Sore muscles, injuries, over-extension of the body…if you’re an athlete then you’re no stranger to these. From running track to weight lifting, chances are you’ve experienced some type of injury or strain throughout your life. Injuries may be inevitable at one point or another, but what if I told you there is a practice even the most trained of athletes could adopt to prolong and minimize injury?
Enter Yin Yoga. A gentle, yet challenging, yoga practice that allows you to drop into your own body, listen, and be present with anything and everything that comes up, both physically and mentally. Yin is a seated, grounding practice, within which poses are held for 3-5 minutes in order to bring mobility to the joints and ligaments. By practicing this style of yoga, athletes are able to work deeper into the muscles to transform the way the body moves.
In most classes you see in Western yoga, students are working with their yang muscles, or power muscles, which can be similar to an athlete’s normal routine. When practicing yin yoga, students are asked to relax into postures, taking on a more passive approach to working through deep connective tissue and fascia in the body. Fascia, oh, juicy fascia, connects every part of our body together and by caring for your fascia, you are maximizing athletic performance and muscle flexibility.
Yin Yoga offers athletes a chance to find stillness in the mind and body. Given that poses are being held much longer than a yang-style yoga class, a student will notice everything under the sun come up in their mind and body. From sensation in the hips to thoughts about past experiences, yin allows these physical and mental emotions to rise and be released through the power of passive movement. When intimately working with the body by breaking through connective tissue, students will find themselves breaking through old emotional patterns and coming out of class stronger. Not only in the body, but in the mind as well.
Yin can be practiced at home or in a formal class setting, although it is recommended to start in a class where a teacher can hold space for your body and all that arises. If practicing at home, use these five postures to start transforming your body and athletic performance: