1. Come to your appropriate edge. Different variations of the one pose will be demonstrated to suit different levels of experience, anatomy, mobility and injuries. Props can assist you to stay comfortable and relaxed in these variations. Move slowly into your variation of the pose, determining the appropriate depth of sensation required. We do not aim to go to our full range of movement in Yin Yoga. A good guide is to start at 40% and eventually come to 60 – 90% intensity only. If you are already very mobile remember this practice is not about stretching, instead we eustress (stress in a healthy way) connective tissues, which includes joint capsules, fascia, ligaments, tendons and even the muscles. If you are a hypermobile student then I encourage your practice to be more of a meditative one rather than seeking a sensation of stretching in the body.
2. Resolve to dissolve. Bring your awareness to the area being targeted and allow yourself to relax and release without resistance. Once you have relaxed the target area scan the whole body looking for areas of resistance, tightness and/or tension and allow it to dissolve. Your exhale breath is your relaxing breath, and your inhale breath is your refreshing breath. So, on an exhale breath relax and surrender.
3. Be still for a few minutes. Unless you are moving to a deeper or lesser intensity, try to be still and not fidget. We hold for long periods to access the connective tissue and to nourish the meridians (energy channels) similar to acupuncture. 1 – 3 minutes is appropriate for beginners and 5 mins for regular practitioners. Mindfulness techniques weaved through the class encourage us to practice equanimity so we have a sense of calm, patience and ease even in uncomfortable poses. We learn to recognise thoughts, sensations and feelings without adding to them or silencing them. A helpful mantra is, “this too will pass”.
4. Release with care. It is important to come out of the poses slowly and carefully (over a couple of breaths). Depending on the pose, your hands can be used to take some of the load to ease yourself out safely. As you release you may experience discomfort, shakiness and instability, which is normal. Each pose (and sometimes each side) can be followed by a rebound pose where we rest and observe any rebound sensations felt in the body. These may be felt as subtle or strong sensations like a dull ache or fluttering in the body possible due to the target area being eustressed, and chi (energy) flowing through the meridians. These type of sensations are typical but if it hangs around longer than the class or into the next day perhaps you pushed past your appropriate edge and should back off a little next time.