What is Yin Yoga?
I love taking any opportunity I can for a mini vacation. Unfortunately we can’t take the time or spend the money to go on a mini vacation each week, so yoga is one of my favorite cost effective ways to check out of reality and recalibrate. I usually take a slow flow class or do a restorative yoga video online at least once a week. Lately, I have discovered a new format called Yin yoga. It’s the the perfect compliment to my crazy exercise regimen and an amazing way to relax.
I really had no idea what to expect my first class but it turned out to be exactly what the yogi ordered. You typically stay on the floor the entire class and hold passive poses for an incredibly long time (3-5 minutes). Props are encouraged so that you can fully relax and allow gravity to stretch the muscles. The goal is to let the mind wander while the body releases. Yin practice focuses on accepting “what is” and letting go of “what isn’t”. It requires you to sit still, listen to your body, relax your mind, and let go of all tension.There have been several times I “accidentally” let my mind wander too far and took a short nap. It’s best to go into a Yin practice with cold muscles to allow for maximum benefits and the best time of day is early or late in your day. I personally love going to class in the evening because then I can just head straight to bed when I get home!
Yin yoga is similar to a restorative yoga practice with the biggest difference being Yin is not meant solely for relaxation. The point of a Yin practice is to allow gravity to intensify the stretch while calming the mind.
What are the benefits of Yin yoga?
Yin is intended as purposeful therapeutic stress for the mind, body, and spirit to improve overall health. The most obvious benefit of any yoga class is stress relief. Sitting still in Yin yoga helps me let go of anything negative I may be holding onto physically or mentally. I always leave Yin classes with a better sense of my priorities and with a more positive outlook. Yin increases flexibility and mobility particularly in the ligaments, tendons, joints, and deep tissue. It targets the deep connective tissue closest to the bones while releasing tension in the muscles. Yin helps you center your mind and explore the depth of your physical or mental tension.
Every yoga class is different which is what makes yoga wonderful. Always give yourself 2-3 classes before making a decision about a certain format and contact your doctor before making any major lifestyle changes.
As with any good thing, all mini vacations must come to an end which means it’s time to head back to work. Check out your local studio listings for Yin yoga and let me know what you think!