Practising Yin Yoga?
We are all doing it. And it feels great! But what exactly is it doing?
The purpose behind practising yin yoga is to lengthen the connective tissues of the body – the tendons, fascia and ligaments – with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility. So we are moving beyond the muscles and going deeper, to the tissues that connect the muscles to the bones and the tissues surrounding the joints themselves. Bringing our awareness, and practice to this deep level of the body brings about more permanent changes to our joint mobility.
Moving deeper also has the effect of bringing us closer to our thought processes – the way in which our mind is functioning. The more we ‘let go’ in a yin pose, the easier it is for us to remain silent within. This is a very important part of your yin practice. So if you feel like the room is quiet, inactive, or still – then that is a perfect place for your mind to be in order to create those same qualities with it.
Yin also teaches us how to remain calm whilst sometimes being ‘on the edge of comfort.’ This is a great teaching! Think how many times each week, or even each day you may experience moments of discomfort. The more you meet those uncomfortable moments in yin, in the safe, calm space of the yoga studio, the easier it becomes to meet them off your mat.
What is the best way to practice yin?
When you practice yin try to come to a ‘place of rest’ as much as possible. Especially in the easier poses. When you are attempting a pose that is more challenging, and you begin to feel the discomfort arise, bring your awareness to your breath and breathe slower. Slow it right down and see if you can find a new ‘place of rest.’ Do this as often as you need. You should never feel that your body is shaking. But it is ok if your body is saying ‘no way, get me the hell outta here!’ – this is just your edge of discomfort. Look at it and see whether or not you can stay with it. This ‘edge of discomfort’ feels different to pain. If you feel pain, then release and try the pose again.
Yin in my practice.
The best way to incorporate yin in your practice is to balance it with some ‘yang yoga’ – Foundation Flow, Power Flow or Ashtanga. Without the strength developed in these types of yoga, your joints may start to become a little ‘unstable’ over time due to the fact that you are not developing strength to support the opening of your joints.