As we approach the cold winter months and find ourselves in chilly weather, it might be a good time to shake up your workout routine. Self-care and making time for yourself and your well-being is an important and essential part of any daily routine and healthy lifestyle all year round.
Do you sometimes feel stiff from sitting in front of a computer screen all day? Is your mind racing as you mentally check all of the things on your “to-do” list? Incorporating Yin Yoga into your daily schedule might just be the thing you need, not only to improve your flexibility and overall fitness levels, but also to calm your mind and ease your mental and physical stress. By following a sequence of different poses, this type of practice can help you increase flexibility, improve your mood, decrease stress, as well as set you up for a great day ahead.
You may have heard of various types of yoga — there’s no shortage to choose from, including hatha, hot yoga, or vinyasa (to name a few!). Whether you’re looking to expand your current yoga practice or you’re completely new and starting on your fitness journey, Yin is a great option as it’s suitable for all levels and can be modified based on individual abilities.
What sets Yin apart is that it is done at a slower pace where positions are held for longer durations of time during the session. By doing so, the emphasis is not only on the physical elements, such as fascia and connective tissues within the body, but also on the connection between the mind and body, which assists with overall relaxation and anxiety reduction. This allows for further meditative aspects in addition to physical benefits.
When practicing Yin, you will follow a sequence of different specific poses. During each movement, situate yourself into the designated pose. Make sure to listen to your own body and its limitations, such as how deep into the stretch is feasible for you. Focus on your breathing, and try your best to maintain stillness while holding the specific position. Aim to hold the pose for five minutes or more (you may have to adjust and adapt if you’re brand new to it), but aiming for a duration of at least three minutes is beneficial, before moving onto the next pose.
There are a few elements that can help create habits that incorporate Yin Yoga into your daily routine:
One of the great aspects of yoga is that you don’t need much space, just enough room for a yoga mat and a few simple props if desired, such as a yoga block. On busy days, turn your living room into a workout studio. When you have a bit more time or want to have the benefits of a group exercise class, check out local studios for their listing of Yin options.
Short on time? No problem! You may not be able to get through as many poses as a longer routine based on the length of holding each pose, but by focusing on a few key poses (with the help of gravity and breathwork), you can start to establish clear goals, and work towards creating a daily option to find relaxation in an otherwise potentially hectic and busy day.
Try to structure a daily dedicated time (similar to going to a medical appointment or a meeting) and start with only a few poses and build up from there. Your stress levels will thank you for it! Remind yourself that there are always ways to improve — aim for progress over perfection.
Though there are a wide variety of Yin positions, a few to start incorporating daily could include:
Child’s Pose: Kneel on your mat with your knees a little wider than your hips, push your hips back towards your heels, and extend your arms out in front of you, resting arms and forehead on the mat.
Swan: Position yourself on your hands and knees. Place your left knee towards your left wrist. Move your right leg into an extended position flat behind you. Repeat on the opposite side.
Butterfly: In a sitting position, place the soles of your feet together and move forward to create a diamond shape with your legs as your knees fall to the side.
A daily commitment will not only help your physical health, but your mental health too!
Stephanie Hawkins | Contributing Writer