Following up on my recent posts about yin yoga (what is is, what to expect in a yin class, and some typical yin poses) and in honour of teaching yin yoga at Body Harmony for the first time today, here’s why I do yin yoga.
The physical benefits of yin yoga are elongated myofascial tissue (a fancy name for muscles and the fascia or connective tissue that surrounds them) and increased mobility through joints, which can prevent degeneration.
My hips feel more mobile after a yin yoga practice… sort of like I could salsa dance out of class! Being in dragon pose for a few minutes, like I’m doing in the photo to the right, is particularly good at getting my hips to salsa – although actually holding dragon often makes me feel more like swearing than dancing 🙂
Yin yoga mostly accesses the body between the knees and shoulders (lots of stretching through the thighs, hips, and spine and wonderful compression and release through the back), but I’ve also found that a yin practice often releases tension in my neck and shoulders. Forward bending postures, like dangling, work wonders for making my neck and shoulders feel looser and more relaxed.
I find the psychological benefits of yin yoga are even more impactful than the physical ones. In addition to the sense of relaxation that comes from hanging out in poses for a few minutes, I’ve also found that settling into that Goldilocks place in a posture, which can be a bit uncomfortable, has helped me settle into discomfort in the rest of my life when I really can’t change the situation.
The philosophy of finding a balance of relaxation and intensity in a posture has aided me in looking for balance in the rest of my life. I find myself asking;
- “Can I make this more comfortable?” – the yoga equivalent of adding props
- “Is this focusing on something I want or need?” – the yoga equivalent of identifying the target area
- “Can I let go of some tension or holding?” – the yoga equivalent of relaxing the target area
- “Is there anything gained by fretting or being frantic – can I just be?” – the yoga equivalent of settling into a pose, breathing, and letting thoughts go
Perhaps that last question is most important. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to let go of worrying or letting my mind spin, but at least I can be conscious about it.
If you want to experience the benefits of yin yoga for yourself, join me for classes at Body Harmony on Saturdays at 4:30pm and at Bound Lotus on Mondays at 1pm, Tuesdays at 8:15pm, and Fridays at 6:30pm.