As we covered in the last lesson, Yin Yoga offers many benefits – on a physical level, an energetic level, and a mental level as well. To simplify, here are 6 reasons to get started – and stay consistent – with your Yin Yoga practice.
1. You’ll discover the “other half” of yoga.
If your go-to yoga practice is active – Ashtanga, Bikram, power, Iyengar, vinyasa – carving out time for Yin Yoga will noticeably improve your practice. Thanks to Yin’s signature commitment to mindfully holding poses, you’ll have a better sense of your body and what you’re feeling as you move through poses on your mat. Yin’s tension-melting poses also will help you move with greater ease, grace, and fluidity in your active style.
2. You’ll learn how to release deep tension.
The knot you feel in your neck isn’t just muscle tension. It’s also your fascial network being out of whack. Lots of things cause your fascia – the intricate webbing that encases your muscles – to contract: Stress, injury, and inflammation. Then your mobility and ranges of motion decrease. Yin Yoga safely regains and maintains your healthy ranges of motion by releasing the contracture in your fascia.
3. Energy (Qi) will move better throughout your body.
Qi, your vital energetic life force in Traditional Chinese Medicine, circulates throughout your body but can become blocked or stagnant, particularly in the joints. This can cause pain and even degeneration. Acupuncture stimulates many key points of transition at joints, helping the Qi flow more smoothly. In a similar way, Yin Yoga gently stresses joints, unblocking “stuck” energy. When your Qi flows smoothly, as it will after a Yin Yoga practice, you’ll feel a sense of spontaneous ease.
4. You’ll be able to soothe your nerves and slow down.
Yin Yang theory is about a balancing process of change whereby things cycle between a restful, inward state (yin) and an active, outward state (yang). Yin Yoga stimulates the yin side of that equation, the parasympathetic nervous system, encouraging slowing down and becoming calm in order to rest and renew. Failure to attend to this side of ourselves can lead to burnout.
5. You’ll learn how to meditate – and how to create a meditative state.
Staying relatively still in Yin Yoga postures for several minutes will both physically prepare you to sit in a meditation posture and teach you the fundamental dynamics of how meditation works. You’re able to bring a yin quality of mind – receptivity – to your experience on the mat. Rather than trying to control your mind and focus it on something specific, you can find a stillness of being within the middle of whatever experience you might be having. This is a great skill to have – both on and off your mat.
6. You’ll feel more balanced.
You’ll find a fantastic balance between yin and yang qualities in your being when your body releases deep tension, your Qi flows smoothly, and soft receptivity tempers your mind’s striving. That means you’ll emerge from a practice of Yin Yoga, calm and clear, able to move, think, and act from a place of balanced poise.
I tried to make this summary of the benefits of Yin Yoga as succinct as possible – if you find it to be helpful, please share this with anyone who needs “convincing” to try Yin Yoga. Next up in the series, we’ll talk about the bitter and sweet sides of Yin Yoga – and how both are important to the practice.