“There’s just not enough hours in the day.”
This was my internal dialogue that had been hindering my growth for years. For the longest time I believed that more productivity throughout the day called for 3 cups of coffee and scrambling from one task to the next without stopping for a moment to take a deep breath. If I got around to stepping on my yoga mat, it would be to move and sweat in a vigorous power yoga class. It wasn’t until a teacher and friend of mine introduced me to my first Yin yoga experience that my perspective shifted and I became aware of the energetically-draining lifestyle I was living. It never occurred to me that by carving out space in my day to stop and observe the world around me, I could gain clarity within my inner and outer worlds. This newly discovered practice gave me the crystal clear vision I needed to reconnect to purpose, to move throughout my day with intent, and liberate myself from the creative blockages I had faced in the past.
The word “Yin” is associated with gentle, grounding, nurturing, lunar, dark, and typically feminine energy. Yin yoga is the meditative yoga practice of moving through floor postures, known as asanas, and holding these poses for 5–7 minutes. By using props for support such as blankets, blocks, bolsters, and straps, our bodies can feel fully supported and relaxed. This practice opens the energy channels in the body, targeting the hips, hamstrings, low back, heart, and shoulders, and accesses the deep connective tissues. These shapes, although sedentary, can activate meridian points in the body that helps us move chi (energy, life-force) through our bodies which in turn lowers blood pressure, prevents injury, and improves sleep, digestion, and all over wellness.
The sole purpose of Yin yoga is to slow down and remain present, without the need to control — only to surrender to the present moment and observe the self. Observing the natural pace of breath, sensations in the body, and your own thought patterns, brings you awareness within. As we draw our awareness inward, we begin to explore our most authentic selves. Our challenges begin to surface, and we learn how to greet our personal conflicts with love and compassion. In my own instance, I faced the challenge of sitting with my own thoughts for the first time. The first 60 minutes of class used to consist of my mind chattering about my grocery list or what I needed to get done for work the next day. I realized that this constant mind chatter was not serving me, and took away from my ability to be present in my life. If I cannot show up fully and presently for myself, how can I except myself to show up fully and presently for the ones I love? With practice, we can train our minds to slow down so we can feel and experience each moment peacefully and joyfully.
Since we live in a world where our earth is moving at a rapid rate and change is constant, we often have a tendency to miss the spaces in between. Our bodies are forever changing, and our soul is constantly evolving, and as we embrace stillness we can begin to notice the subtle shifts in our minds, bodies, and spirits. With Yin yoga we can feel love and gratitude for ourselves for showing up in a mindful and caring way.
Rest is not a luxury, rest is a necessity. Yin yoga is my favorite way to slow down, breathe, and surrender to all that is.
Written by Bayley Blackney, Yin Yoga Teacher + Studio Manager