How it All Began:
The first yoga class I tried outside of half-hearted showups at studios was Yin Yoga.
At the time, several years back, I was consistently anxious— daily crying, panic attacks…the works. Broke as a joke and mid-crisis (not an ideal moment to find a studio), I googled and found a free Yin Yoga class online from Esther Ekhart.
Yin classes are quite different than traditional active Yoga classes—they’re essentially their soothing counterpart—they compliment each other beautifully!
For the reasons described below, I was drawn to continued practice like a moth to the porch light—and I began doing Yin classes online several times a week.
Continuing Yin never felt like “discipline” or a “commitment”—it was sweet relief.
What is Yin?
Yin classes leave me feeling like spreadable butter. In the best way possible.
In a Yin class, the focus is not on muscular activation but rather, poses held for an extended time with an intention to open + release— allowing gravity and time to gradually deepen you into the posture.
These slow, extended poses allows your joints and deep connective tissue to receive the stretch.In this greater length of stillness in a posture, the meditative quality of a Yin class is enhanced.
Though there is less action in Yin, there is great benefit from honing mindfulness mindfulness—the will to stay present with the experience and sensations.
Ekhart Yoga’s Yin Teachers (especially Jose and Esther) provide gentle reminders in the 3-5 minute stretches to return to the breath, come back to the moment. They always reel me back in when I start to wander.
Perks of Reaching Deep:
What are the perks of reaching deep tissues? Physical openness, yes–and its energetic counterparts.
Stress, emotional experiences, traumas, limited beliefs… aspects of our lives that were scarring, difficult to process— or evenly slowly conditioned in us have often left their imprints in our physical bodies.
Yoga opens the body—with Yin reaching some of the deepest places . Opening the body can allow “residue” of these experiences to release. What we do physically also impacts our subtleties—our energy, our emotions.
There’s an incredible freedom in what can be found in continued Yin practice—the release and lightness of shedding burdens you may not know you are carrying.
Hip Openers have been especially transformative for me. In fact, you can count on a coming article (Ode to Hip Openers) on just that.
My focus the last 4 years has been very directed at healing—I can say that Yoga (both Yin and other styles) has been equal only to journaling in the degree in which it has opened me to heal.
Advantages of Yin At Home…
Yin might be the Yoga I’m most grateful to have access to from my home. Its nature is to open and release—and in newly found space, there can be a sense of vulnerability.
Of course, there’s no needed shame in this—but it is our nature to be more comfortable allowing this vulnerability in the safety of our own space, especially as we are starting out.
The nature of yin, and its ability to release stuck emotions with our stress, can come with a feeling of vulnerability—perhaps tears. At home, the apt to be self-conscious is non-existent. I absolutely believe I am able to release further in my home.
No Time Constraints
Ekhart Yoga always has a pause button; real life doesn’t. If a particular pose feels very therapeutic, I can remain in it until I feel more complete, and continue at my own pace.
I typically do Yin class late in my evening—beyond when a studio would be an option. Because I can take the class on my schedule, I can begin when I am winding down and am ready to be in a “Yin state of mind”.
The next article in this series: Releasing on the Mat, is coming soon.