Yin Yoga: A Yoga Practice Every Athlete Should Adopt

Sore muscles, injuries, over-extension of the body…if you’re an athlete then you’re no stranger to these. From running track to weight lifting, chances are you’ve experienced some type of injury or strain throughout your life. Injuries may be inevitable at one point or another, but what if I told you there is a practice even the most trained of athletes could adopt to prolong and minimize injury?

Enter Yin Yoga. A gentle, yet challenging, yoga practice that allows you to drop into your own body, listen, and be present with anything and everything that comes up, both physically and mentally. Yin is a seated, grounding practice, within which poses are held for 3-5 minutes in order to bring mobility to the joints and ligaments. By practicing this style of yoga, athletes are able to work deeper into the muscles to transform the way the body moves.

In most classes you see in Western yoga, students are working with their yang muscles, or powermuscles, which can be similar to an athlete’s normal routine. When practicing yin yoga, students are asked to relax into postures, taking on a more passive approach to working through deep connective tissue and fascia in the body. Fascia, oh, juicy fascia, connects every part of our body together and by caring for your fascia, you are maximizing athletic performance and muscle flexibility.

Yin Yoga offers athletes a chance to find stillness in the mind and body. Given that poses are being held much longer than a yang-style yoga class, a student will notice everything under the sun come up in their mind and body. From sensation in the hips to thoughts about past experiences, yin allows these physical and mental emotions to rise and be released through the power of passive movement. When intimately working with the body by breaking through connective tissue, students will find themselves breaking through old emotional patterns and coming out of class stronger. Not only in the body, but in the mind as well.

Yin can be practiced at home or in a formal class setting, although it is recommended to start in a class where a teacher can hold space for your body and all that arises. We offer Yin every friday night at North Lakes, at 6:30pm, and every Sunday at Nundah, 6pm.

The art of letting go

It is human nature to become attached to things or people.  And it can be very difficult to find out how to let go from these attachments even if we know that they are not good for us. The Buddha even went so far as saying that our addictive behaviour is the root of all suffering.

But why is it so difficult to let go? Why is it so hard to give up a bad habit or an ex-lover? The truth is that most of us suffer from a feeling of inner emptiness that we are trying to fill up with our various attachments – often without much success. One person may eat too much, another may cling to an unloving partner while a third may get addicted to social media. But none of this can fill our inner emptiness.

How can we learn to let go?

The first step to letting go is to take a good, hard look at the things and people that we are so attached to. Do they really fill that nagging sense of inner emptiness? Is our ex-lover really this wonderful person that we make them out to be?

It is amazing how much we can deceive ourselves, believing that things and people will bring us happiness when, in reality, it was never the case. In other words, we need to burst the fantasy bubble that we have built around our addictive clinging and then we need to make a decision to give it up.

Face the emptiness

The next step is to face the emptiness that will appear once we try to give up a bad habit or a person who does not want to be with us. Doing this needs courage but I will now tell you a technique that will make this step easier. When temptation strikes we simply sit down comfortably and relax our whole body and mind. You will notice that the sense of craving is like a contraction in your mind that you can relax and release with every out-breath.

Wrap yourself in love

Then we envelop ourselves with love like a loving mother would cradle an unsettled child. In that way, we give ourselves the very thing that we have wrongly expected from our addictive habits. Only love can fill our inner emptiness and we can get this love directly from ourselves. And once we feel this inner fulfillment it will be much easier to let go and invite healthier habits and people into our life.

A bubble of love

Once we are filled up with love, we envelop the object or person of our temptation with a bubble of love as well and let this bubble slowly drift away until it gradually disappears into the distance. If this is difficult, we simply remember vividly all the negative consequences that will happen if we carry on clinging.

What are the takeaway keys?

The essence of the art of letting go is truthfulness, relaxation and love.

 

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