• The Definitive Guide to Yin Yoga: Everything You Need to Know

    “Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?” ― Lao Tzu

    If you’re looking for a yoga practice that will help you to slow down and de-stress, yin yoga may be perfect for you! It is a relatively new form of yoga that has been gaining popularity in recent years. But what is yin yoga? And what can you expect from a typical yin yoga class? Keep reading to find out!

    What is yin yoga?

    Yin yoga is a type of slow-paced yoga in which poses are held for longer periods of time. It’s an excellent way to release tension from the body and mind and can be very relaxing.

    In a yin practice, the poses are passive. During a class, you will usually find yourself in a series of seated or reclining positions. The goal is to relax into the pose and let gravity do its work. The poses are held for three to five minutes, and sometimes up to 20 minutes.

    Yin yoga is a great way to complement your regular yoga practice, or it can be practiced on its own. If you’re new to yoga or looking for a more gentle practice, it may be perfect for you.

    Origins of yin yoga

    Yin yoga is a relatively new practice, having only been around since the 1970s. It was created by martial arts teacher Paulie Zink, who was looking for a way to balance the Yang energy of his students with the Yin energy of meditation.

    The term “yin yoga” is derived from the Chinese Taoist philosophy of yin and yang. Everything in the universe is made up of these two opposing but complementary forces. Yin is the passive, feminine principle, while yang is the active, masculine principle. In yin yoga, we seek to balance the two energies by spending more time in passive poses (yin) and less time in active poses (yang).

    What are the benefits of yin yoga?

    It can have a number of benefits for your mind and body. In addition to promoting flexibility, yin yoga can also help improve your range of motion, increase circulation, reduce stress levels, and encourage mindfulness.

    It is a restorative and therapeutic form of yoga that can be beneficial for connective tissue. The long-held, passive poses help to lengthen and release tightness in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This type of yoga can be particularly helpful for those who are dealing with injuries or chronic pain. Yin yoga can also be a great way to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

    Additionally, because poses are typically held for longer periods of time than other types of yoga, it can also help to improve your focus and concentration.

    Who is it good for?

    It is good for people who are looking to improve their flexibility and range of motion. It is also good for people who want to reduce stress and anxiety levels.

    One of the things that makes it so special is that it can be practiced by people of all ages and levels of experience. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned yogi.

    When is the best time to practice?

    You can practice anytime, but the best time to practice is at night, before bedtime. This will help you wind down and prepare for a good night’s sleep. Yin yoga can also be practiced in the morning, to start your day with a calm and relaxed mind.

    What to expect from a class?

    You can expect to spend more time in each pose than in a traditional vinyasa class. Poses are usually held for three to five minutes, or even longer. The goal is not to push your body to its limits but rather to relax and release the deep connective tissues around the joints.

    In yin classes, many props are used, like blankets, bolsters, and blocks, to support the body in each pose. This allows you to completely relax into the position and focus on your breath.

    The main principles to remember about yin yoga are to relax and let go. Breathe deeply and slowly, and trust that the pose will do its work. Try not to force your body into any position, but rather find a comfortable place where you can surrender and be at ease.

    Watch this class with Anamargret Sanchez to experience yin yoga for yourself.

    Start your Omstars membership today to get expert guidance for your at-home yoga practice.

    By Omstars

    Photo by Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash

  • Reevaluating your New Years Resolutions – A Guide for Yogis

    At the beginning of each and every year, many of us begin with a set of resolutions intended to help us better our lives in some way, shape, or form. But by the time we reach the end of the first month, in most cases, many of us let our resolutions slip by the wayside. In other cases, we find ourselves moving forward without success, and perhaps a felt sense of failure. Fortunately, some of the more basic principles of yoga can help us re-evaluate our resolutions and move forward with more manageable intentions.

    In the process of re-evaluating your New Year resolutions and plans, it’s a good idea to start out  by checking in with yourself. How are you doing with your New Years resolutions? How do you feel about them? How do you feel about you?

    Be honest. Awareness is key to moving forward with success.

    In many cases, we tend to approach the new year with high expectations and far reaching goals that are hard to achieve. Then, when we fail to stick to our resolutions, our self-judgement can be harsh. AS human beings, we can be much harder on ourselves than we would be on anyone else.

    If this sounds like you, here’s what you need to do: take a deep breath in and a deep breath out.  Let go of your guilt and consider replacing your hard to achieve New Years resolutions with a few basic Intentions.

    New Years intention #1: Practice more compassion toward yourself.

    Think about what you would say to a friend who is being hard on herself for her perceived failure. You’d likely be kind and encouraging, right? Treat yourself exactly the same way you would treat your friend. Then, try to understand why you’re not finding success through this method of forcing new lifestyle habits into your life.

