By Dr. Helaine Sheias, E-RYT500
Yin Yoga can be seen as a methodological approach to the restoration of the fullest potential of ourselves as human beings. Our Yin practice is a journey of self-discovery, a systematic pathway to an awakened sense of aliveness. With a focus on health and well being, we yearn to reach a space of ease and lightness in our bodies, which originates from a place of flexibility, agility and suppleness of the joints. Moving through a sequence of Yin Yoga postures is an invitation to gently stretch and mindfully rehabilitate the connective tissue that surround the joints in our body. Because the connective tissues in our bodies are constantly adapting to the stresses put upon them by our day to day activities and lifestyle, Yin Yoga can be seen as a complimentary practice to the more intensive workouts and exercise that we may be doing.
In creating a Yin Yoga practice we incorporate the following four principles:
- Introduce Forward Bends – whether we are standing or seated, we are engaging our body in a forward bend in a way in which we are able to bring our head level with our heart level thus making it easier to pump blood to the brain. In doing so, the heart muscle relaxes and there is an overall sense of reduction of blood pressure. The flow of prana -the life force energy from the Universe (chi in Chinese Medicine) flows in harmony with our breath in forward folds, thus cultivating a sense of calmness and tranquility within.
- Backbends and Flexing of the Spine are not considered Yin poses, because they tend to stimulate the nerves and invigorate the body. With that said, Yin Yoga focuses on the cultivation of a strong core to help with a healthy and erect spine, which helps improve our overall physical posture. Therefore in a typical Yin class we may include a few gentle backbends to help us let go of some of the slouching spine habits that we tend to accumulate over long periods of sitting in front of a computer screen or driving.
- The Time of Day and the Season we are practicing in is of crucial significance to the way in which our Yin practice impacts our well being. Yin tends to be more cooling and calming, allowing us to unwind after a long day of work. The heat of the summer season that may aggravate the internal rhythm of our bodies can benefit from a soothing yin practice.
- The benefits of a Yin Yoga practice evolve gradually over time. It is therefore important to be consistent with your practice, dedicating a designated time slot each week in our busy schedules. We tend to return time and time again to Yin postures that we are familiar with, in order to use our breath to go deeper into the pose. Each posture is accompanied by deep long and full inhalations and exhalations that allow us to fully enter, hold and exit the postures.
Yin Yoga is about the authenticity of one’s self, it is a call to be present, to be genuine, to fully experience the moment. Look for Yin Yoga classes offered throughout our Active Sports Clubs network, and join me in class at Active Sports Clubs Petaluma!
About Dr. Helaine Sheias, E-RYT 500
Helaine is a Kripalu inspired Hatha Yoga teacher registered with Yoga Alliance (E-RYT500). She holds a doctoral degree in Human Sciences and is a graduate of the Socially Engaged Spirituality program at Saybrook Graduate Institute. Helaine is the originator of Eco-Yoga Healing, an earth-based spiritual approach to health and well-being, in which she incorporates Yin Yoga as an essential part of her yoga healing. The Yin approach works to promote flexibility in areas often perceived as non-malleable, especially the hips, pelvis, shoulders and neck, and lower spine. Helaine’s classes are an invitation to explore and discover the essence of health and well-being in a creative, playful and safe environment.
Join her in class, and check out a full scope of class offerings throughout the Active Sports Clubs network here. Enjoy your first workout us on! Click here for your 3-day guest pass and to get started.