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In Pursuit of Optimal Digestive Health

Time To Get Your Yin Yoga On!

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WARM YIN YOGA. Your body wants this and your body NEEDS this!

Being the anatomy and physiology 'nerd' that I am, Yin yoga is a GIFT for the body, mind and soul!

While my exposure to yoga began years ago, at that time, I was mainly attending periodic Ashtanga flow yoga classes...otherwise known as 'Yang' yoga classes.

During a Yang yoga practice, dynamic movement (e.g. sun salutations and inversions) are aimed at building HEAT in the body. Yang yoga is a productive, high-impact and ACTIVE practice, that’s for sure!

Considering the aims of Yang yoga, and the other types of exercise I've enjoyed over the years (e.g. Pilates mat and reformer classes, spin classes, dance/barre classes, Zumba, bike rides, hikes, neighbourhood walks, living room dance parties, etc.), my body craved a type of movement that would OFFSET those means of exercise with deep stretching and lengthening of the muscles...and beyond!

Cue the WARM YIN YOGA!

Yin yoga is a PASSIVE yoga practice. In contrast to Yang yoga, it involves a variety of seated postures, as well as postures executed while laying on your front or on your back. The poses are typically held for 3-5 minutes or more.

The ultimate aim of a Yin practice is to have participants be able to sit longer (and more comfortably!) in meditation. Meditation is both highly dependent on the flexibility of your body’s connective tissue, along with feeling free of physical distractions, too!

Connective tissue wraps around every bone, muscle and organ in the body, and is most heavily concentrated at the joints (e.g. your ankles, knees, pelvis and spine). These areas of the body have a composition that is not easily shaped/changed in new ways. Therefore, these areas of the body not only NEED to be exercised, but need to be exercised DIFFERENTLY than that of muscle tissue.

The basic tenet of exercise, generally speaking, is stressing the tissue of the body so that it will respond by being strengthened, which typically occurs when muscles contract, in response.

Connective tissue requires the complete OPPOSITE type of stress: a SLOW and STEADY load. This explains why Yin yoga poses are EASED INTO, and then held for a number of minutes. This slow and steady load successfully accesses the connective tissue (e.g. ligaments and tendons), as well as deeper layers of fascia (a type of connective tissue).

Once you stretch one side of the body in a particular pose and release yourself out of the pose, you're sure to be baffled by the difference you feel in the side of the body that was already stretched, vs. the tension that still remains in the un-stretched side of the body. This never ceases to amaze me!

The result?

Stretching and strengthening in the areas of your body that require it the most! You know what those are for you! ;)

While responsible exercise involves a proper warm-up and cool-down with adequate stretching, those bouts of stretching do not access this tissue with this impact.

Over time, connective tissue will unfortunately, gradually shorten to the minimum length required to execute and accommodate your day-to-day activities.

Yin yoga can assist in offsetting this gradual tissue-shortening, to keep you more comfortably able to execute and enjoy those activities you’re both required to do, as well as those you most desire to do!

In attending a Yin yoga class, you’ll notice that a particular sequence/combination of stretches unfold; not all yoga poses (e.g. poses you may have executed during Yang yoga classes) can be done safely or effectively as Yin poses.

As such, expect a unique movement and meditative experience during your Yin yoga practice!

Why WARM Yin Yoga?

While the studio temperature will be slightly cooled down, as comparison to the temperature of a hot Yang yoga class, the heat in the room allows your body to begin your practice in a warmed-up state.

This warmth allows for stretching of the connective tissue in the absence of dynamic, heat-building, sun salutations that typically start a Yang yoga class. It will be glorious!

And, not only will your physical body thank you, if you're in the moment while in your practice and are connected to your breath, your cleared mind and elevated spirit (let alone your Nervous System!), will thank you too!

If you’re lucky, you’ll find a studio that offers later-evening, candlelit classes that have you then going home for a detoxifying, epsom salts bath, following by collapsing into your comfy bed! :D

What have been your experiences with Yin yoga?

I'd love to know!

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I'm Jessica Pecush...

Culinary Nutrition Expert, Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant™ & AIP Certified Coach®

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