There are many ways to practice yin, there is no absolute one way. These are ways/concepts that are helpful for me and I hope assist you as well.
When to practice:
Anatomically we are targeting deeper connective tissue. Some practitioners believe early in the day is ideal, as your muscle are cool, I personally prefer after a light/or vigorous asana or at the end of my day to help wind down for sleep.
Playing with your edge:
When you enter a yin pose it is ideal to go to a depth where you begin to feel sensation or resistance in the body. Don't go as deeply as you can immediately, rather ease in. After 30 second to a minute you can go deeper after you give your body time to acclimate. The body gently opens and invites you deeper into the pose when supported in this way. Drop your expectation on how the pose should look, it's really about how it feels. Use as many props as helps your body to feel comfortable with the uncomfortable. We encourage muscle to melt away from bone allowing time and gravity to evolve the pose rather than effort. If you are hyper mobile you can play with subtle muscle engagement to protect your joints and ideally only go to 30-40 % of your end range.
Sensations we are looking for:
Stretching, squeezing, elongation, twisting or dull ache. We are very mindful to not have: Pain, sharp, burning, electric shooting, numbness or tingling. Those are signs to find an alternative variation, use more props or to take rest instead.
Resolve to be still.
Once you find an appropriate edge, it's time to settle into the pose without moving. Stillness in the body means the muscle aren't activated and the therapeutic stress can go to the yin tissues appropriately. Stillness in the breath can be very different from one practitioner to the next. Some prefer to have a longer exhale for the first few posture to help settle into the practice (option to use counting eg. inhale to 4 exhale to 5), while other enjoy a light ujjayi breath or a completely unforced breath. Stillness in the mind is greatly helped by calming our breathing. Keeping our body still can help calm the breath so these 3 elements are closely linked.
Hold for a time:
For some practitioners 1 min holds are ideal while others prefer 3 min , 5 min or up to 20 min postures. It is the slow gentle traction over a longer period of time that benefits yin tissues.
Everybody is unique and so are their tissues. The appropriate stress comes down to the tolerance level of that tissue. We stress tissue then rest to allow it to recover. Many practitioners find its not depth of the posture but rather the longer holding time that offer the most benefit.
Starting your practice by reminding yourself of why can be helpful. For some it is to enhance their health and well-being, to assist aging more gracefully, to slow down or to feel more connected with your body the reasons are numerous.
Meditation or mindful focus:
Set the foundations for equanimity. Noticing how the body is without judgement.
Either sitting or laying down notice the room around you, the sounds, the scents, the temperature.
Focus on the quality and depth the breath without changing it initially.
Allow your awareness to settle into the lower belly, observe sensations here. Start to deepen the breath having a longer exhale then inhale and notice how this changes this area of the body,
Move the focus to the level of the heart and check in with the state of emotions.
Shift the awareness to the point between the eyes, observe thoughts that arise. Without trying to stop them simply watch them come and go.
If the mind is active it is helpful to give it a task like focusing on the lower belly and longer exhale then inhale for the first few postures before allowing the breath to be natural and broadening the focus to sensation found in the body, thoughts as they arise and their changing nature.
Wishing you lovely yin practises.
After months of mask wearing I was developing acne around my jawline. As a health care practitioner I wear disposable masks during my work day and it has been so refreshing to have this gentle silk mask for my day to day life. The rosemary clarifying toner has made a big difference for my jawline. If you have been experiencing mask acne experiment with the material of your mask and talk to an esthetician or aesthetician about what products can help your individual skin.
A wonderful core flow in season with the spring boost. Check out Mystee's yoga channel on youtube.
Can I practise yin during my pregnancy is a question I have been getting asked lately.
My answer is possibly. It is best to ask your doctor and midwife about activities during pregnancy. Especially if you are hyper-mobile and have pre existing lumbar or SI issues. With my practise as and manual therapist and my yin yoga teacher training there is no black and white answer to this question. Like many things in life what is good for one person could be awful for another. I have had clients who practised yin before becoming pregnant and were able to continue through their pregnancy because their body awareness was very good and they modified postures for their body. I have also received new clients as a result of trying yin for the first time while being pregnant and came out of the class in immense pain. The purpose of Yin yoga physically is to provide healthy stress and compression on connective tissue, fascia, tendons and ligaments. All of which all become more supple during pregnancy. Most of my pregnant clients benefit from strength training rather than flexibility building practises.
There is a lot of adjustment in the realm of physical changes to the body during pregnancy. It's a pretty big event! Here are some elements to consider and be mindful of:
1.) Hormonal changes:
-Relaxin: aids in lengthening the ligaments for the belly, back and hips. It has a pronounced impact our deep tissues, which are the ones we apply pressure to in yin, and can lead to over-stretching the body.
2.) Change in ligaments: particularly the round ligaments of the stomach (we also work on this ligament when our clients are menstuating and are suffering from cramps due to the uterus swelling), ligaments of the back/ hips are stretching more than ever before with the help of growing physical weight and the hormone relaxin.
3.) Sensitivity in the low back and pelvis: shifting hormones, softening of tissue, change in ligaments, additional weight can all contribute to this area enhancing sensitivity.
4.) Crowding: The uterus can grow to the size of a watermelon to accommodate the growing baby which means all the neighbours like stomach, intestines, bladder have to do their best with less room. This is why its best to avoid yin postures that compress or twist the abdomen.
Some important safety guidelines for practising yin while pregnant.
a) The appropriate edge will be very different. Do not go to your end range or availability, it is best to keep yourself safe and go in the 10-30% range to start and experiment with what your body likes.
b) Adjust hold time to 1 -3 min rather then 5 or 10 min. Staying too long in a posture could lead to unhealthy stress or tearing of tissue.
c) Keep pelvis and abdomen neutral: avoid backbends, twists and compression on belly
Avoid long held inversions eg like legs up wall, bridge, standing fold, avoid lying flat on your back, keep your heart above your head.
No two bodies are alike and no two bodies are the same experiencing pregnancy. If you are hyper mobile or have pre existing joint (especially SI) it may be best to try yin after your pregnancy. Pregantal yoga, Yoga nidra, and restorative yoga are all wonderful practices if you are looking for meditative experiences during pregnancy if you are hyper mobile and pilates can be wonderful to build strength. So in short, yin yoga could be great for your body during pregnancy or not. Experiment with alternative poses or modifications that feel good. The yoga practise can help you to observe new sensations and connect not only with yourself but with the life you are growing. Talk to your doctor and health care professionals.
What is yin yoga and why practise it?
Physically the primary tissue we are addressing in yin is connective tissue such as tendons, ligaments, bones and fascia. Connective tissue plays a large roles in our long-term mobility. It benefits from slow gentle traction over a longer period of time. It behaves very differently than muscle tissue. A yang practise involves quick, dynamic, stimulating postures with shorter holds while yin involves slow, static, calming postures with longer holds ranging from 1-10 min. Most yin practises have 3-5 min holds.
Mentally the longer posture and times of stillness are wonderful to cultivate mindfulness and meditate.
Some principles for yin yoga are:
Come to an appropriate depth for your body in the pose. This means you have sensation of gentle stretching but not pain. Low level discomfort is ok but if you are wishing the pose would end soon because you are so uncomfortable you have probably gone to far and could benefit from a lighter variation or more props. No sharp, electric shooting pain. We consciously soften muscles away from bone.
Resolve to stay still. The therapeutic benefit for connective tissue requires passive slow gentle traction. Lengthening tissues is an integral part of what makes our yin yoga practice so impactful. Physically bouncing, quick or unnecessary movement can stress and damage the connective tissue we are working on. Mentally practising any mindfulness techniques that help keep you in the present moment and help to calm overly stimulated minds.
Stay a while. The length of time is a key factor in benefitting connective tissue. Our tissues do have a protective mechanism that helps us stay aware of how much stress is too much, this will present itself by muscles starting to tighten and contract. Sometimes the depth of a pose can be suitable at the beginning but part way through if your muscles starts to contact it is asking to to come out of the posture and find a more appropriate version. The time also allows for a wonderful opportunity to see thoughts rise and change in the mediation practise.
Exit the posture slowly and create new movement or counter movement. Moving quickly increasing the change of damaging tissue as they are not as protected and stable. Incorporating gentle movement or counter movement after the pose encourages blood flow.
Always pay close attention to the signals your body is communicating to you as you practice. It is also best to check with your Doctor if yin yoga is suitable for you.
Price Change 2021:
As of January 1, 2021 sessions with Erin will be $100.
Once Erin defends her thesis in May 2021 her Manual Therapy sessions will be $110
Now that classes & exams are complete I am delighted to take part in more self care practices. Starting with this! I have waited a year to take this course. Thank you Compassion Inspired Health for creating online options during covid times.
If you are curious about Mindful Self Compassion check out:
Thank you for your patience, we apologies for the low availability of sessions with Erin. Now that her classes are complete and she only has her thesis to obtain her Osteopathic Manual Therapist title her availability will improve.
Stay tuned, stay healthy
The Multidimensional Team
Erin has officially completed her 5th year with the The Canadian College of Osteopathy - CCO ! To complete her training she needs to finish her Thesis on Osteopathic effect on General Anxiety Disorder.
Thank you to Marjorie Dg, Kim Mark-Goldsworthy and Lavanya Kalathil for being a wonderful study group.
If you are looking for an Osteopathic Practitioner it is important to know the field is not yet regulated as a profession. This means individuals can use the title after completing a weekend course vs the regular 4-5 year study period. Osteopathy Alberta & Osteopathy BC are good resources for practitioners trained 4 years +. They do not advertise students on their website but you can enquire with them if a student practitioner in your area is a member. Erin is a student member with Osteopathy BC.
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