I remember when I first started doing yoga at my gym. I was one of those 5 days per week, heavy lifting, interval sprinting, plyometric loving gym girls who felt like any exercise that didn’t make me soaking wet with sweat and exertion and leave me in complete exhaustion was completely NOT worth it. 

If I had only one hour to spend, I was sure as all heck not going to spend it on a mat in a quiet room doing “stretches”. Ahem… I shudder now in embarrassment at what a total idiot I was!

Because here’s what happened… I got older. I got more stressed. I got cancer. Twice. I had to go through horrible treatment protocols. Twice. I kept lifting. I was more tired. I got autoimmune diseases after cancer treatments. My job had me working late at night. I was more tired. I was more sore. I wasn’t sleeping well. I was finding I didn’t love my weight workouts as much as I used to. I couldn’t recover as fast. My doctors put me on steroids and thyroid hormone for autoimmune diseases. My life was more busy. Oh, and did I mention I got older?!!

Look, you don’t have to have any of the stuff I just mentioned above (in fact I really hope you don’t EVER have some of that happen to you!) to benefit from yoga.

And you want to know the funny thing? The yoga style that I have fallen in love with? The one I love the most of all? Yup, it’s Yin Yoga. The S-L-O-W-E-S-T one there is. Keep reading to find out why YOU should try Yin Yoga too.

What is Yin Yoga?

As I stated above, Yin Yoga is the slowest one there is… it is the tortoise to the hare of the fast-flowing hot yoga class. As Yoga Download explains on their uber popular and super awesome yoga class website, Yin Yoga is:

Suitable for almost all levels of students, Yin Yoga is a perfect complement to the dynamic and muscular (yang) styles of yoga that emphasize internal heat, and the lengthening and contracting of our muscles. Yin Yoga generally targets the connective tissues of the hips, pelvis, and lower spine.

Hope Zvara of MindBodyGreen and Esther Eckhart of Eckhart Yoga both discuss benefits of Yin Yoga, including that this style of yoga:

  • targets the deep connective tissues and fascia
  • allows for a passive hold, often for as long as 3-5 minutes per posture
  • takes place mostly on the floor and not in standing postures
  • mimics an almost meditative like state of allowing the mind to quiet in each posture
  • accesses deeper thoughts, emotions and feelings than those that would typically be present in faster paced class
  • decreases stress and allows for a sense of calm, a feeling of reset
  • improves circulation and flexibility (hey #gymgirl – this can actually HELP your lifting!)
  • balances the internal organs and improves the flow of chi or prana in your body

Well that all sounds like good things, right? Ready to get on your mat now? Just wait, there’s more…Eckhart describes it this way:

“We live in a world where we are bombarded with stimuli, stimuli that is available 24/7. It’s so easy to end up not switching off at all – to end up with a mind that is constantly busy processing all the information that’s thrown at it. Whether the information is good, valuable or rubbish, it doesn’t matter, the mind still needs to deal with it. The mind gets used to that amount of information and starts to crave stimuli if it becomes quiet. So, we end up browsing, looking for stuff; it doesn’t matter what, as long as we fill the gaps. Gaps we really should allow to stay empty to find some sort of downtime – for the mind to stop and for you to just be.”

I have to repeat that last sentence one more time: “Gaps we really should allow to stay empty to find some sort of downtime – for the mind to stop and for you to just be.”

Wow, so true. Raise your hand if you are guilty of any of the following:

  1.  Constantly processing mind
  2.  Inability to deal with quiet and stillness
  3.  Browsing for rubbish to “fill the gaps”

Um…yes. I am 100% guilty on all 3 charges. But, I am working on it! Yin Yoga and morning meditation has helped me to feel

  • More relaxed and at ease
  • Improved clarity and focus on my day, my life, my goals
  • Less sore from my weightlifting workouts
  • Improved flexibility in my hips and spine
  • Greater sense of balance with my body and energy

In addition, as a person who isn’t getting any younger, I had to laugh out loud when I was researching Yin Yoga and read what Zvara states,

“As one ages, flexibility in the joints decreases and Yin Yoga is a wonderful way to maintain that flexibility, something that for many don’t seem to be too concerned about until they notice it is gone.”

Oh my goodness, it is so true my friends. So very true. That juicy, happy, collagen-packed body of your youth may be slowly receding to the past, but you can feel every bit as strong, healthy and happy as you did when you were younger.

The key is to recognize that you need yoga in your life (everyone should be saying yes right now) and setting aside a time to practice it. If you don’t have a gym or yoga studio that you like to attend for classes, then check out Yoga Download (no they are not paying me to say or write this, I just really love them!) They have a wide variety of classes and memberships to choose from so that you may practice yoga anywhere or anytime that you want. My favorite teacher on Yoga Download is Elise Fabricant, just hearing her voice starts to take my stress level down a notch!

Now granted, I’m not going to lie to you about this. Just like in meditation, there are days I flop the mat down and get totally freaking antsy, like immediately, and feel like there are about 100 things I need to be doing other than sitting on my mat in child’s pose.

But when I start to wander, I force my brain to go into what I call “Numb Mode” Oh yes, Numb Mode. It does not allow thoughts, only a sense of stillness between the ears. Calm. Now add in the breath. Breathe. Settle. Relax.

Aya Inspired Takeaway:

Here’s you now (pick one or multiple): you are stressed, tired, sore, sleeping poorly, unflexible, worried, unmotivated, not recovering well from workouts or just feeling OLD.

Here’s how you currently feel about yoga (pick one or multiple): yoga is boring, takes too long, doesn’t help, doesn’t feel like a workout, isn’t accessible to me, is only for health nut people, is only for flexible people or seems like a waste of time.

Here’s what you NEED to know (you must pick all!): The lists can wait. You can hold the pose. Your sore hamstring (quad, glute, etc.) won’t be screaming much longer. The text can be returned later. The time spent here will be meaningful. Your back will feel less tight. You can even do this in sweatpants. Your stress may melt away. Your mind WILL feel calmer. You got this. You deserve this, yes you. You deserve to sit, breathe, stretch, relax and just BE. Now go do some Yin Yoga.

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