You’ve decided to start yoga and a Yin class has been recommended as a great place to begin. But what now? Here are some helpful hints to get you beyond the first class nerves.
1. Everyone was a beginner once. You may find yourself in a space where everyone seems to know what they’re doing. The teacher knows everyone and you begin to feel that you’re the only new person there. Don’t worry, most yogis are very friendly and if you smile at the person on the mat beside you they most likely will smile back.
2. Everyone will be staring at me. Yin yoga is great for providing a decent stretch on the tissues of the body, but it also allows people some time to switch off from their busy lives. A lot of students close their eyes to focus on their breath and maintain their concentration. They’re too busy trying to find their own zen to notice what you’re doing.
3. I’m not flexible enough. Not to worry, Yin yoga will help to improve your natural range of flexibility by working on strengthening and lengthening the tissues. Over time you’ll be amazed at your improved range of motion.
4. There’s no way I can stay in that pose for 5 minutes! I feel this way too, all the time, but by slowing my breath down and concentrating on the inhales and exhales 5 minutes passes quite quickly. If you begin to feel uncomfortable in any posture, try to take 3 slow, deep breaths. This should help to relieve any underlying tension and allow you to remain in the pose, but if it doesn’t then please slowly and carefully move to lay on your back or to come into child’s pose.
5. I find it difficult to switch off. This is another common issue for a lot of people. Without the challenge of moving from pose to pose in a flow or vinyasa yoga class, the mind tends to wander and we can find it difficult to remain ‘in the moment’ to enjoy our yoga class. But this is also a skill that takes time to build, and we can only get better at it through regular practice. When you settle into a Yin pose scan down through your body from head to toe checking in with each area as you go. This is your chance to release any areas that are tight or feeling a bit tense. To release them think about the breath entering and leaving the body from that area, leaving space behind as the tension releases. After the body scan, you can begin to focus on counting the breaths e.g. inhale 1, exhale 1 etc. all the way up to 7, then 1 – 14 and 1-21.
Yin yoga is not a practice to be hurried, but one to be savoured and enjoyed like a very tasty piece of chocolate cake, or a holiday to a beautiful location. This type of yoga is all about how you feel and what your experience is at this current time. If you’re enjoying a pose and feeling a good benefit from it, you can remain there for as long as you like, while the other’s transition to the next postures. Likewise, if you experience discomfort in a pose or cannot find the balance between effort and ease, I would encourage you to lay on your back in pentacle pose or to move into child’s pose. This is your yoga class, and you should enjoy it as much as possible.