Today’s post is a bit different considering most of my posts are usually about a certain life lesson, but it’s been a bit of a rough Monday and I thought why not share one of the most amazing practices I’ve recently discovered that actually helps and puts me in a state of zen and calm. That’s right my friends, YOGA! And not just any yoga, but YIN YOGA! I’m sure a lot of folks aren’t familiar with yin yoga, just because it’s not as popular as say, hatha or vinyasa yoga, but it still has MANY lovely benefits, especially when trying to relieve stress.
The Self Love Daily Challenge #019 – Try Yin Yoga!
What is Yin Yoga? Well, to explain it in the most simplest of terms, yin yoga is a type of yoga where postures or asanas are held typically for longer periods of time – five minutes or longer (most often). This is not a restorative practice, so don’t get it confused. It targets the connective tissues in the hips, lower spine, and pelvic area. Generally, these are all areas where we tend to keep a lot of pent up tension in our bodies. I’ve read that tight hips can be a sign of emotional stress. But when we practice hip opener poses, it allows our bodies to release these emotional forms of stress like the anxiety and fear that we feel. And this is why Yin Yoga is perfect for releasing stress, especially emotional type of stress.
Yin yoga is also a very slow practice, so it helps our minds and bodies also slow down, unlike in vinyasa yoga where our bodies are constantly moving with our breath, which does clear the mind in some form, but sometimes a slower practice is what we truly need to tame our monkey minds. I know that sometimes slower practices are actually more difficult than vinyasa practices for that very reason. Because we have to discipline ourselves to stay in one postures for a longer period of time, it actually gives the mind more opportunity to wander or become restless, but the purpose of yoga is to train our minds – to tame the craziness, so to speak. So by practicing a deep focus on our breath as we practice Yin yoga, we can begin to retrain our minds to also become more calm.
How does this pertain to self love? Well, any kind of self care is really an act of self love. Whether we are taking care of our bodies by doing exercise, taking a bath or relieving our minds from a ton of stress (emotional or otherwise), it is an act of self care. So don’t view it as a waste of time just because you’re not actively working out your body. It is still a work out and beneficial. Although you are not working out muscles in an active way, you are still doing a form of exercise. Opening up tight spaces and getting into deeper connective tissues is still a form of workout. It might just not be as active. Sometimes, you will actually feel sore from holding certain postures for long periods of time, because it will contract muscles in your body that are not used to being contracted.
As far as my personal experience with Yin Yoga, I LOVE IT. It is my go to workout for when I am having a particularly stressful day. Sometimes, I will even practice a few poses on my lunch break, just so I can feel refreshed to go back to work after lunch. The beauty of yoga is you don’t need anything but your own body, You don’t even need a mat, you can do it anywhere! So it’s literally like a personal stress reliever on the go.
At first, it was a bit challenging for me to hold the poses, just because I was so restless and not used to being in one position for longer periods of time. I wanted to move and be active. My mind would race with thoughts like, “ok are we done yet? next pose…come on…i can’t sit here any longer… ugh.. my leg is going numb or something. oh my nose is itchy… ah come on.. is five minutes over yet?” Yeah…you will definitely have those thoughts when you are trying it out for the first time, especially if you are anything like me and don’t have any patience when it comes to sitting still and simply being with your body. I feel like it’s hard for a lot of people to actually sit still with their bodies and minds. Maybe it’s because we are just so afraid of feeling things that we don’t want to feel, the things that we try to keep hidden and tucked away. But yin yoga will bring that uncomfortable out, but the key is to just sit with it. Sit with the uncomfortable. Let it be. Feel all that you are feeling and just let it pass through. Once you can stop resisting, that’s when you will find peace.
So I encourage you to give it a try, whether you are feeling stressed or just want to try a new type of self care routine. The link for my favorite yin yoga routine is at the top. It’s on youtube. It’s free. Yes, it’s a little over an hour but it’s totally worth it! You will feel refreshed and amazing.