Over the last couple of years I have been incorporating regular yin yoga practises into my routine. Yin yoga is the opposite to the more ‘yang’ style of vinyasa flow classes we are more commonly see on the timetable in yoga studios / gyms. Yin yoga is very slow and we hold postures (aka. asanas) for anywhere between 45 seconds to 6 minutes, with a focus on stillness, meditation and awareness of inner silence (the hard part!)
At first I found it very difficult staying physically still, but most of all it made me realise how loud the chatter in my mind was. With time, practise and some amazing teachers who explained the poses and practise, I knew I wanted to do yin yoga teacher training next. Yin yoga has been so therapeutic for me, yet challenges me in a way I have never been before, I want to pass this on through my own teaching.
In preparation for my yin yoga teacher training this week (now completed 50hrs of Yin & The Elements with The Yoga People), I’ve been doing a lot of reading and have summarised just 5 of the benefits of yin yoga below :)
On a physical level, yin yoga improves flexibility as it targets the fascia (aka. the connective tissue, the stuff that holds the entire body together). This improves circulation in the joints and promotes a healthy flow of energy. By holding poses for a longer period of time than in a vinyasa class, we are able to work on the physical body to a deeper level, rather than the superficial, we only see on the surface.
Stress relief. Throughout most of our day we are bombarded by messages, distractions, rushing around for work stuff, life stuff. Yin yoga provides space for us to practise stillness (easier to type than actually do!) Give yourself permission to be still, with nothing else to do but just breathe. This can be very challenging, but an amazing way to manage stress.
Intimacy and self love. get ready to go inward and notice emotions and sensations that come up which you may have been avoiding. Inner thoughts or memories may arise for you in a yin yoga class, which you might not otherwise experience in a vinyasa flow class. Observe it. Release and let it pass. Yin is amazing for washing away fears, doubts and worries; and helps to cultivate deep relaxation, nourishment of the body and self appreciation. I see yin yoga practise as a rest day for my physical body, allowing it to rest fully, whilst I care for my mind.
Helps to build self-discipline. Yin yoga teaches you to get comfortable with the uncomfortable, which is a practise that easily translates to life off the yoga mat too. When a yin yoga pose starts to build, maybe the physical sensations get stronger, the mind may get louder with stories telling you to quit. This is where self discipline, perseverance and endurance come in to play. Now, this doesn’t mean we grit our teeth and bare it. We surrender to the present moment and observe without judgement. Once the pose is released we allow that '“ahhhh…” moment in a gentle rebound pose. After the effort comes the ease :)
The after glow. Leaving a yin yoga class I often feel that I have been doing deep inner work and coming away from the practise I tend to feel at complete peace with myself, mind and body. It’s almost like feeling lighter, sometimes I feel like I float out of the yoga studio and all the way home. The after glow that yin yoga gives me, is the thing that keeps me going back, time after time and I am starting to develop a home yin yoga practise too.
Have you practised yin yoga before and what is your experience like? Sign up to my mailing list for updates on a pop-up yin yoga class in London and for updates on my class schedule :) I am also planning a yin yoga YouTube video for anyone wanting to practise with me at home. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to stay updated.