Have you noticed that every time you step onto your yoga mat it’s a different experience? Sometimes we choose a fast-paced sweaty class and others we seek a more chilled-out type of practice. While all yoga will help you relieve stress, taking the time to slow down and unwind can nourish your system on a deeper level. This week we’re bringing you slower classes designed specifically to help you shift your system back into balance.
One of the most profound ways a slower yoga practice impacts us is by soothing our parasympathetic nervous system. Holding poses for longer periods of time, like in Yin Yoga, encourages our “fight or flight” adrenaline responses to quiet. When you’re in Sleeping Swan (half-pigeon) for several minutes on each side, not only do the tight muscles and connective tissue begin to relax, but the mind quiets and the heart rate slows. When you can slow down and leave the rest of the day behind for even a little while, you’re refilling your well and soothing your nervous system.
We store emotional stress in our bodies. Restorative and slower-paced yoga classes allow you to shift your awareness inward and tune into your feelings. When you simply breathe and relax, a sense of freedom arises to examine your thoughts and emotions. Tight hips often correspond to unprocessed emotions and past trauma. Anxiety centered around career and money woes tends to sit in our shoulders, neck, and spine. By slowing down and allowing these areas time to release, we can gradually let go of the layers of pain residing in our tissues.
At the same time, in a slower yoga class, the stillness encourages a deeper self-awareness. While a fast-paced Vinyasa can be a moving meditation, holding poses for time can help us settle into a deeper contemplation. Quieter classes are perfect before bedtime to encourage restful sleep. Practicing supported inversions, like Viparati Karani (legs up the wall), trigger your nervous system’s relaxation response. Yin can also be appropriate any time you need to refresh yourself from the inside out and find your sense of equanimity.
Taking your time is powerful, especially if most of your life is busy and action-packed. A slow yoga class can offer you the same renewed feeling you have after a great night’s sleep. This week’s yoga classes are excellent tools to relieve stress and reset your system. Try them all out and see how great you feel!
Caitlin Rose Kenney - Yin Yoga for Stress Relief
Elise Fabricant - Quick Yin Fix
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