Yin yoga is a stilling practice that cultivates a deep sense of awareness through the release of mind and body stresses. An antidote to urban life, yin focuses on releasing the connective tissue of the body (tendons, ligaments and fascia). Ahead of her ‘yin yoga 2 teacher training’, Sarah Lo shares her approach and tips to getting the most out of your yin practice.
Yin yoga can be a challenging practice when left to our own devices, or even in class when we’re placed in a position which our bodies don’t particularly ‘enjoy’. Fortunately, there are many skills that can be learned to help prepare us better for our yin practice – not so that the experience itself becomes more ‘enjoyable’ but so that we can be better equipped to relate to what comes up during the practice.
Sitting + seeing
The first step is to check in – both to make sure we are practising at the right time and giving our bodies the movements that it needs. This is not just a matter of personal preference but more of a momentary realisation of what our bodies need or are asking for, whether it’s first thing in the morning, that tired time of the afternoon or end of the day. There are no rules and only by giving ourselves an opportunity to feel into what’s being asked for, can we begin to carve out the next move or posture. So, sit and see. Pause a while and sense into what your body is telling you. How is the breath moving for instance?
Freeing the breath
Personally, I am unlikely to want to sit and meditate as soon as I wake up. I know this to be true often, although sometimes I surprise myself. My body feels achy and crumbly and I am more likely to want to curl up and go back to sleep if I sit immediately. A far more insightful approach for me is to wake my body up and ‘free’ my quiet breath, and I need to be a little more alert to do this. I can slowly ‘wake up’ my body when I begin to enter it more fully with my mind and acknowledge what’s really happening.
As I start to move and breathe into the ‘stuck’ areas, it’s like a trance, no yoga show required here. Just me moving me. Moving the parts that want to be moved and staying in a shape until the release feels complete. Moving might be interspersed with a yin shape and then I am prepared to sit a while in stillness where there’s no focus on a target area in the body. Just me sitting with me for a while. I may then know better what to do next because I’ve simply given myself an opportunity to feel into my body in that moment.
What I hope to get across in my yin classes, workshops and teacher trainings is that there’s no one sequence or posture to suit everyone. When we learn how to better feel into the sensation of what our bodies are saying, or simply how to enjoy the releases to their end point, we then begin to make the connections that allow us to carve out the appropriate and effective movement for our body.