Fall has become one of my favourite seasons in the last few years, particularly when I started to delve deeper into my yin yoga practice. The shorter days, cooler weather, changing colours – all are signals for us to say farewell to summer (a hot, “yang” season) and to prepare for winter (a cold, “yin” season.)
Yin and yang are from Chinese philosophy, where opposite forces are interconnected and counterbalancing. Examples of yang are fast, hard, moving, and curvy. Examples of yin are slow, soft, still, and straight. These relational terms work with and cannot exist without the other, and having qualities of both create harmony for lasting health. Too much of one thing is not always a good thing, so moderation and finding a centre between the two extremes is the key to a Yin Yoga practice.
Yin Yoga is a modern style that sprung from the need to balance the pace of modern society. The flurry of activity, never-ending to-do lists, repetitive movements, intense workouts – these can lead to burn-out, stress, injury and pain. However, we can counter this lifestyle with meditation, static postures, breathwork, and mindfulness – yin activities that can temper our active bodies and minds.
Yin has been affectionately referred to as “Goldilocks Yoga”. The aim of a practice is to use props to find a comfortable edge (or stretch) that you can hold for an extended time; this allows the connective tissues, or fascia, of the body to release. If a hatha or flow class is about constant movement, then a yin class is about staying still to connect with the breath and get into a pose. Although it sounds very passive and simple, it is different from a Restorative Yoga practice because we are still searching for stretch and not coming into conscious relaxation. Finding the middle ground can be both challenging and rewarding: many of us have trouble staying still and tuning in to an involuntary function in our bodies. We are either too busy or too tired, pulled into one end of the spectrum because we have not found that zone for ourselves that’s “just right”.
If you’re interested in incorporating yin yoga tools into your everyday life, join me for a yoga workshop on October 29th where I’ll be explaining the concepts of yin and guiding you through a practice that will help with transitioning with the changing season. I hope to see you on the mat and look forward to sharing this amazing practice with you!