Yin Yoga and Quieting the Mind
How Yin Yoga can help us slow down and find a deep quiet within ourselves.
by Lee Ann Maynard
“If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves…”
–From the poem “Keeping Quiet” by Pablo Neruda
We have plans, we have lists and we have places to go and appointments to keep. This pace of living in the fast lane keeps us out of rhythm with ourselves and nature. As a result we feel exhausted and contracted. Stiffness sets into our neck, hips and back. We are always leaning forward, moving to the next thing.
Yin Yoga is an Embodied Meditation. We meet the body and mind as it is, without trying to change anything, and we settle into each pose with a sense of curiosity and openness. There is no ‘perfect alignment” and no striving for a particular shape in each pose. We don’t even get off the floor. Instead we meet ourselves close to the earth and begin surrendering to gravity. Each pose is held for 2-5 minutes, never striving but settling into it. The names of the poses are different than the well known “yang” yoga poses. Instead, most pose names seem plucked out of nature, like “Sleeping Swan”, “Crocodile”, “Butterfly”, “Dragonfly”, which encourage us to come to them from a different attitude. Helping us to let go of the striving nature of other yoga formats.
Yin Yoga works on the connective tissues rather than focusing on stretching or strengthening muscles. It focuses on “disengaging” the muscles so that ligaments, tendons and fascia can open up and become more hydrated and elastic. Working deep into the joints, this practice helps us to feel a greater sense of flexibility in the hips, spine, knees, shoulders and neck. This greater sense of flexibility and ease and can translate to a more open and flexible mind state. A sense of relaxation and letting go seems attainable when the body has released tension.
Yin Yoga as an Embodied Meditation also strengthens a mindfulness practice using the sensations of the body and the breath to become aware of where we hold onto tension. Our nervous systems have been trained by our habitual movement and emotional mind states. Our bodies begin to feel locked up and we can feel that we have lost range of motion in joints and our sense of flexibility. Coming into each Yin Yoga pose we sense these constrictions in the mind and the body and begin the process of caring for ourselves. We give ourselves time. We watch how the breath affects the body in these shapes and slowly, in the quiet of the practice, we re-train the nervous system to help us relax and be more calm.
Do you feel overwhelmed and tired and contracted? Perhaps you can see in your life where there is a need to slow down and to get more intimate with your body and mind. Maybe you are becoming more aware of how your emotional states are translated into constrictions in your body. Can you find some time in your planned out life to find a Yin Yoga class and learn how to do nothing, which is really a doorway to seeing everything?
by Helen Luke
We hurry through the so-called boring things
in order to attend to that which we deem
more important, interesting.
Perhaps the final freedom will be a recognition that
everything in every moment is “essential”
and that nothing at all is “important”.
Yin Yoga with Lee Ann Maynard, E-RYT 500
6:45 – 8:00 pm
The Yoga Center-Reno
multiple class packages available
No yoga experience is necessary.
Read more about Lee Ann Maynard.