    If you notice that you’re being unkind to yourself, apologize and make a mindful attempt to be nicer. Simply by practicing more compassion, we can being to move away from this idea that we should be forcing change upon ourselves. This small change can help us shift into a new perspective of allowing ourselves to create healthier habits more organically. Which brings us to our second recommended intention…

    New Years intention #2: Create change in a more fluid and organic way

    Try changing the way you set your New Years Resolutions. Instead of forcing a new diet or workout regime upon yourself, for example, try setting an intention around making healthier food choices and finding more ways to be active every day.

    Hold your new, softer intentions in your mind, and revisit them every day. When you approach your intention to be healthier from a place of loving kindness toward yourself, (making healthier choices as a means of taking care of your body) instead of self-critique (trying to eat a restricting diet and stick to a strict exercise regime in an effort to change your body), you’re more likely to find success. If you don’t manage to fulfill an intention today, be kind to yourself and just try again tomorrow.

    New Years intention # 3: Build more inner strength

    By keeping your New intentions at the forefront of your mind each day, you have the opportunity to act based on those intentions, using your discerning mind (buddhi), instead of your sense mind (manas). Every time you take action on your intentions with discernment, you give yourself the opportunity to build inner strength.

    Inner strength is ideal for living your life with more intention, which is really what this is all about. As yogis, we want to be more intentional about the decisions we make and the way we do things.

    New Years Intention #4: Connect with your Higher Self

    As we begin to live our lives more intentionally – practicing more compassion toward ourselves, and cultivating a sense of inner strength – we can also begin to strengthen our connection with our Highest Selves. This is where the real change happens.

    Developing a deeper connection with yourself will help you to raise your vibration. Raising your vibration will help you create positive change not only for yourself, but for the whole world.

    Let me reiterate: intention is key. When it comes to creating positive changes in your own life and the world at large, we must understand that it’s all about living with intention. So, if you’re beginning to feel that your New Year’s resolutions aren’t really serving you, consider making this subtle shift. Trade out your limiting resolutions for a few life changing intentions, and notice all of the positive changes that find their way into your life.

    Best of luck!

    By Alex C. Wilson

    Alex Wilson is a writer, yoga teacher, and Ayurveda Yoga Specialist. She is passionate about empowering students to create space for healing and self-discovery in their lives. She is also the content manager for Omstars.com.

     

  • Managing Holiday Stress – A Practical Guide for Yogis

    If you really think about it, dealing with all that heightened stress, family drama, and last-minute shopping during the holiday season is really no different than moving through a difficult asana practice.

    Now that we’re knee deep in the holiday season, we thought this would be a good time to present our tips for managing all of that holiday stress with the patience and grace of a yogi. You’ve been practicing all year long, right? It’s time to put all that practice to good use!

    Last Minute Holiday Shopping

    Some of us still need to finish up that last-minute shopping, but braving the holiday traffic, and the mindless shoppers could be the trigger that sends you spiraling into an anxious frenzy. Our suggestion – no matter how many things you have on your to do list, keep up with your yoga practice. Whether you’re able to move through a full-length flow, a more abbreviated version, or just to sit down and breath, you’ll find it’s a lot easier to keep your cool when you keep up with your daily practice.

    And if braving the holiday traffic isn’t an option for you, there’s still time to get online and buy that special someone a membership to Omstars 😉

    Dealing with Difficult Family Members

    If you’re someone who has the pleasure of spending loads of time with that difficult uncle, or your overly critical mother-in-law during this beloved time of year, your stress may be kicking into high gear right about now. Much like breathing through a difficult yoga posture can be your saving grace during practice, your breath can be your best friend when it comes to dealing with difficult people. So, in those moments when you’re loved ones are driving you crazy, find your breath, and just focus on that. Try to keep it smooth, even and comfortably deep. This is key to keeping your cool.

    Hosting Parties & Gatherings

    Anyone else out there finding themselves to be the lucky person who gets to host one or two or all of the get holiday get togethers this year? If you’re like me, your stress will probably start to peak as you prepare to invite guests into your home. Well, much like that one pose you can’t quite get into, remember, hosting a get together does not require perfection. Just do your best, be patient with yourself (and your guests), and most importantly, practice ahimsa (kindness).

    Eating & Drinking

    As you may have noticed, the holidays often involve the consumption of alcohol and a whole lot of food. So, when things start to wind down, and life goes back to normal, it’s easy to be hard on ourselves for over indulging. Our advice is to just be mindful. Pay attention to what you’re putting into your body, give yourself the opportunity to enjoy the special treats you only eat this time of year, but don’t over do it. Listen to your body, and you’ll be fine.

    Finally, our last piece of advice is to just enjoy the season; it only comes once a year. With the potential for so many beautiful moments, it just doesn’t make sense to spend all your time caught up in stress, especially when you have yoga as a tool to help you get by. So, keep practicing, remember to breathe, be kind to yourself, and stay mindful.

    Warmest wishes to you and yours this holiday season, with so much love from all of us here at Omstars.

    By Alex Wilson

    Alex Wilson is a writer, yoga teacher, Ayurveda Yoga Specialist, and the content manager here at Omstars.com

    Alex Wilson, Anxious yogi