Yin and Yang, Dark and Light, soft & hard. Everything in the world is made up of varying degrees of these two energies. Yang represents the masculine – or active, solar energy. The energy we need to make ‘stuff’ happen in the world – to get where we’re going, to achieve and to move forward. Yin represents the feminine – receptive, lunar energy. The type of energy we need to rest, restore, nourish and receive. Yin yoga is a mindfulness based physical practice that uses long holds, in floor based postures to deeply release tension in the body, and create a calm and balanced mind.
The practice of yin yoga holds incredible benefits, for those willing to slow down and drop into themselves. Many of my students have reported to me that the only time during their week they feel truly, and deeply relaxed is after a yin class. The benefits of practicing yin range from physical to emotional, mental and spiritual.
The benefits of Yin
- Adding Yin Yoga to an otherwise Yang exercise program will help to maintain range of motion, supple connective tissue and a balanced nervous system.
- Yin yoga offers us a rare time and place where we are actively encouraged to surrender our need to achieve. It’s about being, rather than doing.
- Yin yoga allows your nervous system to drop into a Rest & Digest state, where natural healing occurs.
- Even a single yin yoga posture can, held for 5 minutes can give you a practical way to slow down, and connect with yourself.
- The physical sensations created in a yin yoga pose, can help even those most resistant to mediation, become grounded and centred in the body.
Focus on Mindfulness
Yin Yoga is different from other forms of yoga that focus on strengthening and stretching the muscles, and therefore is incredibly accessible, even if you’ve never practiced yoga before. Due to the emphasis on Mindfulness, no one will even notice if you can touch your toes, or not. It’s a simple practice, that’s totally unglamorous – you can even do it at home, in your lounge room with a few basic props.
The pose pictured above is called caterpillar, and it can be a super powerful posture to create a calm mind, and reduce stress and anxiety. You can practice it any time you’ve got 5 minutes to yourself.
Your 5 minute practice
- Just pop yourself down on the floor, and if your lower back rounds or you have a sensitive lower back put a blanket under your bum to sit on.
- Then grab your bolster or roll up a thick blanket and put it under your knees. Stretch your legs out, and allow your spine to soften forward towards your legs.
- Put a block or extra cushion under your head for extra support.
- Stay for 5 minutes, and breathe deeply, keeping your breath equal on the inhale and exhale.
- When you feel like you’re ready to come out, slowly round your spine back up, move slowly, keep the bolster under your knees and lie down for a few minutes.