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July 19, 2016

By Luminary Ashley Holly McEachern

Do you ever feel like you are starting to spin out of control? Possessed by seemingly endless to-do lists, responsibilities and chores. Has busy become your norm because we live in the fast lane and are blinded by more stimulation than we have ever seen before.

Downtown condo dwellers may go months without being in absolute darkness or seeing the stars in their full glory. Working families struggle to balance the pressures of a 24/7 connection to jobs and technology with their beloved screaming kids. Single scenesters stay up late in bed rummaging through tinder profiles in search of ‘the one’.

We have transformed the way we live and it's not surprising that increased levels of anxiety, stress and stimulation are keeping us on edge all day and awake all night. That’s why it’s time to shake things up with a new approach to yoga, beginning with a little bit of mindfulness, a whole lot of stillness and loads of self-loving. I recently joined with Saje Yoga and Y-YOGA to offer a weekly yin yoga with aromatherapy class to my yoga students that is a powerful practice to help us all relax, rejuvenate and reconnect to our true selves.

What is Yin Yoga?

Yin Yoga, is a quiet yoga practice with long held poses structured to access your connective tissues, while healing both your physical and energetic body. The tissues accessed by yin yoga are responsible for 47% of your body's limited range of motion. By holding specific yoga asanas (poses) for 3-20 minutes, can create ample space to allow rest and relaxation into our lives; while offering fascinating new depths of flexibility and quiet peaceful thoughts into our busy bee brains. Just ten years ago, there was only one yin yoga class in London, England, now there are over fifty each week!

In addition to the physical benefits of yin yoga, there are a myriad of psycho-emotional advantages to this practice. Drawn from the lineage of traditional chinese medicine, yin yoga stimulates the movement of chi through twelve distinct meridian lines where we harbour many of our deepest emotions. Through extended holds, we create ample space for our bodies to energetically release these emotions and create a sense of clarity, calm and truth.

What are your yin tissues?

"Fascia is the biological fabric that holds us together" - Thomas Myers.

Connective Tissues, can be best understood as the glue that holds our entire body together into one whole vessel. Yin yoga engages our connective tissues and our supporting connective tissues including fascia, ligaments, tendons, joints, bones, blood and lymph nodes. Fascia (or bandage in Latin) makes up 30% of any skeletal muscle group, binds the muscles together and lubricates surfaces that need to slide along each other.  As we age, our bones weaken, our fascia contracts and our range of motion is limited. Yin yoga is a means of healing our tissues and keeping us flexible.

What are the benefits of Yin Yoga?

  1. Calm and balanced mind and body.
  2. Increased functional mobility of the yin tissues, which occupies 1/2 of our whole bodies functional mobility.
  3. Increased flexibility, range of motion, and durability of the joint.
  4. Reduced stress and anxiety.
  5. Deep rest and relaxation through mindful living.
  6. Preserves moisture of tissues.
  7. Increased circulation.
  8. Helps us to keep doing the things we are inevitably going to do for longer.
  9. Stimulates flow of qi (energy) to our organs, based on Daoist Traditional Chinese Medicine.
  10. Freedom from deep and long held emotional and physical restrictions.

How Is Yin Yoga Unique?

  1. Finding Stillness: Your yin tissues are accessed in times of stillness - by relaxing your muscles and sinking into a space of non-rigid stillness. However, if you feel pain or sharpness or 'pins and needles' allow moments of gentle movement and readjustment to uncover a place of safe stillness.
  2. Find your edge: Your edge is your sweet spot, where sensation meets intensity, meets deep feeling. This is not a place of strain or pain. We wander to our edge in yin yoga in order to encourage energetic flow and healing.
  3. Time : Yin poses are held anywhere from 1-20 minutes. Yin tissues are more plastic than elastic and require time to expand. Our first few lessons will include shorter holds before we move into longer held poses in the final sessions.

My yoga students are continually praising the quiet space created in yin yoga. From resolving the pains of arthritis to dissolving the darkness of depression, yin yoga is a powerful tool to add to our repertoire of healing modalities. It has taught me how to listen to my body, how to slow down in my everyday life and how to foster powerful and positive relationships with the people around me. Alas, as with all of our yoga practices, to truly understand the full potential of yin yoga, you have to experience it.



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