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Why you need to do more Yin Yoga

by Amy Collins

If you’ve ever stepped foot into a yin class you’d know it’s very different from a vinyasa class. Vinyasa classes will see you strengthening your muscles, testing your will power, pushing your body, and expanding the mind. Yin classes on the other hand ask you to soften. To give in. To let go of all tension and worry. It’s not the easiest thing for most of us to do. But it’s incredibly beneficial. Not only for the body as we find space and opening, but also for the mind as we can find stillness and peace. Both styles are beautiful on their own, but something even better happens when we combine them – balance. So here are just a number of our favourite reasons that we should all do more yin. Especially those of us who have a regular vinyasa practice.

Life is very yang
Remember that yin and yang symbol you used to draw all the time when you were a teenager? Just us? Anyway, it’s not just a symbol. It’s a balanced circle. That’s what life should be. And that’s what yoga aims to do – create balance. But it can only do so much. We have to help ourselves along the way. If you think about life these days it’s very fast paced, busy, stimulated. These are all yang qualities. Vinyasa yoga is mainly based in yang energy. So if we spend our days busy and our nights powering through vinyasa classes without thinking twice about slowing down, we might be overdoing it.

Yin energy on the other hand is calming, soothing, restorative, and soft. Exactly what yin yoga is all about. And the perfect balancing act for life and vinyasa yoga.

We are programmed to hold on
These days stress seems to be taking over. Everyone is trying to do more, be more, and the end result of all of this is stress. Not only in the mental sense, but in the body as well. When we are stressed we tense up. And often, when we are constantly pushing and striving, we don’t ever let our body completely release. This can result in a range of things from tension headaches, tight muscles prone to injury, stiffness, trouble sleeping, and anxiety. The list really goes on. Yin allows us and invites us to let go of all effort and all tension. Replacing all that hard work with surrender and softness. This not only allows us to open up the body but also gives it a chance to move away from that stressful state.

We should give ourselves the permission to do less
Do you get uncomfortable when you’re not doing anything? Feel guilty for really resting? This is why yin is so beautiful. You’re doing something (going to yoga) but you’re meant to do nothing once you’re there. It allows for that happy medium. Once we work our way into a shape, we have to surrender and let the pose do the work. We are getting incredible benefits from the poses – space in the joint, length in the connective tissue, opening in the muscles. But we shouldn’t have to use effort or strength to get there. We simply have to show up.

It’s a meditation
We understand that life is busy. And we understand that often things like meditation and mindfulness can end up taking a backseat. Another amazing benefit of our yin practice is that if we let it, if we focus while we’re there, it becomes a meditation and an act of mindfulness all on its own. As we spend a few minutes in each pose, we have the time to come back to breath, to focus on the sensations. The rushing and movement is taken away and we’re left with the same type of stillness we might find when in a seated meditation.

It’s amazing how much you can learn about your body and your self
Movement and strength is great. And it can also occupy the mind. When you’re in a vinyasa class you have to concentrate just to keep up and keep yourself balanced and stable. But in a yin practice that is taken away. And what we’re left with is space with our own mind. And that’s rare for a lot of us these days with distractions pretty much coming out of every corner of our lives. When we stop and allow for that space things will start to come to the surface. Often emotions, thought patterns, habits, likes, dislikes, will all make themselves known. And we can start to let those things teach us more about ourselves, how we react to the world around us, and if we want to, begin to change some of the habits we didn’t even know we’d formed.

Yin also allows us to feel into our bodies a lot more. And this can help us pinpoint areas of tension or even dysfunction. Once we’ve located these, again we can spend time and energy on helping the body to heal and open up.

Want to do more and learn more?
Along with weekly yin classes at both our Richmond and Geelong studios we are also running a 50 Hour Yin Yoga Teacher Training this June with Hugh Lee. Students will get insight into mindfulness, Chinese medicine, anatomy, theory and practice, yin sequences, and how to teach this nourishing style of yoga. Click here for more info!