In Western culture, we often think that to exercise, we need to sweat away for hours on a treadmill and/or lift heavy weights until we leave the gym sore and exhausted.
While there are benefits to cardiovascular exercise and lifting weights (safely, of course), you can get just as many health benefits from a gentler practice, such as yin yoga.
Benefits of Yin Yoga
Balance Your Life and Reduce Stress: As I often say in my yin yoga classes, the slower pace of yin allows us to balance our lives. In our society, we have a lot of demands on us that keep us go, go, going (yang energy). Yin actually forces you to just STOP, which will help you feel more balanced and relaxed.
When we are in a constant state of movement, our fight-or-flight nervous system is activated, which is why we feel stressed out and on-edge. Not only do we feel frayed, our body is so busy keeping us moving that it spends less energy on digestion and other important functions. Yin can help us activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which resets our body and helps us relax.
Increase Presence: In yin yoga, you hold poses for 3-5 minutes. When your mind wanders, and it will, you gently return your focus to the sensations in your body and your breath. This is great practice for building mindfulness, which you can take off the mat. When your mind starts to whirl a million miles a minute (as you're sitting in traffic, at a meeting, etc.), you will be more apt to remind yourself to return to the moment at hand if you have a strong yin practice. Much research has proved the benefits of mindfulness.
Increases flexibility, joint lubrication & mobility: Because you hold postures for longer periods of time, you're putting gentle pressure on your tissues and joints. This pressure can help break apart scar tissue from previous injuries and reduce the degeneration that we all face from aging. The longer holds also encourage a full range of motion.
Cultivate Prana: While a discussion of prana is a longer blog post, basically, this is the subtle life force that flows through our bodies (it's something we work with and cultivate during pranayama, or breath work, at the beginning of classes). Certain postures in yin cultivate and improve the circulation of prana, which can improve organ health, increase vitality and remove energetic blocks.
Prepares You for Meditation: At Point Bliss Yoga Studio, we focus on more than just asana, or the physical practice of yoga. We also believe that pranayama and meditation are just as important to holistic health. Yin yoga helps you prepare for meditation by silencing the mind and opening up the body for prolonged periods of sitting. You can expect further blogs about the benefits of breath work and meditation.
Ready to give yin yoga a try? View our schedule and sign-up for a class today.