Why yin yoga? As an instructor and avid yogi, I sometimes get asked this question. Some people when they come to a yoga class still want to get a good workout so they don’t see a reason to come to a yin yoga class. Rangan Chatterjee said it best in his book Making Disease Disappear “If the life you live already is leaving you exhausted, there’s no justification for putting yourself through the wringer at the gym. It’s counterproductive.” If you are already stressed out from work, you anxiously go through your mental to do list on the way home, your mind is elsewhere while you fix dinner, cart children to activities, etc it’s not a high-intensity class that your busy body and anxious mind need, it’s stillness.
Today we are surrounded by stimuli that are constantly fighting for attention; Children, errands, jobs, activities, partners. These are all things that society has learned to accept. “I’ll rest when I’m dead” is something that I’ve heard too many times to count! Your body won’t reap the benefits of rest once you’ve perished! By constantly remaining in this state of stress, you are actually shortening your life. You are exhausting your body to a point of illness, not giving your body adequate rest or time to reset.
Enter yin yoga.
Yin yoga is not necessarily an “easy” class. Yin is challenging in its own way. Through longer holds ranging anywhere from three to twenty minutes your only goal is to stay as still as possible. You allow the mind to quiet and focus only on a single stretch and your breath. The gentle pressure of a held stretch works with connective tissues (Think of a tiny fishing net covering the entire inside of your body). These tissues don’t want to stretch like typical muscles so it requires more time and specific pressure. This has an extremely calming effect because a lot of stress that physically manifests into these connective tissues is released. When you allow yourself to stay present and experience the near-imperceptible shifts that occur while holding a yin posture, time opens up. Deadlines, commitments, pressing matters, and to-do lists fade to the background, leaving tremendous space for rest and renewal.
So go ahead. Try that yin yoga class. Treat yo self!