It sounds simple - the things you do the most shape the body and the things you think the most shape the brain. But it's not always so simple and this is where the practice of Yin Yoga comes in.
A Yin practice an effective vehicle for transformation because it requires self awareness and a willingness to delve deep into the patterns of the body, brain, fascia, and thought patterns.
So what is Yin Yoga? Generally speaking, Yin Yoga is a meditative approach with a physical focus on the connective tissues and fascia in the hips, pelvis and spine. In a Yin practice poses are held longer (minimum of 3-5 minutes) than a yang practice. Yin is unique in that students are asked to soften and relax in the shapes.
The practice of Yin Yoga can be considered a type of cognitive therapy that enables us to become more aware of our thought patterns and routine body preferences. Physically, a Yin practice works to create more space in the hips, pelvis and spine and prepares the body to physically sit comfortably in a seated meditation. The hidden gem of Yin when practiced consistently is the shift from the physical to a deeper state of contentment through meditation.
Recent research has shown profound connections between more traditional/ancient forms of yoga and its effect on the nervous system. In a Yin practice, I use a triangular approach to illuminate and heal:
When one of these is off, the others are off. When we heal one, the others heal. It is all connected. So much of what I focus on as a teacher is to use Yin as a means to stabilize these three things. I like the mantra: We use the body to heal the body.
You can transform your physical, emotional and mental well being with yoga and a Yin practice can provide the tools to deepen this transformation.
I teach Yin Thursday evenings at 7:30pm at Namaste on Williams as well as at other yoga studios around Portland, OR. Also, check out my Podcast Beautiful Genius for more on yoga, neuroscience, and psychology.
Sarasvati Hewitt grew up as a dancer and began studying anatomy at 16. She has been teaching yoga for 13 years and has studied Interpersonal Neurobiology at Portland State University. She teaches workshops and specializes in Yin yoga for anxiety, depression, eating disorders, insomnia, addiction and trauma. She has a podcast called Beautiful Genius about yoga, neuroscience and psychology.