I have taken my focus into yin lately. As I have written about before, I struggle with anxiety. I have always pushed hard when it came to my workouts, and my life. I figured that I could out work the anxiety. Instead, my anxiety became worse and worse and worse.
I sustained a fairly severe injury in January 2020, right before the pandemic hit. Then, the pandemic hit. That combination made my anxiety go completely out of whack. Extreme exercise was out since my ankle couldn't bear much weight, and I didn't have work to throw myself into.
That's when I discovered yin yoga. Many people think that yin yoga and restorative yoga are the same. They are not. Yin yoga does involve long holds of only a select few poses using props, just like restorative yoga. However, the goal of yin is to find your limit, your edge, and maintain that sensation during the hold. In restorative yoga, you get into a very supported, very comfortable position, and hold there letting everything completely relax and melt. Yin isn't as fiery as yang (traditional hatha) yoga, but it is a solid yoga. You aren't just "being". You are still working.
The idea behind yin yoga is balance. In the universe, there is yin and there is yang. They work together for balance. Yin is cooling, it is slower, it winter. Yang is heating, it is quick, it is summer. Most of our busy lives would be considered yang. It keeps us up and going and busy. You need to match all of that heat and energy with yin to help you cool off.
The long holds in yin allow you to work your tendons, ligaments, joints, and fascia on a much deeper level than traditional yoga. It also encourages you to turn inward and focus on your true self.
This combination of work and meditation has proven amazing for my anxiety. I still get the physically taxing work that my muscles crave, and I get to look inward. Having a sensation that you focus on, or makes you focus on it, allows your mind to process things subconsciously.
In yin yoga, you still need to bring the breath. However, since you aren't flowing through vinyasas it's not about synchronizing your breath to your movement and is about allowing your breath to help guide you through the needed mental and physical stamina to hold each posture.
Yin yoga is also a low to the ground yoga. Most of the focus in on the hips, upper legs, back, and core. These are the largest muscle groups in the body, that a person works pretty much all the time. These tendons, ligaments, and fascia associated with these areas of the body, don't always get the attention they deserve and can freeze up from too many yang activities.
Depending on the teacher, the classes may be spiritual or secular. Either way the long poses and silences allow you to do any internal work you need at the time.
Yin yoga is also great because it helps strengthen your joints and stimulates the nervous system allowing your body to heal more efficiently.
If you have any questions about Yin, or want to take a class, please reach out and contact me.