Do you find yourself needing to be stimulated by your phone, computer or tv all the time? Does the thought of sitting still seem impossible? Have you noticed that your flexibility isn't what it used to be? For me, it was the flexibility issue that drew me to Yin Yoga. After my back surgery I had not been able to regain all of my flexibility in my hips as well as my spine and it was causing a lot of pain and increased numbness in my foot. I decided that I needed to change my approach to healing and in addition to some focused core work, I committed to practicing Yin Yoga 3-4 times a week. Well I began to feel so good and my flexibility improved so much that I often do some quicker version of a Yin practice daily!
Yin Yoga has been around for thousands of years. Yin yoga is the counterpart to the more active practice of Yang Yoga. Yang yoga takes the form of what most of us are familiar with when we think of yoga. It goes by names like Vinyasa or Ashtanga. Yin, however, is a passive practice designed to reach the deeper connective tissue or fascia in our bodies. Postures or asanas are typically held for 3-5 minutes and are called by different names to allow the person practicing to shift their mind from yang to yin or from active to passive. For example, in a yang practice you may call a deep hip opener pigeon pose but in yin yoga that same posture is called sleeping swan.
There are many benefits to adding yin yoga to your regular exercise routine:
- Calming the mind and balancing the body
- Increasing mobility especially in the joints and lower spine
- Improving joint lubrication
- Releasing fascia and thus improving flexibility in the body
- Promoting deep relaxation
- Increasing stamina
- Decreasing stress and anxiety
- Bettering your ability to sit still for meditation
So how do you find somewhere to practice Yin Yoga? A simple google search will help you find classes at your local yoga studios or gyms. I try to practice at my YMCA at least once a week but I can not always fit it into my schedule to make it to a class. Another option is to search you phone for yin yoga apps. A few that I like are Yoga with Kassandra and one simply called Yin Yoga. If you aren't sure you will like yin you can search You Tube for a few free videos to give it a try. Remember that it takes some getting used to because we are not accustomed to sitting still for so long but the rewards are endless so be brave and commit to some self-care!