Yin is the Practice You Didn't Know You Needed

I wish I could take credit for the title of this post, but I have to give credit its due. I overheard my friend and fellow teacher, Kate, describing Yin to a new student who was curious about the class. Without skipping a beat she said, "Yin is the practice you didn't know you needed". This explanation couldn’t be more fitting and efficient. We all need a little Yin. When we practice Yin yoga, we allow space for the body and mind to rest. Time spent consciously resting has immeasurable and lasting effects. Yin is soft, quiet, and still. It's a reflective practice that goes well beyond muscle, fascia, connective tissue, and bone. While I don't discredit the physical benefits, my true interest lies in the mental and emotional component.

Consider how much of your waking life is spent resting or in stillness. If you’re like me, not much. We live in a society that praises accomplishment. I have a bullet journal that I fill with list after list of things to do. Any spare time, even on a day off, is typically filled with going and doing. I honestly enjoy being busy - it’s only when I’ve overdone it that I realize I’m totally lost and missing the point. When we consciously pause, we create space to set down the baggage and return to a quiet center. I like to refer to that space as home. It’s a space inside us that’s always there, patiently awaiting our return. It’s a place of connectedness and clarity, compassion and deep contentment. Yin yoga is just one of many paths to that space.

Anything practiced regularly creates new patterns. Studies have proven our brain's ability to change at any age. Through practice and repetition, you can transform your perception of stress and shift the way you identify with negative thoughts and emotions. Yin is a relinquishing of the need to control and micromanage, and an invitation for the body and mind to be at rest. When we practice regularly, even if only for a few minutes, new patterns and habits emerge. 

Where and how to practice Yin is up to you. Check local studios to see if they offer any classes. If you live in the Oklahoma City area, catch a class with me! Find my weekly schedule here. If you want to practice at home, you can find a few options right here on my blog. Yoga Glo offers a wide selection of Yin classes and you can narrow your search by duration and/or focus. You don't need to know much about Yin to practice it on your own. A seated forward fold is a great place to begin. Forward bending postures naturally draw us inward. Place a folded blanket under the seat, and with the legs extended or the soles of your feet together, hinge from the hips. Notice where you meet resistance and don't push any further. Instead, soften into it. Allow the spine to round, the chin to fall inward, and the arms to hang off the shoulders. Release any tension in the body, and let your brain rest at the front of your skull. Stay here for a few minutes, breathing, watching, and soaking up the stillness. 

The world is experienced according to the state of one’s mind. When your mind is filled with negative thoughts, the world appears negative, too. When you feel overwhelmed and busy, remember that you are not powerless. When your mind rests, the world also rests.
— Haemin Sunim
shannon stephens