Yin Yoga is deep passive asana (postures) which we hold from 1-5 minutes. By remaining still for a longer period of time the body and mind are able to adjust and relax in to the pose. We can then target more deeply into the connective tissues, ligaments, bones, joints and fascia in the body. We can also stimulate meridians which enhance the flow of chi (blood, nutrients, oxygen) energy to our internal organs. By creating this flow we encourage our bodies to cleanse and detoxify as fresh energy flows in, toxic, negative energy is pushed out and eliminated.
Why should I waste my time sitting around when I could be pounding it at a high energy class?
I know, I get it, I was there. We are all craving Yang energy! We have programmed ourselves into thinking that any spare time we have should be spent raising our heart rates, sweating profusely, burning calories and building muscle. And yes, with our more sedentary lifestyles we do need all of that. We desperately need to let off steam too, as the majority of us are living in our Fight or Flight mode most of the time, that energy needs to go somewhere. You can read more about this on my previous blog here https://www.ashgroveyoga.ie/post/stress-our-flight-or-fight-response
Technically, once we have finished a good workout our bodies should relax and move into the Relaxation Response, our Rest & Digest Phase. However, we can only benefit from this if we allow ourselves to remain there, for at least a short while. If you are rushing back out of your class to get back on with your day and something triggers your stress response then you are back to square one. You are straight back in to your Flight or Fight Response.
Nowadays, we feel guilty if we think we are not being productive enough so we are always rushing. Rushing to get the shopping done, rushing to get to work, rushing to get our workload done, rushing to get home, rushing to pick up the kids, rushing to make the dinner, rushing to get out to our exercise class and then rushing home to spend time with our families before we head to bed and do it all over again.
Sleep does not count as being in the relaxation response (the rest & digest phase) we are asleep and our bodies have other phases and processes to perform during this time. So how long do you think you spend in the rest & digest phase?
How Exactly Can Yin Yoga Help Me?
The first thing we do in any yoga class is to sit quietly and breathe, we check in with ourselves and we commit to our practice, leaving the outside world, our responsibilities and any stresses on pause but with Yin Yoga this process goes even deeper. When we move into the physical practice of Yin Yoga the reflexion becomes more intense. Each Asana (Pose) is held for 1 - 5 minutes, giving us time to really explore and feel our way into the pose.
If you are a regular Yinster you will repeat these poses many, many times. According to Paul Grilley (the founder of Yin Yoga) there are actually only 5 Yin Archetype Asanas. All other postures are variations of those 5. However, every time you revisit each Asana, you are different, your day has been different, you feel different, there are different things going on in your body and in your mind. You also might be asked to focus on a different aspect of that Asana. We might choose to target a certain area in the physical body or the subtle body. In order to do this you might be given different props, or shown how to use them differently to create a different feeling.
During each posture your goal is to find balance. To feel into your body and find the biting point. The degree of depth where you feel challenged but not intensely so. Where you feel a stretch, but not sharpness and not pain. And guess what? The degree of depth you can go can be different on different days.
Over a period of time, you will get to know your body, you will learn how to work with it, you will learn what your body loves and what it find challenging. You get to observe your body and your mind. You will notice if you find a pose mentally challenging or physically challenging. You get to move through the challenges and to overcome them or to adapt to them. You become more compassionate and more understanding of yourself.
Yin Yoga forces you to be in the moment. To feel, to breath, to connect with your body and with yourself. In order to go deeper into a posture the breath must slow down, the body must relax, we must release tension because if we don't we feel it. We can't go as deep into the pose, that same pose that we regularly do, doesn't feel right. So if you practice often, you will notice when you are holding on to tension, you will learn to recognise it and you will learn to let it go with the breath. You will learn to control the breath and to switch yourself from the Stress Response to the Relaxation Response.
The longer we spend in the Relaxation Response the better we will feel and the healthier we will be. We will have more awareness and feel more in control of our responses and our reactions to both physical and mental stress. And who doesn't want that? There is honestly nothing that can compare to the relaxed, chilled, feeling that you get at the end a Yin Yoga Class.
So why not join me for a class or a workshop and see what you're missing?