I am writing this blog post ahead of my first live online Yin class (3 September 2020). I wanted to give you an opportunity to become acquainted with this style of practice, to offer a space to ask any questions and to provide ideas about how you can practice with me at home.
Yin is where I first fell in love with yoga- where I realised the strength in the practice and what my mind and body was capable of doing when I gave it the time and space to do it. When I listened. Through the practice I became more aware and more compassionate towards my body and, as a result, more at home within myself. This feeling of being at home within myself lead to a deeper empathy and compassion for those around me. That we all have our struggles whatever may show on the surface and that all our experiences are valid. That we all have the power to reconnect to ourselves and the world through the practice of yoga. But perhaps this is going too deep too quickly…
If you follow the link below, you will find a short video where I introduce some key points to practicing Yin yoga and what it is. (One day soon I will learn how to embedded the video but for now I will focus on getting the information shared and concentrate on being prepared for our class tonight)
And if you don’t have 12 minutes, here are the main points:
- Yin is a slow, unhurried practice, but it not easy.
- The three principles that Yin is based on are:
1) Finding your edge. Moving into the shape until you feel sensation but not pushing beyond- like tuning analogue radio- looking for that clear signal. Time and gravity will increase sensation for you, there is no need to strive.
2) Being still. After the first few breaths of exploring the shape, we surrender to stillness in the body and the mind. Resisting urges to fidget and using our breath to help keep focussed and present.
3) Holding the pose. We stay in Yin poses for 1-5 minutes. This time allows the joints and deep connective tissues to be stressed (in a good way!) to increase strength in the joint, flexibility and range of movement. To release tension. It mentally gives us an opportunity to sit with dis-ease and discomfort, allowing us to face what arises within us and let go of what no longer serves us. As a result of this release, people can experience strong emotional reactions. This is very natural. If you can, allow yourself to go with it, give yourself permission to let go knowing you are in a safe space. If its too much, or you don’t feel in a place to have a release, take a break if you need to.
- Yin uses props to close the gap between the floor and our bodies, helping us to feel supported to facilitate the releasing of tightness and tension. You can certainly practice without props- but I am big fan as I feel they can help us explore the poses in different ways- especially as we are different every time we come to the mat.
If you don’y have a supply of ‘yoga props’ at home- don’t worry! There are lots of items around the house you can use. This photo is taken from Jivana Heyman’s book ‘Accessible Yoga; Poses and Practices for Every Body‘ gives some great examples of things you already have at home. (It’s a brilliant guide for anyone looking to explore their practice of yoga postures).
*If you don’t have a yoga mat, for Yin I would recommend not practicing directly on the floor and using a blanket or a towel.
- The shapes we make might be similar to poses you’ve come across in a Hatha yoga practice, but in Yin the names are different. This allows us to approach the practice without preconceptions, judgements and expectations about ourselves.
- If there is pain, pinching or pins and needles- slowly move out of the pose, maybe pausing when the pain is gone, or completely coming out of the posture. You may find you can go back slowly using more props, or that perhaps it isn’t the right shape for you at that moment. Over practices together you will learn how you can move and stretch the body in a way that works for you.
- Yin yoga draws from Taoist philosophy and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and refers to energy as Qi. In TCM, Qi moves through pathways called Meridians. This is a much deeper topic and will be explored through our practice together. I just wanted to introduce to the terms here.
In the video I read a short paragraph from Norman Blair’s beautiful book ‘Brightening Our Inner Skies Yin and Yoga’. I throughly recommend having a look at his website and reading this book if you can place your hands on a copy- it is joyful. I would love to read the whole thing to you but I will settle on one short quote that speaks to me as a resonant and insightful view of the practice of Yin:
The experience of practicing Yin yoga might be described as moving with grace. Gratitude, recognising what is, acceptance; curiosity and effort. Instead of being critical, we are curious in how we engage…This approach of grace is a much sweeter place to be than that of ambition and striving, of straining to impress and desperately seeking to improve.
I hope this introduction has inspired you to be curious about practicing Yin and I would be honoured to share the journey with you. If you are interested in joining me on Zoom (Mondays 10am & Thursdays 7pm, Spanish time), or if you have any questions, please get in touch.
I look forward to seeing you on the mat
(Photo credit: Kat @nomada_retreat, taken at our ‘Beyond the Mat Full Moon Celebration’ Thank you for the photo and everyone you came to share the evening with us)