If you keep up with our news at Alpine Therapies you will know that last year I became a registered yoga teacher (RYT200), having completed a Yoga Alliance certified 200 hour teacher training programme. The course I did was very comprehensive so we learnt about various yoga styles. One of these was Yin Yoga. It is a style of yoga that I had little experience in but really enjoyed getting to understand it better. I believe it is the perfect counter balance to the hectic, action packed (and often very stressful) lives that many of us lead today. I am lucky that in my little corner of the French Alps we have a yoga teacher that has specialised in teaching this style of yoga, and has taken it one step further by combining Yin Yoga with the use of sound through Reiki drumming and singing bowls. Are you wondering what this is all about?! Natalie Bradshaw of Yoga In Nature has very kindly agreed to share with us some of her knowledge and experience of Yin Yoga so read on to learn more!
Words by Natalie Bradshaw:
How did I find out about Yin Yoga?
I first stumbled across Yin yoga at a yoga retreat in February 2016. I was struggling with some stressful situations at home, an autoimmune disease, adrenal fatigue and slowly burning out so I really resonated with the practice and decided to explore it further. My relationship with the practice was very up and down to begin with as I didn’t understand it. However since completing over 200 additional hours training specifically in Yin Yoga I have gained a much stronger understanding of how to do poses properly, effectively sequence, work with the meridian system and understand the anatomical influences. I have been able to heal many physical, mental and emotional issues for myself and others.
What is Yin Yoga?
Yin yoga is a slow and soft style of yoga which allows you to stress and nourish the deeper connective tissues such as ligaments, bones and joints which are harder to target in more dynamic (yang) styles of yoga. Through holding specific poses for longer periods of time (1 – 20 minutes) you can also stimulate the flow of chi (vital energy force) through meridian lines (pathways for energy to flow – a Chinese medicine concept). This can release energetic blockages that may be manifesting (or has the potential to manifest) in physical, mental or emotional problems.
In Yin Yoga, there is a real emphasis on looking after yourself and listening from within by asking yourself ‘how am I feeling?’. The idea is to take yourself to your edge – a place where you feel sensation in the desired areas however not to feel pain. You should be able to rest in the pose comfortably and in stillness for a specific period of time.
Once you understand how to get into the pose, including the options available to take you to your edge, what meridian line and organs you are nourishing and where to feel the sensations….. the practice really begins. Yin Yoga is also very effective in calming the nervous system by triggering the parasympathetic side of the nervous system through the special emphasis of relaxing the belly and tongue where the vagus nerve passes through. The specific sequence you do will influence which organs and meridian lines you nourish and each pairing has different mental, physical and emotional benefit.
For example: lung meridian (yin) is paired with the large intestine meridian (yang) and has 11 acupressure points through the meridian lines in the body starting between 1st and 2nd rib ending at the thumb. Stimulating this meridian can have physical benefits for ailments such as asthma/sore throats/low immune system and from an emotional perspective grief/sadness/courage.
Here are some of the benefits of Yin Yoga
- Calms the nervous system by triggering the parasympathetic side of the nervous system
- Balances the mind and body, encourages healing and can prevent situations or injury
- Stresses the deeper connective tissues such as ligaments, bones and joints
- Improves joint mobility and increases lubrication between joints
- Increases circulation and improves flexibility especially hips, pelvis and lower spine
- Nourishes meridians and the organs in which they travel unblocking the flow of vital energy throughout our body
Why do Yin Yoga?
‘life is a balance of holding on and letting go’ – Rumi
I believe that everyone should practice Yin Yoga. Living in a modern world its really easy to become burnt out doing a million things at once. Many of us are in some kind of physical or emotional pain but we just keep on going as humans that’s just what we do! Sometimes we just need to press the pause button and look after ourselves – after all, we can’t pour from an empty cup! Having a good understanding of Yin Yoga, practicing safely can heal our body and mind therefore giving us the capacity to change our perspective and help to prevent situations or injury.
Everyone needs to live a balanced life and too many ‘yang’ style activities like jobs, being a parent, hectic schedules, dynamic sports activities etc can be exhausting. We forget to listen to ourselves and take time to reset. With Yin Yoga we can press the pause button, look inwardly, listen to how we feel which can allow us to go deeper, be present and calm.
Incorporating Sound and Reiki
Training in Singing Bowl Therapy with Grand Master Shree in Nepal has allowed us to bring sound healing to our Yin Yoga classes, workshops and retreats to enhance the experience and offer deeper healing and relaxation for attendees. The sounds, vibrations and frequencies which we play are transported to the cellular level of the body and has a profound effect on mental peace, relaxation and healing. Also, stimulating the blood vessels, lymph, nerves, veins and muscles to open up blockages and loosening tension in the body.
We finish our sessions with a Reiki Drumming Shower which can be a deep relaxation technique that reduces stress and promotes healing. Reiki re-activates the body’s natural energy system, bringing you back into balance on every level, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Drumming for healing and meditation is an ancient practice and goes back thousands of years. The power of sound over the body and spirit is well known in tribal cultures. Scientific research confirms that drumming (even for short periods) can influence brain activity, bringing you into the meditative alpha state and can reduce stress. Studies also shows that drumming can increase the production of the body’s natural painkillers and can therefore help control pain and enhance healing.
The combination of Yin Yoga, Singing Bowls and Reiki Drumming is very powerful and transformative and we love to offer this unique experience to our students.
Where to find Natalie’s classes…
Class timetable, workshop and Retreat dates or more information can be found on www.yogainnature.co.uk