Breathe In, Breathe Out, and Let it All Go
All the rushing around we do in our busy lives (why ARE our lives so busy?) all the vinyasas, chattarangas, arm balances or eka padas we do in our ‘yang’ physically active yoga classes, isn’t it nice just to let yourself relax and slow down a little? Just breathe and let the body open up and surrender?
That’s what getting Yin-licious is all about. Surrendering the body and mind and letting yourself relax and unwind. Give yourself time to open up and SLOW DOWN.
The essence of yin yoga is to gently ease us into long held postures and just breathe. We typically hold postures for 3-5 minutes minimum.
It’s a time to unwind, chill out and just simply be present in your body with the breath. Not ujjayi breath, or any other type of pranayama, but deep, natural belly breathing.
Created in the 80’s by Paul Grilley, Yin focuses on the fascia, the connective tissue that lies over the top of the muscles. Paul says – ‘a yin approach works to promote flexibility in areas often perceived as nonmalleable, especially the hips, pelvis, and lower spine’ Most other types of yoga being ‘Yang’ meaning that they work on the large muscle groups and joints, are energising and flow with the breath.
Yin forces us to slow down, take stock and tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, the ‘rest and digest’ system, promoting healing and nourishment.
Tightness in fascia can restrict blood flow (ever experienced your leg going numb whilst sitting in meditation? That’s due to restricted blood flow in the fascia/connective tissue, particularly in the outer hips) so we need to keep it (fascia) hydrated and ‘springy’ to avoid injuries.
In particular as a support for Ashtanga Yoga it can help with tightness in hamstrings, and the tensor fascia latae, which connects to the IT band, causing tightness in external rotation of the hips, two of the key focuses of the Primary Series.
This video clip can be particularly useful for understanding how and why these tissues need to be stretched. (Warning cadavers are used in this video)
So that’s a little science behind the method, But working not just on physical level, Yin yoga takes us away from the over stimulated world we now live in. A chance to shut out the constant mind chatter and just be. Focusing on the breath and be present with the here and now.
Feeling grounded and revitalised. That’s not to say that in all postures you will feel cool, calm and collected! Some postures will challenge you physically and not be so comfortable, but learning to sit and breath through this discomfort can be a skill that you can use in your life off of the mat.
As with all yoga styles the end result is to prepare the body for sitting in meditation. With Yin yoga you can focus on breath, as in meditation and let it all go, feeling present and connected with the body and mind.
I’m teaching Yin at Akasha Wellness Retreat in Romania alongside our Ashtanga Program, but you can find classes at most yoga studios these days or go along with a guided youtube one, and get all Yin-licious on yourself!
with love and light, Claire