Five reasons why yin yoga is, like, the best thing, ever.

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 in Benefits, Yin, Yin yoga Hertfordshire, Yoga Berkhamsted, Yoga Hertfordshire, Yoga St Albans | 4 comments

A few years ago I went for a job interview at The Life Centre in London. One of the questions I was asked was: “How would you describe yin yoga to a prospective student?” I said I had no idea. I’d heard of it but hadn’t practiced it. Suffice to say, I didn’t get that job.

And now, here I am waxing lyrical about the wonders of yin yoga.

Clare Wener yin yoga Hertfordshire
You may never have heard of yin yoga, or perhaps like me during that interview, you’ve seen it on studio schedules but haven’t ventured any further. You may have been to my monthly Hertfordshire yin yoga workshops but it’s fair to say that it’s a wonderful, nourishing practice. I’m biased, of course, but here are my five reasons why:

1. Yin yoga teaches acceptance

When you’re in a pose for a minimum of five minutes, you can’t push it. If you do, you’ll regret it. So it teaches you to stay where you feel something, but not too much – not trying to inch your forehead closer to your shins in a forward bend. And anyway, over the duration of the pose, your body will open and you’ll naturally go deeper. No pushing, no judgement, just accepting.

2. Yin yoga cultivates a beginners mind

The postures have different names in yin yoga. For example, pigeon pose is called ‘swan’. This encourages us to approach each pose with no hang-ups about how we’d ‘usually’ do the pose in a yoga class.

The mind of the beginner is empty, free of all habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt and open to all possibilities.

Suzuki Roshi


3. Yin yoga creates space

When we sit in a yin pose, we create space in our bodies, in our minds, and in our day-to-day lives. On a physical level, our connective tissue surrounding our joints starts to become more malleable, improving our flexibility.

A reading from Reggie Ray covers this aspect nicely:

Here’s a teaching that Chögyam Trungpa gave that has changed the way a lot of people look at their work lives: learn how to invite space into your worklife. The space itself will actually accomplish most of what you 
need to do. In the form of helpful people turning up, auspicious coincidences… And in so doing, you are not only opening up your self, you are opening up the world. It becomes a dance. It’s no longer your job to sit there for 10 hours doing your thing, it’s to respond to the way the world wants things to happen. It’s de-centralized.

Read the Reggie Ray full article.

This has felt particularly apt for me over the past few weeks. Thank you, world.


4. Yin yoga achieves balance

The weekly grind can get you down. We’re always watching the clock. We’re getting children to school/clubs on time, rushing for the train, keeping our bosses/partners happy, I could go on.

We’re also always on the go when we do finally relax. TV keeps our minds active and we also stay busy when we exercise – going to the gym, running, cycling – or even through more energetic forms of yoga such as ashtanga and vinyasa flow. They all generate heat and get you moving.

This is all great, but we have to make space to be still and surrender.

Yin provides this balance. Being still can be hard but it’s necessary to counter all the busy-ness in our hectic Western lives.

5. Yin yoga is about awareness

When we practice yin yoga, it’s inward focussed. We start to notice sensations within, and naturally you’ll find that you start to watch your mind. We notice our thoughts – whether they’re positive or negative, linked to the past or the future, and whether they’re recurring. It allows us to connect within.

 

So there you go. There’s my five reasons. Perhaps you’ve encountered similar things if you’ve practiced yin yoga. Feel free to leave your observations below.

I teach weekly yin yoga classes at Bermondsey Fayre, London SE1; The Yoga Hall in St Albans; and from 25 February I’ll be starting a weekly class at BAYoga Studio in Berkhamsted. More details on the class schedule page. I also teach monthly yin yoga and yin/yang workshops in Hertfordshire.

 

A mind that is fast is sick

A mind that is slow is sound

A mind that is still is divine.

 

Meher Baba

4 Comments

  1. Thank you, for a wonderful article. This is exactly why I have been teaching Yin since 2006, (when I first trained with Paul Grilley) and why I still traveled around the world to continue my training with him…

    • Thank you Regina.

  2. Om Clare,

    Thanks for the wonderful post!

    Without ever having done any formal training in Yin yoga (yet!), I find that today my own self practice has just naturally gravitated – literally – to a Yin style. My practice just doesn’t reach the same heights if I feel I’m rushing through postures mechanically, without taking time to focus, listen and feel… to connect with the inner peace and stillness, and, above all, just accept… which, quite rightly comes as your N° 1 reason…!!!

    I’ll never forget one of the first, most invaluable practical life-lessons that yoga has ever taught me, and which has served me very well over the years. When I first started many years ago now, my life was an ontological battlefield. I seemed to be fighting with so much… so much that I didn’t like, so much that I wanted to change… and, worse still, despite the desire to change things, I felt totally powerless to do anything about it! I remember one day sitting, uncomfortably, in sitting forward bend – everybody’s favourite posture – trying to focus, whilst struggling to force myself deeper into the pose, battling with the posture, when the teacher came to me and gently reminded me to relax, to accept, to let go and listen… As I, and any yoga practitioner worthy of his karma, now know, she was talking to me on a much deeper level than just the physical asana!

    And the remarkable truth is that once I did, then the power I needed to change my life and make it what it could be, just came to me, from a Source, a Clarity, greater than myself, one might say. To connect with that Source, to receive that Clarity, I needed to create the necessary space to allow it in, unimpeded…! so that I could feel it, hear it, and trust in it… – which if I understand correctly, is more or less, what you, and the very cool-named Reggie Ray, are saying! In order to do this, the first step, is acceptance… accepting oneself, and life, as it is; how the Truth which is to be found in the expanse of your tender sentient heart tells you it is, and not how the maya of your mind might delude you into believing it should, must, or ought to be…

    Now, when I meditate (for that is what I’m doing) in Paschimottanasana, I’m already looking forward to that moment of stillness, space, peace, light and clarity that I start to feel (usually after about 3/4 minutes) which brings so much comfort, on every level, I could willingly sit there for hours…!!! And not least because I recognise that there is a much more profound and productive, practical purpose to what I’m actually doing… which, as you quite rightly say Clare, is “why Yin yoga is, “like” (sadly, can’t use italics in the comment box, Clare, sorry! ;)), the best thing ever!”

    I never thought I’d have so much to say that seated forward-bend!!!

    Love ‘n’ Peace,

    Conor Vishnu

  3. Great article! Thanks for sharing. These are a few of the reasons I love to practice and teach yin as well. Spreading the yin love! 🙂

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