Is it time to inject some ‘yin’ into your life?
Calming the mind is yoga. Not just standing on the head
Phew, what a relief as I don’t do ‘standing on my head’. I’ve always resisted it, pre and post head injury. Yoga is my medicine, a pill popping substitute with lasting results . If possible, I aim for a daily dose. If I don’t get to do physical yoga, then I salute the sun in a different way, I meditate.
Most forms of yoga these days are ‘yang’. Yang focuses on building up heat and maximising your movement. Yin yoga however has a different intention and focus, it lets us move inside our bodies and have a closer look at what’s going on, spending time on the inside, something we don’t do enough of in our busy society.
As much as I love a good old twist and shout in my yoga practice, yoga’s not all about getting hot and sweaty in downward facing dog!
I was introduced to ‘yin’ yoga a few years ago on a yoga retreat at the foot of the atlas Mountains with the wonderful Stephanie Shanti. I came out of the class feeling really relaxed, almost sleepy. I liked the slow, meditative pace to it that I hadn’t got from other types of yoga. Fortunately, yin has since become more mainstream and my gym now holds two to three classes a week.
Trusty Wikipedia defines yin yoga as :
A slow paced style of yoga with postures, or asanas that are held for longer periods of time…yin yoga poses apply moderate stress to the connective tissues of the body, the tendons, fascia and ligaments – with the aim of increasing flexibility of the joints and improving flexibility.
Fascia or the ‘F’ word
As hideous as this word is, and I won’t be convinced otherwise, the ‘F’ word makes up some pretty important areas of the body and despite being totally non-medical, I understand that there’s no way to get to the “fascia” without practices such as yin.
If it’s good enough for PTs, it’s good enough for me
I very much expected the class to be frequented by people like me who want a bit of a lie down and relaxation after a hard days work. Well, how wrong was I, it was full of fit looking gym bods and personal trainers. As the lovely and talented Sharon Saker who teaches at the Third Space gym in Canary Wharf patiently explained, the yin was a class loved by those who wanted something a little slower paced than a faster vinyasa class. She also said it was equally popular with those who had just done a full on work out. Sharon is a wonderful teacher who has been actively involved in the world of health and wellness for over 25 years on a global scale. Sharon pays great attention to those suffering injuries or dis ease of any kind and always finds an alternative posture to help ease any discomfort or pain.
Yin and yang
Yin yoga isn’t intended to be a complete yoga practice in itself, instead it is intended to compliment other forms of yoga, be it Hatha or vinyasa, or both. Or, perhaps you aren’t a yogi at all, yin could also be for those incredibly fit people out there who need to stretch and really dig deep into the fascia to release tension.
One dose a week is enough for the body
Yin is a practice that your body needs to learn from and apparently this is a slow process. It needs to digest it thoroughly after class so once a week is enough. Other types of yoga can safely be practiced daily but with yin the recommended dosage is once, max, twice a week.
Like with dark chocolate and all of the other finer things in life, you don’t need a lot of something good to enjoy it and reap the benefits.
What I know for sure is that for me it certainly helps to calm Crohns dis ease. Recent inflammatory marker tests came back normal which is pretty unusual for someone not medicating for the dis ease. I cannot claim that yin yoga will do the same for you, not least, as this is part of a broader tool box that I use to calm Crohns. However, given how easy it is on the body and the mind, I would encourage you to sign up for a class near you to give it a go. After all, if you don’t try, you’ll never know…..please just remember to tell your yoga teacher about Crohn’s and how it affects your practice. And, always listen to your body, not the body of the teacher or the bendy person on the mat next to yours. Enjoy and reap the benefits!