Five Reasons to Embrace Yin Yoga
Yin Yoga is a practice of stillness and awareness which deeply connect us with the present moment and transforms our energy and rebalancing of the vitality of our organs.
With our lives being so frenetic, Yin Yoga represents a powerful practice to cultivate quiet and introspection and nourish us on the physical and mental level.
In a typical session, you would encounter a series of passive poses, mainly on the floor, and hold them for about 5 minutes gradually surrendering to gravity and stilling any fidgeting of the body or the mind.
Asking us to turn inwards and to cultivate self-enquiry, Yin Yoga perfectly complements more active – “yang” – practices and offers numerous benefits for our wellbeing.
It keeps your tissues healthy and prevents injuries
In Yin Yoga, we always want to avoid any painful sensations and we often use props to create the right amount of support so that we don’t reach the very edge of the stretch. When the bones are supported, the muscles can relax, and the positive stress of the pose can go deeper in the ligaments, joints, bones and fascia networks.
Stretching and compressing helps contrast the natural thickening of the connective tissues as we age, it improves range of motion and enhances circulation and lymphatic flow (fundamental to recover from injuries).
As we cultivate an enhanced awareness, we create a correct representation in the brain of what our safe range of movement is. We test and observe; how much is too much? What am I capable to tolerate and still be safe? When is it time to change because this position has become harmful? The ability to listen to ourselves can be very precious not only to prevent injuries but also to guide us in our daily decisions.
It shows you there is no such thing as a standard body
Yin Yoga is based on the assumption that there is no standard alignment, as there is no such a thing as a “standard body”. Therefore, there is no right or wrong way to do a position and everyone might have a different expression of it.
It’s a purely somatic, not aesthetic experience. The focus is not on how a pose looks from the outside, but how it feels from the inside, which can be quite liberating if you have always thought that Yoga is mainly about making pretty shapes.
In the “simplicity” of stillness, we can understand our safe range of motion more clearly and we can transfer this form of self-knowledge to any other movement practice.
It is a way to practice mindfulness
Yin Yoga is in itself an introspective practice, a way of training mindful attention, to focus and build resilience and receptivity.
We deliberately put ourselves in a triggering condition of vulnerability, but as we become more familiar with it, we surrender and build resilience.
Because we allow ourselves to be present and notice subtle shifts in the body and the mind, for many of us Yin is a perfect entry point into a meditative state
It reduces stress and calms the nervous system
In a stationary condition, the muscles don’t work, so they don’t need oxygen. Therefore, the breath can be quieter and help the mind to slow down with an increase in Alpha brain waves and a decrease in overall tension and nervousness. When we allow the breath to deepen and involve the diaphragm, we stimulate the Vagus Nerve, which interfaces with the Parasympathetic Nervous System. This function of the nervous system is responsible for healing our body and managing stress, blood pressure, sleep, digestion, immune function, hormones and much more. Therefore, the deep breathing we practice in Yin Yoga can have a tremendous impact on our overall health.
It helps you face and balance your emotions
Yin Yoga affects the body energetically by stimulating the meridian lines, or fascia networks, that correspond to the major organs of the body. Traditional Chinese Medicine which informs this practice, proposes that connections exist between possible blockages in these pathways, the health of the corresponding organs and the expression or repression of certain emotions. By holding selected poses we can therefore influence our emotional wellbeing. Even if we don’t believe in this knowledge system, as we deal with the safe discomfort of the stretches, we can often notice a surfacing of delicate memories, feelings and thoughts. At the same time, in the rebound phase, when we come out of the pose and witness the flushing back of the blood and energy in the tissues, we can receive a powerful emotional relief. Whatever emotional responses we experience, through this contemplative practice of letting go we have time to observe them with no judgement and rediscover the capacity to be soft and open.