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Yin is a style of yoga in which seated postures are held for a long time (typically at least 5 minutes). I ignored it for a long time because I misunderstood the value of stillness. Plus, one never sweats in Yin, so how could it be good for you?
If you have yet to add Yin to your practice here are 5 hidden benefits to consider:
1. You complement your practice.
In the flow classes like Ashtanga and Vinyasa (yes, there are many other forms of yoga but for the sake of brevity, I'll just refer to these two), movement generates heat and the body, mind, and soul experience an expansive state. Yin complements such movement by challenging one to remain still for extended periods of time.
2. You sit still.
This is particularly difficult for Type A personalities who see the world as a series of challenges to conquer. In Yin, there is no challenge. You're not even allowed to use your muscles and you certainly won't sweat. You just remain still in a specific seated posture. That’s it! Try not to fidget and let me know how it goes!
3. You actually listen to your breath
While you're supposed to hear your Ujjayi breath during Ashtanga or Vinyasa, sometimes it is
difficult to do so because of a variety of reasons. In Yin, there is complete silence for long periods of time, so your breath is actually the only thing you may have to listen to. This in and of itself is actually quite amazing. If you think about it, how often do people listen to their breath?
4. You'll have to learn a new way to manage your mind and emotions (Vritti).
This was the biggest challenge for me. It was extremely difficult to get rid of all the noise in my head during long periods of stillness. What Yin has taught me is that the stillness in and of itself can be
the catalyst to quiet the mind. Instead of fighting the stillness, I have learned to accept it and allow the expansiveness to occur in my physical body as well as in my mind.
5. You realize that growth occurs through stillness.
Perhaps the biggest lesson Yin has taught me is to think differently. The “no pain no gain” approach that I lived with for 25 years gave way to a “growth through stillness” mentality. Stillness is often the antithesis to the Type A personality but Yin challenges one to go beyond such thinking.
Give Yin a try. Allow yourself to find value in stillness. This in and of itself can be challenging on both a cerebral and physical level. Perhaps you can add it to your practice once a week or a few times each month. I would love to hear your thoughts on Yin and your journey of growth through stillness.