Slow down, take a deep breath, and relax…not as easy as it sounds, I know! I was always caught up in my thoughts, the “what ifs” and “when wills,” and the things I couldn’t seem to move on from, constantly leading me into a spiral of mindless worry and angst. I started practicing yang styles of yoga, vinyasa, hot power, and it helped a lot! When I am in the flow of my yang practice, I feel strong, confident, and focused, but I found that my body felt tight when I wasn’t flowing, and I was more “mind-full” than mindful. Then, I went to a Yin/Restorative yoga class, and a new path appeared in front of me.
Walking into my first Yin/Restorative class was different than expected. It looked like a cozy pajama party with pillows and blankets; the soft lighting and peaceful music in the background added to the pleasing aesthetic. When we started class, the instructor told us to focus on the sound of our breath instead of the “to-do” list and notice any feelings we may experience in the poses. So there I was, in a thick stew of my own, well everything, just breathing. It was hard not to count the minutes at first, but as time passed, I relaxed more into the poses, and my thoughts came less often and didn’t stay as long. By the end of class, I felt lighter, less stiff, and simply happier; I was in love.
In Yin/Restorative yoga, asanas are passive in nature and are practiced mainly on the floor. We encourage the use of supports like blocks, bolsters, and straps, to go deeper into the pose and promote greater relaxation. Each pose is held anywhere from 1-5 minutes to target the body’s deepest layers experiencing tension, stiffness, and general discomfort. Holding passive poses for extended periods allows fascial tissue to stretch, strengthen, improve joint mobility, and create space for muscles to lengthen. This practice helps keep the body healthy by stimulating the flow of stagnant energy that can build and lead to inflammation and disease. It also helps lower blood pressure, improves the function of internal organs, and restores depleted energy.
Yin/Restorative yoga also has positive effects on mental and emotional health. When we “bottle up” a feeling or suppress trauma, emotional energy gets stuck. It manifests physically as tension and stress in the body. This practice provides the time and space to let these emotions surface without identifying with the story behind it (how or why we feel this way). Learning to observe the physical sensations of emotions without attaching to the reason behind them allows that energy to be released and disrupts old emotional thought patterns. Through this process we cultivate more patience, compassion, and acceptance for ourselves. Regular practice can also decrease minor depression and anxiety symptoms, promote better sleep, and reduce chronic stress.
Traditional Yin Yoga methodologies are infused with Restorative practices at All Y’all Yoga to create a unique experience for each student. Yin/Restorative classes are a great introduction to the healing benefits of yoga. This practice calms the nervous system, promotes physical release, mental clarity, and emotional well-being. It is for everyone and everyBODY, novice or expert. If you are new to yoga, this is an excellent place to begin your journey, as it is a gentle, slow-paced practice. Already a yogi? You can bring even greater balance to your life by incorporating this practice a few times a week.