In a world where news cycles are constant, inboxes are always full and our eyes are constantly fixated on a screen, it’s now harder than ever to switch off. To keep up with the demand of keeping up, we are constantly tapping into our yang energy – busy, active, energetic, fast-moving, expansive, action-oriented – while leaving very little room in our daily lives to welcome in or make space for yin energy. Yin energy is slow, still, quiet, grounded, peaceful and passive. It’s the gentle trickling of water over pebbles in a creek, the soft light of a full moon, or the beautiful melody of a slow classical piece. Two opposite energetic forces, both equally necessary for our physical and emotional wellbeing.
If you love a spicy Vinyasa Flow, you’re no stranger to the heat and fire that comes from the repetition of sun salutations and standing strong in a challenging peak pose. This yang style of yoga is amazing for energising, uplifting and strengthening. And while we definitely relish a sweaty Flow class, we ALL need more Yin vibes in our life. So, here are ten reasons why you, yes YOU with the mile-long ‘To-Do’ List, will benefit from carving out some time in your week for Yin Yoga.
1. Your body will feel longer and stronger.
As a cooling, slower-paced practice, Yin Yoga is sometimes misunderstood as lacking the physical benefits of other, more dynamic styles of yoga. However, the beauty of Yin lies in the work that it does beneath the surface, targeting the deep connective tissues and fascia that surround our muscles, bones and joints. By holding postures for longer periods of time, we gently stretch this connective tissue, lengthening and strengthening to build elasticity and reduce aches, pains and stiffness.
2. You connect with yourself on a deeper level.
When we remain in one pose for upwards of 3-7 minutes, we learn to find stillness in the body and create space for any physical sensations or suppressed emotions to rise to the surface. This stillness and space allow us to tune in, observe and become aware of what is really going on for us – in our body, in our mind, in our heart. We cultivate self-awareness and establish a deeper mind-body connection, both on and off the mat.
3. You learn to let go.
Rushing from one task to next, constantly stimulated and forever switched on, leaves very little time to wind down and detach from the pressures of the daily grind. Yin promotes a nourishing environment, where instead of moving from asana to asana in quick succession, we are encouraged to take a life pause and surrender. The very act of yielding into a pose invites in a sense of letting go. With nowhere to be, nothing to be, nothing to do than simply breathe, we can sit with our thoughts and emotions as they arise without the need to attach to or become them.
4. You stress less and boost happy hormones.
Whether it’s paying bills, reading the news, driving to work or making sure the kids don’t accidently stick something into the toaster, we are surrounded by stress triggers. So much about our daily life stimulates our sympathetic nervous system and activates our fight-or-flight response. Short-term, this is awesome. We have a kicker of a survival mode. But when activated ALL the time? We get sick. Our body breaks down. It’s simply not a sustainable lifestyle, no matter how hard we try to make it so. One of the many benefits of Yin Yoga is that, as a slow and meditative practice, it gets us out of that state of fight-flight and into a state of rest-and-digest. Our parasympathetic nervous system takes over, giving us a precious opportunity to rest, repair and reset. Digestion improves, tension dissolves, sleep quality increases, the body heals and we are better able to cope with the stressors in our environment. Best of all, we get a big old boost of endorphins and feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine.
5. You unblock energy and get the good vibes flowing.
Having roots in the ancient Taoist tradition, Yin Yoga seeks to balance Qi or Prana (our energetic life force), particularly within and around our internal organs. When our energy is out of balance, it can become stuck or stagnant, creating illness or pain in the body and even contributing to negative emotional or behavioural patterns. Holding poses in areas of the body that are prone to tightness and stagnation helps to release these energetic blockages and enable a more free-flowing life force.
6. You become more flexible.
As a passive practice, Yin Yoga disengages the muscles and encourages us to soften the body. When a pose is sustained, the fascia has time to release and gradually becomes more elastic, increasing joint mobility and overall flexibility.
7. You step out of your comfort zone.
Trying new things is a great way to challenges ourselves and encourage growth in our everyday life. Getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to look like jumping from an aeroplane or ziplining through the Amazonian Rainforest (although, that does sound pretty darn epic… terrifying, but epic…). It can also be gentle, simple, softer. If you are used to being on-the-go, always busy, always doing, always hustling, why not challenge yourself to have a different experience? Yin Yoga is often said to be the most difficult style of yoga because the act of being still has become so foreign to us. You might be surprised by what you discover when you remove the external distractions and allow yourself to simply be.
8. You boost blood circulation.
Even as a gentler practice, Yin works some pretty serious magic. As we slow our breathing, making each inhale deeper and each exhale longer, our body floods with oxygen, boosting circulation and increasing blood flow throughout the body to nourish every single cell.
9. You learn to find balance.
The practice of Yin Yoga teaches us to find a balance between ease and discomfort, strength and surrender, nourishment and growth. It asks us to find our edge and stay there, honouring our boundaries instead of pushing ourselves to the point of pain. This is a beautiful example of how time on our yoga mat can provide us with valuable lessons and powerful tools to carry into other areas of our life.
10. You meditate without even realising it.
We’ve all heard (and probably said) it a million times: “I don’t have time to meditate”. In truth, meditation gives us time, but it can often feel like yet another source of pressure or yet another thing you aren’t accomplishing in your day. The thing that should relieve our stress ends up adding more! We totally feel you. The solution? Yin Yoga, darlings. Yoga and meditation in one beautiful, hour-long, soul-nourishing package. Two birds with one stone, if you will. By settling into one posture for 5+ minutes, bringing our awareness to our breath, and slowing evvvverything down, we create space in the mind, learn to detach from our thoughts, and encourage feelings of relaxation. It’s like a gentle ninja, combatting stress and helping us to cope better with the demands of life. Who doesn't want that?
Ready to reap all of these benefits and more? We offer multiple yin classes every week, and regular yin-based workshops on weekends. Look for Chill on our Class Schedule to start building your weekly relaxation ritual, and visit our website for upcoming events and workshops!
See you on the mat xx