It can be easy to go through life believing that stress and anxiety are common and unavoidable pieces of modern life.
On one hand they are difficult to avoid in a culture that is so rapidly moving and expanding, but with the right tools, we believe you can take a more active role in understanding and preventing your own stress and anxiety.
Yin yoga is one of our favorite ways to nurture slowing down and releasing stress and we can’t wait to share this practice with you.
The name comes from Chinese Medicine in which they speak of the yin and yang, which are opposing energies in the universe.
The majority of yoga practices you will find in the western world fall into the yang category with a fast paced flow and use of effort.
Since this mirrors what current culture is like, it begs us to find an opposing practice to balance the energy flow and invite more calm into our way of being.
Yin is considered the softer, slower side of yoga.
Yin is the surrender.
The opposite of the effort.
A yin yoga practice is holding passive poses for longer periods to allow your body to soften and surrender into the posture.
Most of the poses are practiced on the ground where you can allow your muscles to release.
Holding the postures for 3-10 minutes each will give you time to become more aware of how your body is feeling and also allow your body time to relax into the stretch.
This practice provides balance from the constant rush and yang energy found in the modern world.
Often considered a meditative practice, yin calms by forcing you to slow down and allowing you to come into the present moment. When you bring your attention into the present moment, you can not live in a space of stress and anxiety.
Yin yoga can be a tool for you to find balance and avoid feelings of overwhelm.
In a study on meditation and yoga, neuroscientist, Sara Lazar, found that a regular practice results in a thickening of the cerebral cortex. This is the part of your brain associated with your emotions. She also found that at the same time your cerebral cortex is thickening, your amygdala, which is responsible for your “fight or flight” response, shrinks. These two changes in the brain aid in reducing stress and anxiety.
You can hold all the poses below for 3-5 minutes. It is encouraged to use a timer if you find yourself distracted by checking the time.
This entire practice will take 15-25 minutes depending on how long you hold each pose.
Feel free to light a candle, dim the lights, uses some essential oils and turn on some relaxing tunes (we love this Spotify Yin Yoga playlist).
We highly recommend practicing yin before you climb into bed or any other time throughout the day when you are needing some extra calm.
Remember that you can come out of any pose at any time. You should not force yourself to stay anywhere you are unbearably uncomfortable or experiencing any pain.
Focus on taking some full breaths and allowing yourself to stay present to what sensations arise throughout your practice. This mindful presence will help you to notice when you can stay longer and when your body is ready to release a posture.
From a table top position, press your hips back over your heels.
Walk your arms forward and bring your forehead down to the ground.
To add the prayer hands, bring palms together and your thumbs to the back of your head. If the prayer arms are too intense, you can practice this with the arms reaching forward and palms remaining on the mat.
If you desire a deeper hip stretch, you can take your knees wider. If you would like some extra support, lay your torso on a pillow or two.
Come onto your back and place both feet on the wall with your knees stacked over your hips.
Cross your left ankle over your right knee.
Feel free to move your hips closer or farther from the wall depending on the intensity you feel.
After releasing, pause for a few breaths and then switch sides.
While on your back, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet down to the ground.
Press into your feet to lift your hips and place the block* under the base of your spine.
*If you don’t have a block, you can also use a few books, a pillow, or a rolled up blanket.
Bring your bum close to a wall and swing your legs up the wall.
Once your legs are up the wall, you can scoot your bum closer to the wall if you need.
Let a slight bend remain in your knees and your feet relax.
To add extra support, place a pillow under your hips and a blanket under your head.
Extend your arms and legs on the ground, finding a comfortable place to rest.
Your arms can rest alongside you, or your hands can rest on your belly and chest.
Take a few minutes to observe the sensations of your breath as it moves in and out of your body.
Give yourself time to be here without any expectations.