At Sound Method, Yin is popular. We try to offer it everyday in fact. People who love Yin, really love Yin. There are many benefits over the long term; greater flexibility, healthier joints, a deeper understanding of your body maybe resulting in better proprioception. That last one is especially important as we age by the way. You will reap greater and greater rewards over the course of weeks and years doing a Yin practice. But what about today, like, right now? Yep, though Yin is about patience and abiding, its effects can be felt right away. Here are just 3 reasons why you should get to class today.
Or your hip or neck or that one place that you have that nags and aggrieves you daily. No it’s not a miracle, and it’s not permanent. However, if your pain is caused by muscle tension or spasm, the long mild duration of Yin poses is like a balm on those sore places. It’s not magic, it’s science. Without getting too complicated I’ll say that the structures in your myofascial complex that hold on and tell your muscles to tighten over and over (in the case of spasm) are pretty tenacious. That vicious cycle is a very special kind of hell, and then the pain and tightness spreads… That’s because the tissues that surround the spasming or tight area can become starved for nutrients, since the circulation may be compromised due to the tightness. The good news is that the structure that tells the muscle to let go or chill out is gently (gently) coaxed during a Yin pose. The specialized structures in the complex that signal a letting go reaction will have to fight for supremacy in any yoga pose. The reason Yin is the bomb? The letting go structures are like the long distance runner, not quick but they will hold on for longer. A Yin pose, when held with mild intensity over a duration of a few minutes may give the letting go structures a chance to win. Nourishment in the form of better circulation can return to the area, or at least some of it. The cycle of tightness can begin it’s reversal, finally. This feels like sweet relief. At least that’s what countless post yin noodle people tell us after class.
In our culture, we’ve really forgotten how to slow down. Busy is a new status symbol. It seems that we are either running ragged or at a dead stop. We tend to use addictive substances to slow us down like alcohol, food and blue screens. To sit in one’s own singular company has become an undesirable experience. Over the years of teaching Yin I have learned that an advanced Yin practice looks like soft stillness. A little like sleeping in a Yin pose. It doesn’t feel like that though. It may look composed and sweet but it’s really like a very exciting and intense journey deep into your body. Into sensations and thoughts you have never encountered and new experiences with the familiar. Though you spend all of your time being still in Yin it’s not boring, if you are bored you aren’t paying attention. Sometimes poses can feel pretty intense but most of the time, it feels so. Damn. Good. Lovely stretches, the instructors melodious voice, soothing music and the calm and gentle presence of your fellow classmates all culminate in a nice clean buzz. Even novice students stagger from the studio so blissed out that we wonder if we should take their car keys. All of this is accomplished through mindful stillness, so good.
Well not literally but hear me out. When we practice Yin poses we intentionally “stress” areas of the body. Often this feels amazing, sometimes, not so much. The key to Yin is maintaining inner and outer composure even when things get harrowing. That does NOT mean that you should grin and bear it, rather, find your appropriate level of sensation and sit back and watch, with objectivity. In Yin we learn not to react. At first we feel just a glimmer or inkling of the peace that occurs in the absence of reaction. That’s the gateway to a much deeper experience; the hard earned skill of staying in the moment and not spinning up stories about our experience, rather just experience. When you get back to work after Yin and your co-worker throws you under the bus for the hundredth time, or you get home and the kids are just polishing off espresso ice cream right before bedtime … you will feel a reaction coming and instead you will create space. Create it! You will take a deep breath. You’ve been here already in your Yin class, in the hottest part of the fire, and you practiced not reacting but instead choosing peace. Most of the time we still react, if not outwardly than inwardly. But that moment of consideration before reacting begins is the slightest glimmer of light, of space. Each time we practice Yin we practice not reacting and we become more skillful.
These are just three reasons you should make time for a Yin class today. If you are new to Yin, know that it’s awesome for students of all levels. From the super tight to the hard core power yogi. Yin meets you where you are in a way, I think, that no other style of yoga can. You can practice it any time of day and even if you are feeling tired or tight or grumpy.
Are you in the Yin-crowd? Please share this post with your top 3 benefits!
Mandy Ryle is Omaha’s most experienced Yin Instructor. She is also the owner and Director of Teacher Training at Sound Method. Her Fall Yintensive is coming up. A celebration of all things Yin, this November weekend features classes for students of Yin and a Yin Teacher Training for Yoga Teachers and Yin aficionados. Learn more here.