Before I got deeper into my yin yoga practice, I always found yin to be a slow and sometimes painful yoga style that I would skip for a faster vinyasa flow or a more intense kundalini practice. Somewhere along the line, when I found myself having to rebuild and regrow during the last few months, yin has become something that has added more to my life than I ever could have imagined.
This yoga style focuses on longer holds that target the connective tissue between joints and muscle. It is based on Chinese traditional medicine and targets meridians within the body for healing. Originally introduced by Paulie Zink, poses are held for five or more minutes, with the seated poses making up the majority of poses. In theory, it sounds simple. In practice, holding poses for longer periods can be surprisingly challenging. The longer holds give a very deep stretch that can help to ease stiffness and encourage relaxation.
Although I still enjoy vinyasa yoga sometimes, there is something about yin yoga that has helped me centre myself more than any other yoga I have ever done. It’s also been surprisingly good for me physically, helping me slowly but surely level out my weight and gain strength in ways I could not have imagined. More than anything, however, yin helps me stay sane.
How Yin Yoga Keeps Me Sane
Ok, maybe a better way to put it is that yin yoga keeps me grounded and calm. Whatever the case, here’s why this yoga practice works so well for me…
It has taught me patience.
If you have ever done yin before, you will know what I mean. Holding poses for anything from three to five minutes or even more requires a fair amount of patience. Holding difficult poses for longer lengths requires even more patience. I still have to stop myself from fidgeting some days but mostly I am learning how to ease into poses and stay there.
It has reminded me to focus on my breath.
Breathing slowly and fully is essential during a yin practice. Deep belly breathing has helped me in meditation practice and it also helps hugely when I practice my yoga. When poses are challenging, I use my breath to focus and settle my mind. It helps hugely and makes it far easier during the longer holds.
It has helped me gain muscle.
Although I am more concerned about the inner benefits of yoga rather than the outer benefits, getting stronger has helped me in many ways, too. Slowly, I am noticing changes in my body as I gain muscle and get back to my natural size. My arms are getting stronger, my obliques are coming back, my legs are getting stronger, and everything feels a lot looser.
It has brought me back to myself.
This is the most important shift of all. Over the last year or so, my life has gone through a number of changes. Many of those scary changes. Dealing with seizures on a daily basis since the beginning of the year, after my scary hospital trip at the end of 2018, has not been easy. My daily yoga practice has helped me get back to myself, reconnecting and finding my peace. Along the way, a few med tweaks have also helped and slowly, the seizures are easing.
The thing about journies is that they do not have to have a final destination. Yoga is the same. I will continue to explore my yin yoga practice and I will continue to grow in the process.
Have you tried this yoga style? Leave a comment below and let me know how you find yin yoga.