Have you tried a YIN class yet?
The first time I did a YIN class, it was a few years ago and it had just been introduced at our local hot yoga studio. I had no idea what to expect, I just turned up and went with the ‘flow’ – well there wasn’t any ‘flow’, just long, slow holds of all my favourite stretches. It was like someone had just given me the permission to hang-out, with a big couch pillow (I now know it's called a bolster!) and a few blocks to prop me up, and do several essential stretches within an hour class!
I remember going into each stretch thinking, ‘yehhh this is fab’, but then after 2 mins thinking, ‘okay I’m ready to come out of this now’, my brain was in overdrive wondering how long will we be here because I’m getting uncomfortable and i feel a cramp coming on! I soon learnt to relax, breathe and surrender to each posture; not to push, shove or kick, but sink, breathe and ‘just be’. This took a few classes, to be honest!
At the time, I thought, ‘I’ve only got so many hours a week to train, do yoga etc’, do I really want to give up one hour where I achieve ‘nothing’?’ Of course in those days, everything I did was linked to ‘achievement’ and ‘doing stuff’- fitness, strength…ego-stuff. The more yoga I did (and the older I got), the more I appreciated that I have too much YANG (run/skip/jump kind of stuff) in my life already and allowing someone to guide and help me into restorative postures, where the focus is on breath and stillness, is a treat, an indulgence, but also a fantastic addition to the well-being of my body and brain – honest!….I don’t make this stuff up :)
I try to do a YIN session at least once a week, sometimes it’s tagged onto the back of a YANG session in Carly’s weekly YANG / YIN class and it’s a fab way to finish the class. Sometimes I just do it on my own and pick the stretches that my body needs right now. Yin can improve the flow of qi (pronounced chee) or energy flow, so things run more efficiently throughout the body, or meridians, improving organ health, immunity and emotional balance. It’s a similar effect one might experience from acupuncture or deep tissue massage.
So what’s happening when we do YIN? YIN is performed in a warm room, no heat. In most classes you see in Western yoga and at the gym, students are working with their yang muscles, or power muscles. When practicing yin yoga, students are asked to relax into postures, taking on a more passive approach to working through deep connective tissue and fascia in the body. Fascia connects every part of our body together and by caring for your fascia, you are maximizing athletic performance and muscle flexibility.
YIN is a gentle, yet challenging, yoga practice that allows you to ‘drop into’ your own body, listen, and be present with anything and everything that comes up, both physically and mentally. Yin is a seated, grounding practice, and poses are held for 3-5 minutes in order to bring mobility to the joints and ligaments – you are stressing the ligaments/joints and tendons in a safe environment. By practicing this style of yoga, you are able to work deeper into the muscles to transform the way the body moves. Yin Yoga offers ‘busy Yang types’ a chance to find stillness in the mind and body.
At this time of year, when our bodies are often sore and aching and our minds are busy and stressed, a YIN session is a gift in-itself. If you are unsure about taking on a whole YIN session, try the YANG YIN class every Tuesday at 7pm, which gives you 45 mins of strong YANG postures and then 30 mins of slow YIN postures. This combo can be extremely addictive and beneficial if you’ve gone hard on a Monday with exercise and are sore and want to stretch, sweat, detox – followed by YIN postures – therapy for the body!
- SUNDAY SUPER WORKOUT: Try TRX at 10am for 1 hour, followed by Yin at 1130am for 1 hour. A super combo of strength training, followed by some therapy/massage. This is a winner!
- Hard run/ride on Sat/Sunday am? Come and do YIN at 1130am and restore your body.
- TAME TUESDAY: Did you go hard on Monday and you are now sore, tired? Try the YANG YIN class at 7pm. It’s performed in a warm room.
- YIN 2 HOUR WORKSHOP IN JANUARY: Immerse yourself in this two hour YIN workshop, which is perfect at this time of year, when you are looking to detox, restore, renew and kick-start your immune system. Sat, 20th of January, 2pm to 5pm, £20pp. You’ll learn more about the science behind YIN and be guided through several postures.