What is Yin Yoga?

“I’m not flexible enough,” they say. But as a yoga teacher, all I hear them say is “I’m not enough.”

But you are! I tell them. You are so enough. More than enough. I can’t even begin to tell you how ‘enough’ you really are.

I find it strange (and mildly disheartening) that people think they have to ‘be’ a certain something to do yoga, when to begin with yoga was just a group of middle-aged Indian guys in white robes wanting to get a good stretch before meditating. In essence, all yoga really wants is for us to completely accept everything and everyone - especially ourselves, as the perfectly imperfect and wonderfully flawed human beings that we are.

Let the whole world know that the practice of yoga is for everybody and every body. See what I did there?

Yoga is for the Lululemon-wearing, pretzel-like yogis and the corporate yogis and the retirees and the athletes and for the self-proclaimed ‘inflexible people’ such as my Dad, who may never be able to touch his toes or do a backbend but would benefit from yoga just as much as anyone else (if not more). I guess that’s the point here – in yoga everyone has a place; everyone is welcome and wanted. No exceptions.

Which leads us to yin yoga. What is it? And why am I so excited to share it with you?

By definition, yin yoga is a series of passive, long-held postures (usually 3-5 minutes) that target connective tissues (that is ligaments/tendons/joints) unlike the many types of ‘yang’ style yoga that stress and strengthen the muscles. In a yin class, I guide you into the posture, you relax, you breathe, there's meditative music, I talk a bit, there’s candles and... that’s it really. It’s all very juicy and can be very transformational (if you let it).

Aside from the physical benefits of having a damn good stretch and the mental ‘yoga high’ you get after a practice, why is it so good for us? It’s not a workout like a fast-paced vinyasa class or a sweat-fest like Bikram. So it’s the slow, easy, boring yoga then, right? Kind of a waste of time?

Heck no it’s not.

Many yin teachers would argue that yin can be the most challenging practice of all (and anyone that’s held a deep pigeon pose or runner’s lunge for five minutes can attest to that). The greatest challenge is not the pain of a deep hip opener. It’s the way yin yoga challenges the mind.

In our yang-ish world we’re constantly ‘doing’ rather than ‘being’. We jam-pack our lives with deadlines, goals and to-do lists. We glorify busy-ness and confuse stress with productivity and if we’re not engaged or stimulated all of the time, we start to feel lost and lonely.

For most of us, being still and quiet and at home with ourselves for an hour of the week can be pure torture. We’re afraid to know what will come up, or where our minds may go, if we let ourselves be really, truly present. And we get uncomfortable when things get real. It’s called vulnerability – and I believe we need more of it in our lives and in our world. Much, much more.

So let’s slow things down, let’s stretch and breathe and be still every once in a while. Let’s relax and make space for a little vulnerability – both on the mat and in our lives. We might just be surprised at how flexible we become in the process.

Book online to join Yvette in her Yin Yoga classes at Stoke Physio every Monday night at 7:30pm. Bookings are made online here, and the cost is $15 per class (cash only).

#yoga #yinyoga

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