Practicing Yin Yoga to stay present
Using the gifts of yin yoga to stay present through the holiday season… and beyond
One of the most rewarding things we can do in terms of self-care this winter is Yin Yoga. Practicing Yin Yoga to stay present is a great way to reduce stress and get more enjoyment out of the holidays.
“It’s December already? How did that happen?” These are common questions this time of year! Regardless of whether this time of year snuck up on you are not, you’re most likely thinking about the holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus, etc). From there, it’s not a huge leap to start thinking about… presents. Giving presents, receiving presents, wish lists of what presents we want… but what if we put that definition of “present” aside and focus instead on “presence”?
The winter months can be cold and dry, and in the Northern Hemisphere that colder weather is combined with the hectic nature of the holiday season. Fortunately, we have the perfect antidote: Yin Yoga. By its very nature, Yin Yoga can help us stay present and grounded – qualities that we could use more of no matter what time of year it is!
Yin Yoga is a unique style of yoga which focuses on connective tissue and joints rather than muscle. It’s designed to put a reasonable amount of strain on tissues and meridians, in order to clear and lengthen those pathways in the body. How does this help you stay in the present moment? I’m glad you asked! Here are some ways Yin helps you stay present.
More time is spent in each pose.
A typical Yin pose is held from 3 – 5 minutes (sometimes longer, if that’s your thing!). Staying still for a longer period of time sometimes means you need to overcome feelings of impatience. If thoughts arise like, “When will this be over?” or even, “I need to do a load of laundry after this,” just let them come up, notice them, and allow them to leave again. It’s a lot like meditation – your mind will wander, but that’s part of the practice. Practice enjoying the stillness and comfort that can be found in a Yin pose.
More time in a pose means more time to:
Where to start with this one? Yin Yoga allows time for all sorts of amazing things to happen. Here are just a few.
More time to enjoy the physical sensations of each pose.
Time is a luxury when practicing Yin Yoga. Savor each moment in a pose and make it as comfortable as you possibly can, while still feeling the beneficial sensations of the gentle stress placed on your tissues. Use as many props as you want to find comfort, then settle in for the duration and enjoy!
More time to let your breath settle.
When your body is comfortable in a Yin Yoga pose, your breathing pattern will become slower and more relaxed as well. And when we are able to breathe freely and deeply, this in turn has a healing effect on our nervous system, as well as our mind. And it’s all related – the more you settle your body, the more your breath settles, and vice-versa.
More time to let your thoughts settle
If your thoughts wander during a pose, that’s okay, just bring them back to focusing on the physical sensations you’re feeling as often as you can. It’s all part of the “practice.” But when your body and breath settle, your mind isn’t usually that far behind. You’ll find that in time, you’ll experience longer stretches of silence and peacefulness. That is truly the art of being present! Practicing Yin Yoga to stay present is… a present worth giving.
Focusing on your breath and body leaves no room for past or future. Only now.
When we aren’t regretting the past or worrying about the future, we are hanging out in the Now – the present – and that is where freedom lies. You may find that as you practice Yin Yoga on a regular basis, it becomes easier to experience this state of presence and freedom. I don’t know for sure, but I’d bet that if Eckhart Tolle did yoga, he would practice Yin Yoga!
Practicing Yin Yoga to stay present is one of the best gifts you can give yourself, any time of year.
Give yourself the greatest gift of all this coming year. Practicing Yin Yoga to stay present will have benefits you’ll be able to reap long after class is over.
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