In a post-covid world (is that we say now?), one might think we all learned how to slow down.
But it sometimes feels like many of us are stuck in a place between our old world of running on the hamster wheel with no getting off in sight, and this new place where we have had a taste of quiet (albeit it during a lockdown), and still trying to operate at the same pace as we did before all of this began.
How are our nervous systems coping?
If you have not had your own personal experience of hitting the wall from over-exertion, you will have surely witnessed it in a loved one, or maybe your turn is still yet to come?
As we navigate these new times, and try to find the frequency which best serves our households, finances and nervous systems, I have to sing the praises of yin yoga as a practice that does a tremendous job of caring for our minds and bodies.
Here are three ways in which yin yoga can help to soothe a frazzled nervous system, and help bring you back into a state of balance:
1. It helps to slow down your breath.
You might arrive to the class all anxious and out of breath; maybe you were running late, had a stressful day or could not find a park. But slowly as the practice begins, and you are carefully guided back to your own body and breath, the breathing will even out and help to calm you down.
Particularly if the yin yoga teacher continues to bring gentle awareness to your breath, and encourages you to take long slow even deep breaths, pretty soon you will feel the sympathetic state soften, and your mind slow down.
You may even learn some simple breathing tools that you can use when you are not in class to help keep you grounded during the day.
2. The stillness of the practice helps you to feel steady.
How often in your day are you still and quiet?
Perhaps being still makes you feel anxious about not getting enough done in your day?
Whilst some people find it very uncomfortable in the beginning, the practice of yin yoga forces you to slow down and be still.
Once you can move past that uncomfortable space of mental unrest, there can be great solace in the quiet and calm that awaits you on the other side.
It might take you the whole class to get there, but your nerves will thank you for the time you carved out to rest.
3. It encourages the practice of mindfulness to ground your thoughts.
A skilled yin yoga teacher will offer you invitations throughout the class to guide you mind back to your body and your breathing.
The simple mental act of feeling where your body is making direct contact with the floor, can help a scattered mind find a moment of focus.
Paying attention to what is happening, at the moment it is happening, is the definition of mindfulness. When are minds are hurtling into a yet undecided future as if it were truth, we can feel all sorts of unnecessary overwhelm.
Noticing your breathing, noticing the sensation of your clothes against your skin, noticing where in your body you feel sensations during the practice, are all potent ways to soothe a scattered mind and gift yourself some lovely moments of rest and ease.
What's Your Reaction?
Karina Smith is a Melbourne based Doctor of Chinese Medicine and Yin Yoga Teacher, Teacher Trainer & Educator. With a passion for women's health, through Yin and Chinese Medicine Karina aims to improve the health of her students, patients and clients.After years of dancing and its emphasis on performance, yoga was an unexpected beacon of self-care and restoration for Karina, where her relationship to movement shifted to something that was there to nourish her mind and body.
A year after commencing practice at the Australian Yoga Academy (AYA), Karina knew she wanted to do the yoga teacher training on offer there - and from thereon it has been a deep-dive into the rich offerings of this ancient practice.
Karina has now studied and taught yoga extensively - including two 350hr Teacher Trainings (AYA and Shantarasa Institute, India), studies under the renowned Bernie Clark and Paul Grilley, over a decade of teaching at numerous studios in her home town of Melbourne, and lecturing for The Australian Yoga Academy.
In 2018, Karina launched her own 50 Hour Yin & Functional Anatomy Teacher Training and continues to run this course. Karina’s love of Yin Yoga revealed a deeper fascination for human anatomy and led her to pursue Chinese Medicine. After graduating in 2019, she now runs her own clinic offering acupuncture, herbal therapies, moxibustion and cupping treatments.