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Let 2015 be the year of YIN yoga

January 15, 2015 by Cal Wansbrough 

Yin Yoga is hot right now.  More yin classes are springing up in London everywhere – and for good reason too.  We all need to slow our lives right down and yin gives you permission to do just this.  We are all obsessed with burning calories, working hard, playing hard, there is no time to rest, ‘no time to stand and stare’.  Busi-ness is the must have fashion accessory, it makes us feel and seem important, it gives us the illusion that we are living a meaningful,  important  life, stuffed full of activity, stuffed full of doing, stuffing ourselves full of worthiness.  But we all need recovery time,  we all need rest, we are only as strong and stoic as the foundations we build.   Enter Yin Yoga. Make it one of your 2015 resolutions.  Slow down.  Create meaning and mindfulness.  Yin is a magical practice, where the poses are held for an extended period of time,  creating a long slow extension of the body, unwinding of compacted fascia, and unknotting and releasing of muscles.  It is grounding, calming and revitalising, with profound physical, energetic and emotional affects.  Yin is the antithesis of busi-ness and instead celebrates calm, contemplation, celebrates ‘a life full of care’, where you ‘can stand and stare’.   Here are 5 big reasons to try Yin Yoga for 2015…  

  1. You stretch beyond the muscle fibres and in to the connective tissue and fascia. Fascia is a continuous web of tissue which weaves in and around our organs, muscles, nerves, lymph. It is everywhere, and to be truly flexible we much stretch this out.  Fascia, unlike muscles which require repetitive dynamic movement, needs long held, gentle stretches.   In changing the pattern of the fascia, you start to remove and release the chronic tension patterns in your tissues and body.  This can lead in the long term to a wonderful emotional unfolding.  Quite literally we store issues in our tissues and yin yoga is a fantastic way of releasing them.
  1. We learn to be still in our yin practice. Unlike other forms of exercise, even other forms of yoga, where we are moving and it’s dynamic, yin is still, mostly on the ground,  slow and un-yielding.  Needless to say this is an increasingly difficult thing for Westerners to be, with the constant and persistent onslaught of busi-ness,  technology, emailing, texting, tweeting, facebooking, instagramming.  Endless social media updates to prove that you are ‘on It’ (whatever It may be) and that you are keeping up with the latest technology / fashion / fads / music / celebrities.   That you are really busy, and you are really important, that your life is worth living.  Come to a yin class and suddenly you are away from it all, there is nothing to do, nothing to watch, you sit there and be still.  You sit there and be.  You sit there and connect to yourself.  You sit there and cannot distract yourself or run away….  Be warned, this is way more challenging then you might suspect!
  1. Yin yoga gives you permission to rest, and relax to DE- STRESS. This relaxation drops you down in to the parasympathetic nervous system. This place is where our body ‘rests and digests’, where the body begins to heal itself.  Blood, nutrients, energy goes in to the often neglected systems of our body; our digestive system, our endocrine system, our reproductive organs, our lymphatic system.  Our body detoxifies and begins to nourish itself, it rebalances, it recalibrates.  Our body is allowed to work its own magic.
  1. Yin Yoga is based on the principles of Chinese Medicine; Chinese medicine works on the idea of energy flowing through meridian lines in our body, and where the energy is deficient or stagnant then we may feel ill at ease (dis-eased), tense, fatigued, irritable, stuck, anxious, incapable – the list is endless.  These meridian lines are located deep within the fascia of the body and when stretching out the fascia we are also stimulating and releasing  the flow of energy / chi / prana /  through our bodies.  When energy is released and stimulated and flows through our body, we have a sense of general wellbeing and ‘ease’, a lightness, a sense of rebalance, a sense that all is well within the world again.   Releasing energy through the meridian lines has a profound effect physical, mentally and emotionally. On all three levels, it slows us down, creates space, and  helps to control our thoughts.  It lessens those destructive thought patterns, it changes the way we think and we begin to break away from our physical and mental holding patterns.
  1. And finally….. Yin yoga prepares you like nothing else for meditation. Unlike other forms of yoga it opens up the joints and joint capsules and connective tissue of the body and therefore sitting still for long periods of time becomes manageable and pain free.   You can meditate without the distraction of pain in your body.   Seriously, pain, pins and needles, agitation, discomfort become great excuses not to meditate.  Yin Yoga relieves these, and as the practice itself harbours stillness, it becomes the natural precursor to meditation.
  Yin Yoga rocks. In a world where we are obsessed with ‘doing’ and obsessed with ‘tightening’ and ‘shrinking’ and ‘creating’ muscle mass it is provides the much needed antidote; relaxing, being, lengthening,  it affirms that as we are now;  we are enough.   We can both live a life ‘full of care’ and create a life where there is ‘time to stop and stare’, there is time ‘to stand beneath the boughs and stare as long as sheep or cows’.