Do you know what to do to strengthen your body postpartum? Or are you drowning…
Yin Yoga: A Gentle Practice To Calm & Soothe Your Body & Mind
December 7, 2021 • By Bre Ferguson
I still reflect back on the moment a healer told me that Yin Yoga would be the most calming and soothing practice for me. “Psh, no. She doesn’t know me. I NEED movement.” The kind where I break a sweat and elevate my heart rate.
Yin Yoga is different. It’s slow and gentle. Because it’s purpose is to prepare us to sit comfortably in meditation. It does this by stretching the connective tissue & fascia where stress and trauma live in joints and spaces between the muscles. These longer, passive stretches allow the brain and body to receive space and feel safe again. Sounds great, right?
Back then, I didn’t fully get that.
Instead, I stayed in resistance. Because chaos was my addiction and stillness wasn’t something I ever allowed. I grew up dancing five hours a night, competing in sports, participating in every activity I could immerse myself in. “What am I good for if I am not constantly productive?”
But here’s the thing: as a full-time Yoga teacher facing a lot of stigma around what Yoga is, I missed the point of the entire practice until I tried Yin Yoga.
It was during Yoga teacher training and I was so exhausted from the 16-hour weekend of physical Vinyasa when I noticed time escaped me in seated meditation. Yep, my first and only way into meditation was after complete physical and mental exhaustion. Which is how I lived the majority of my life. Go until I drop.
In that session, I awoke to the fact that I could sit for 2-3 minutes in one shape at a time. And bit by bit I learned to calm my body and mind into a centered, clear resting state. I didn’t need to be busy all of the time, I needed to learn to slow down, rest, and find my own ability to self-soothe.
Healing occurs when we are removed from the survival response we fall prey to from life’s stressors. The stress hormone cortisol decreases and our ability to rest increases. Our mind can relax and focus to allow us to witness ourselves. This is active recovery in a whole new way. Bringing back energy, deepening sleep, regulating the nervous system– this is what rest should be.
Slowing down and being with myself in this way helped me see my patterns of trauma around the need to always perform. To be constantly on. Feeling entirely worthless if I didn’t make something of myself every day. This practice emulated learning to receive, curating patience, fostering faith in myself that I am inherently worthy.
My performance is not a demonstration of my self-worth.
I never knew the ease, calm, and mentally clarity I could feel from mindfulness. I never knew what sitting with myself meant until I came out of Savasana and my hips felt more spacious. Lighter. My spine had this deep sense of ease. My shoulders are soft and resting down my back. Present, centered, and settled.
This practice has unearthed a new version of myself. Every time I practice I meet her again. Now I won’t go 1-2 weeks without a big long Yin session to meet calm Bre again. I like her. I want this version of me closer always.
Still, at times I get on a manic doing spree- -the difference is that now I stop, drop, and Yin. This simple practice provides me space to resolve the restlessness, anxiousness, and worry right out of my body and mind. Problem solving becomes easier.
This practice soothed me through huge life transitions including job loss, break-ups, family crisis, a cross country move, and of course the pandemic. How powerful to learn to self-soothe and sit with myself. After all, this life isn’t getting easier. But I can get calm, be more patient, and trust in myself to maneuver life changes. This practice is my way into presence.
As a mom, life demands so much of you physically, mentally, and emotionally. You are surrounded by meeting other people’s needs constantly pulling you in every direction. It’s so easy to lose yourself in the chaos. This is the exact reason I encourage you to incorporate a Yin practice into your life. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be hard. It can be exactly where you are. And exactly what you need.
As I described, a Yin practice utilizes longer holds of postures. It takes 90 seconds to process a feeling so within a three minute hold you will be able to fully shift out of discomfort and into whatever it is you need in that moment. Whatever is next for you.
I recommend setting a timer for 2 to 3 minutes (make sure your timer ring is something less jarring and more soothing).
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat.
- Cross your right ankle over your left knee and consider bringing this figure 4 shape toward your chest, interlacing your fingers behind your left thigh.
- And then, stay. Remain in the pose, feel what you need to feel, and allow the sensations to wash over you and dissipate until your timer rings.
- Slowly, carefully, intentionally come out of this shape and repeat on the other side, resetting your timer.
- Allow your breath to deepen and your thoughts to wash over you and dissipate in the same way the sensations thought your hips cycle through you.
- Remain in this shape until the timer rings.
I highly recommend exploring a more full Yin Yoga for yourself. Because I want you to feel this feeling of peace and the benefit it brings in your lifetime too. Especially as you do so much for your little ones. Check out the upcoming events & offerings as I often lead classes for the pstprtm community.