From Doing to Being

The Benefits of Yin & Restorative Yoga

Every Wednesday evening I hold a ninety minute practice and about once a month I offer a long session of Yin and Restorative Yoga. Today I want to describe a few of the benefits of this deeply nurturing and healing practice. I call yin & restorative yoga an advanced practice as it is a practice of slowing down and being rather than doing – which is a true skill in our fast-paced, overachieving society. An advanced practice, yet accessible to all. 

Most of us are “programmed” to do a lot. Doing a lot gives us a sense of being productive and in control – and without a doubt: getting things done is important. Yet, fueling ourselves with that extra coffee day by day, running on ambition checking our long to-do list – all can be a manner of avoiding unwelcome discomforts and feels. The practice of yin & restorative yoga asks us to slow down and direct our attention from all outside focus and doing towards our inner landscapes and settle in with being just ourselves. Slowing down and not-doing helps us to gain literacy about our inner landscapes while it also helps us to face and befriend what we are avoiding about ourselves. It allows us to explore, learn and take care of the whole of ourselves in ways we are not accustomed to – allowing more space for the whole of who we are.

Befriending the whole of who we are is an essential asset towards healing.

Notably, yin & restorative yoga creates conditions for our relaxation response to kick in. The relaxation response is a neurological response leaving us with the sense of feeling safe which initiates the body’s self-healing processes. This – the embodied sense of safety – is utmost important in a world where most of us are overloaded by tight (work / family) schedules, high expectations (mostly our own), worry, and technological advances that when their use is not moderated hijack our attention – and thus a world where for most of us the fight-or flight response (sympathetic nervous system) is chronically stimulated and periods of real rest are very sparse. Thus, by creating a situation, such as in yin & restorative yoga, where the body understands it is safe, we change from worrying about “staying safe” to activating the parasympathetic nervous system thereby strengthen the longterm health systems, such as immunity, digestion, repair, reproduction and reflection.

Importantly, through using long-held supportive resting poses in yin & restorative yoga and their accompanied embodied sense of support and safety the skill of conscious relaxation is cultivated.

Conscious relaxtion is different to sitting on the couch with our attention on whatever netflix throws at us. Moreover, this practice allows us to discover where we hold unnecessary habitual tension in body and mind while creating space to release it.

Let’s state that again: yin & restorative yoga helps us discover where we hold tension.  The actual effort in this practice is the willingness to look at where and how we are holding tension.  This willingness helps us find room for change, we allow a letting go of all muscular and mental effort (both of which most of us  favor and already overengage most of the time) – thereby we let go of control and plans – and allow to be present, embrace and acknowledge what is (not what has been or could be, but what is) which enables a deep release on various levels of the body. 

​These here are just a few of the benefits of yin & restorative yoga. Those who have been to my workshops know how enthusiastic I can get to explain the effects of certain practices herein on ​ our physiological and mental wellbeing…, the effect it has on fascia, the link to eastern traditions of medicine ,…..  (may be another few chapters soon).

It is always a pleasure to offer and share about this practice, witnessing bodies, faces and self-talk softened much during a session – oftentimes receiving an e-mail a few days later where a participant shares about powerful insights they have gained during such a practice.  

I also appreicate if you leave a comment on how this practice has possibly affected you.
(Posted on 21 February, 2019)


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