Fall signals the season for pumpkin spice everything, cozy sweaters, and (finally!) cooler temps. But it also channels frantic back-to-school vibes whether you're in school or not, and you could be feeling the pressure from a busier fall schedule. No matter what fall means to you, when stress is in the picture, making time for the things that bring you back to baseline is vital.
If you're looking for a totally game-changing practice to add into your routine to calm the chaos, may I suggest Yin Yoga? Yin is a type of yoga that's known for helping to reduce stress and calm the body, even more than a more energizing or sweaty vinyasa style class. "Yin yoga is used to describe a slower, softer style of postural yoga practice," says Jo Tastula, a yoga instructor at Glo Yoga.
What is Yin Yoga and what are the benefits?
There are plenty of types of yoga that move quickly and focus on improving strength and flexibility, sure. But Yin Yoga is focused less on practicing for strength, and more for relaxation and stress release. "Here the postures are held for longer and require passive effort," says Tastula. "With the muscles relaxed, the so-called 'yin tissues' of the body are targeted such as connective tissue, fascia and bones."
What to expect in a Yin Yoga class
If you've done other types of yoga, you will likely see familiar yoga poses in a Yin Yoga class. If you are a total yoga newb, no worries. You don't have to know any poses ahead of time or have any yoga experience to do a class. "The yin practice is quite simple," Tastula says. "Its challenge is to remain calm and centered while experiencing all of the sensations that arise with holding deep stretches."
Expect to flow through the poses much slower than other types of yoga, focusing on a gentle release. You may even hang out in a pose (like a child's pose, for example) for a few minutes at a time.
3 reasons why Yin Yoga is a game-changer for stress.
1. It forces you to slow down
One of the things about stress that can make you feel, well, more stressed, is the feeling that you can't slow down and catch a break. Yin Yoga is not a class that you can rush through, and the slow, deliberate poses force you to focus on your body—not your to-do list.
2. It helps you focus on your breath
Breathing helps you calm your nervous system, and Yin Yoga helps you use your breath to navigate uncomfortable tightness in your body and racing thoughts in your mind. "The breath becomes an ally in the practice as we begin to face unresolved emotions [and] lingering mental chatter and feel the limitations of the body," says Tastula. "Being with these sensations in an intimate way is the first step toward real, long-lasting change of perspective and a more peaceful, spacious inner experience."
3. It helps you stay present in the moment
When things get stressful and hard, it's easy to try to distract yourself from the discomfort or push away the feelings of overwhelm. While that's one way to cope, it may not be the best way to manage stress in the long run. "In Yin Yoga, one learns to become present in the body and to soften in the face of strong, and sometimes uncomfortable, sensations," says Tastula. Those uncomfortable sensations could be stiffness or tension in the body, or it could involve the discomfort of quieting that endless chatter in your mind. "Learning to be with what is arising, and not pushing away or looking for distraction, is a key component to stress management," Tastula says.
3 Yin Yoga videos to try
1 Hour Yin Yoga Class Without Props
Yin Yoga for Stress and Anxiety
Full-Body Yin Yoga for Beginners
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