What is the first thing that comes to mind for you when you hear the words "Yin Yoga"? Perhaps it is "long holds" or "endless moments of silence" or something else. Chances are you have not been made aware of the many benefits of Yin Yoga.
Lets start with my journey to Yin. I had always lived a very Yang (fast paced) lifestyle. Busy-ness was my mantra. I didn't take time to slow down. About 6 years ago, I had stumbled onto Yoga. Initially practicing Bikram, and then finding Vinyasa, before eventually becoming a Vinyasa RYT-200 (teacher) in 2016.
When I was practicing I loved the moments of stillness while flowing. An opportunity to breath, and to let myself feel the poses. I enjoyed flowing from one pose to another, linking breath to the poses and movements. But I relished in the moments of stillness. I could almost feel my muscles, tendons, and ligaments microscopically lengthening. The stillness trickled into my teaching. What began as a one breath hold, lengthened to 8 breath holds.
Then a close friend and colleague recommended that I check out some of Bernie Clark's Yin Yoga classes. "You will laugh at how much he sounds like one of the other teachers in our studio" she said to me. So I tried out one of his classes on MyYogaOnline.com and loved it. I couldn't get enough. I enrolled in his teacher training so that I could share my love of this practice with others.
So what are the benefits? Well I believe, and have been taught that there are three main areas where benefits will be realized. The Physical body, the Energetic body, and within the Heart and Mind.
The Physical Body
This is where most of us will see the most benefits. At least initially.
Yin Yoga allows us to stress our muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints safety. This stress is achieved by coming into a pose to an appropriate depth, otherwise known as "playing your edge". By applying such a stress, you will eventually see an increased Range of Motion (or ROM for short), increased blood flow within the body, a loosening of muscle fascia, and increased hydration to your joints and muscles!
The Energetic Body
By resolving to stay still in the pose, we allow ourselves to find our breath. By breathing you increase the energetic flow throughout the body. This occurs by moving energy with breath and subtle body movements, sometimes called Pranayama or Chi. In these still moments, it is encouraged for students to imagine the breath moving to the areas of your body where you feel the stresses. By doing this you awaken, enhance, and balance the body's Prana, while slowing the thoughts whirling in your mind.
The Heart & Mind
Here is the magic ingredient. The part that I love the most. Time. Holding a posture for a period of time. While holding we are mindful of what is happening right now. Our stress begins to evaporate once we slow down and pay attention to our breath. This results in many different benefits such as lower blood pressure, slower heart rate, recharged immune system, recharged digestive system, and a decrease of any inflammation within the body.
"Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self" - The Bhagavad Gita
So now that you have an outline of the benefits found in a Yin Practice, will you try it?
Still searching for more information? Send me a message, or check out YinYoga.com for an in-depth dive with the teacher whom I look up to in this style of practice; Bernie Clark.