Updated: Dec 1, 2019
Yin yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga with asanas (postures) that are held for longer periods of time—it may range from one to three minutes. It is not a vigorous practice of movement however holding a stretch for several minutes is often more intense and full of sensation than a vigorous practice.
At Namaha Retreat there is no judgement, every pose is only done to your own level of comfort. With the inclusion of bolsters and blocks as props each student is settled safely into the pose.
Yin is an introspective practice that offers a chance to turn inward and nurture the calm, quiet center that is innate in all of us. It is a practice in stillness, patience, and non-reactivity. Through yin yoga we become adept at self-care.
1. Yin yoga calms and balances the mind and body
It stretches and targets both the deep connective tissues between the muscles, and the fascia throughout the body. The aim is to increase circulation in the joints and improve flexibility as the poses stretch and exercise the bone and joint areas. It also helps us to regulate the body’s flow of energy through the meridians. For healthy range of motion, layers of connective tissue must allow muscles to glide over each other. But injury, habitual posture in daily life, and ageing, among other factors can bind these connective tissues together, creating so-called adhesions and restricting that movement between the sliding surfaces of the muscles. Like a traffic jam, adhesions block the flow of nutrients and energy through the body, causing pain and limiting mobility. Holding poses that gently lengthen the muscles and myofascia helps break up adhesions, and applying mild stress to joints and connective tissues can increase their range of motion.
2. Yin yoga revitalizes the tissues of the body
As you hold a yin pose, the subtle release that takes you deeper into the pose is the tissues lengthening, hydrating, and becoming more pliable. If you pay close attention, you can sense the tissues being stretched, squeezed, twisted, and compressed. A yin practice can leave you feeling as though you’ve had a massage. Yin offers a unique opportunity to cultivate gratitude for the body.Journeying into the deeper layers of ourselves, we tune into our inner workings, connecting to respiratory and circulatory functions, internal organs, and sensations within the muscles and joints.
3. The yin practice forces us to slow down
Yin poses' long holds offer a chance to marinate in stillness. When you allow yourself to stay present and experience the near-imperceptible shifts that occur while holding a yin posture, time opens up. This creates space within our body.
4. Yin yoga teaches self-compassion
The ability to tend to all facets of ourselves (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) is fundamental to our wellbeing. The yin practice provides an opportunity to observe, nurture, soothe, and calm ourselves. The act of carefully taking a posture and tending to your body’s unique set of needs for the duration of the hold is a form of self-care and loving nurturing.
5. The long hold times of a yin practice offer the chance to sit with our emotions
Yin yoga can help us become more resilient to stress. Our bodies store emotions, and it’s not uncommon for sensitive thoughts, feelings, and memories to surface while practicing any form of yoga. Yin teaches us how to be gentle, patient, and nonreactive. When emotions bubble to the surface, the conditions at Namaha Retreat are safe.
6. Yin yoga can help us tap into the parasympathetic nervous system
Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, is a powerful way to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system. You may have heard some of the reasons activating the parasympathetic nervous system is beneficial (stress, tension, blood pressure, sleep, digestion, immune function, hormones, etc)—and that most of us don’t do it often enough. Breathing deep into our belly may feel like a wave of relaxation washes over the body. The deepest layers of the belly soften, the forehead tingles, and the brain relaxes. It’s as if the whole body takes a prolonged sigh. As you move deeper into the yin practice, the breath slows down significantly drawing you deeper and deeper into relaxation mode. This is where the internal organs get a chance to catch up on their to-do list (digest, eliminate toxins, heal, repair).
7. The stillness of a yin practice primes us for meditation
We rarely see who we really are because the cloud of thoughts and distractions block the view. When we create opportunities for physical stillness in a yin practice, we also create the perfect conditions for the brain to become clear. Over time and with practice, in these precious moments we are able to see our true selves.
8. Yin yoga cultivates balance and allows us to step into our full power