"The quieter you become the more you can hear." -Ram Dass
Yin yoga is a deliciously deep, meditative and reflective practice in which floor-based postures are held for an extended period of time.
Unlike a dynamic yang practice that works the muscles through repetition, Yin works the deeper layers of the body such as the fascia, connective tissues, joints and bones. Yin is a deeply healing and nourishing practice with profound physical, emotional and energetic effects. During challenging times in our lives, our emotions can deplete our bodies of energy. The nourishing practice of Yin yoga helps to restore that energy for overall wellbeing.
Yin yoga continues to give me the strength and courage necessary to honor all the roles and responsibilities I have on my life's journey. I invite you to try a Yin yoga class, and to keep an open mind and heart. Through a Yin practice, we allow ourselves the space and time to touch base with who we truly are, beneath the stories we've created about ourselves — beneath the tragedy. It is here where we can begin to live with more grace, strength and courage.
Here five reasons why a Yin yoga practice will transform your life:
1. Flexibility is increased.
Practicing Yin yoga will give you a greater range of motion and increased flexibility. Your body will feel longer, lighter and more loose from the long-held stretches. Fascia is a continuous web of tissue that weaves in and around our organs, muscles, nerves and lymph nodes. In order to gain true flexibility over time, it is imperative we keep the fascia stretched out.
2. Self-regulated healing is promoted.
A Yin practice helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing our body to rest and digest so that it may begin to heal itself. Blood, nutrients and energy can flow more freely to our digestive, endocrine and lymphatic system, and to our reproductive organs. This can help bring our bodies back to a state of harmony by replenishing that lost energy.
3. Tension and stress are alleviated.
Rather than constricting our breath and tightening our muscles like in other practices, we deepen our breath and lengthen our connective tissues in a Yin yoga practice. This in turn, can help to lower stress cortisol levels and calm the mind. By incorporating mindfulness and observing the emotions for what they are as a witness, we can release them and become more present.
4. Heart is opened and Chi is unblocked.
Traditional Chinese Medicine describes emotions (energy in motion) as neither good nor bad, but simply an expression of energy. Our physical body remembers the places we've held trauma and loss, even if we think we've let it go and moved on. The stimulation and relaxation of these deeper layers through a Yin practice will encourage the Chi/Qi (aka life force energy or prana) to flow more freely. By allowing our physical body to open, our mind and heart can open as well.
5. Energetic toxins are released.
Intangible toxins come in the form of emotions — anger, stress, worry, grief, sadness and even extreme excitement. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, each of these emotions are processed by a specific organ. For example, grief is associated with the lungs, fear is found in the kidneys, and stress in the liver. These emotions are equally toxic to the overall healthy functioning of our system. When energy can easily flow through the meridians (the different channels the body), improved organ health, immunity and emotional balance can be achieved.
Photo courtesy of the author