If you’re a yoga regular, you’ve likely seen options for yin classes at your studio. But even if you’re not a yoga junkie, this kind of yoga might provide the anxiety relief you’re looking for.
Yin provides a counterpart to the more dynamic, intense yang sessions that include classic Western yoga classes like power, vinyasa, and hatha. “While yin yoga is internal, passive, cooling and downward, yang is external, dynamic, warming and upward,” yoga teacher Joelle Sleebos tells Women’s Health. “Yin is a slower practice where poses are passively held for longer, working deep into the connective tissues and joints in the body.” Just for a moment, let go of your idea that a “workout” needs to be an intense, grueling experience. Open your mind to a different form of bodywork that not only heals your physical body, but also your emotional and mental bodies, as well.
Think of it this way: If you’re adding an intense workout onto an intense job, home life, and experience, it can compound your experience of anxiety and worry. When you slow down, focus on your breath, and hold space for yourself to feel what you need, it can make a huge difference when it comes to your mental state. “It’s about balancing your physical and mental activities,” Sleebos adds, “so you can reach a place of balance between these two opposing forces.”
Yin yoga soothes the nervous system
While a yin session may seem uneventful, there’s a lot going on underneath your skin. When you hold the yoga poses for longer, the body can release more from your muscles and connective tissue. But, perhaps the most beneficial component to the practice, yin yoga forces you to slow down — and the mind to follow suit.
As you hold the poses, you may recognize notable shifts in your perception, the way you feel, and more, Yoga Journal explains. Your to-do list takes a back seat as you switch to observation and relaxation mode. You may come face-to-face with some intense emotions, and it’s best to let them arise without judgment during your yin sessions, the outlet adds. Cultivating a sense of surrender, patience, and non-reactiveness can offer a welcome reprieve to the anxious mind’s quick move to fight or flight. While sitting alone with your thoughts may seem counterintuitive to curbing anxiety, this practice actually helps yogis approach them with a greater sense of trust and compassion, according to Yoga Journal.
As your mind relaxes, your breathing can deepen, which turns on your parasympathetic nervous system — a.k.a. rest and digest mode. A state that you want to be in as often as possible, rest and digest is where anxiety can quell, the body can rest, and you can feel better.
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