Many of us have lives that are primarily Yang in nature – rushed, busy and energetic with a premium on getting things done and moving on. There’s nothing wrong with this if it’s in balance with rest periods, in fact a certain amount of eustress* keeps us as at our mental and physical peak. That’s why we enjoy sports and hard physical training.
It’s the ‘in balance’ part of the deal which many of us find hard to achieve however, often because the Yang doesn’t stop when we’re inundated daily with ideas, opportunities and asks. Even if you are good at saying ‘no’, if you’re one of the many perfectionists in sport you may get caught in the trap of over-committing to training which can lead to burnout.
Personally this is where I felt my life tip out of balance when the commitment and drive I applied to my sport outweighed the time I put aside to genuinely stop and rest. I’m not one for sitting on the sofa and putting my feet up. What worked for me is a form of yoga known as Yin, which is broadly similar to restorative yoga. Each pose is held for 3 to 5 minutes to allow you to get still, spending time just breathing and deeply affecting the connective tissues and joints of the body, going much further than a standard stretch.
Although the poses are reasonably simple, spending such long periods in each position can be both physically and mentally challenging. To aid with comfort we use bolsters, cushions, blankets, aromas and music to make the experience relaxing albeit in a gently challenging way. At the end of a session the levels of relaxation that can be reached in Savasana, resting under a warm blanket and lavender eye pillow are way deeper than I've normally experienced. I now put aside an hour of Yin Yoga once a week (usually on a Sunday) to help me reset and prepare for the week ahead.
From January 31 I will be leading a one hour Restorative Yin Yoga class at Sweaty Betty in Bristol, 4 - 5pm. See more here...
*means beneficial stress - either psychological or physical (e.g. exercise), consisting of the Greek prefix eu- meaning 'good' and stress, literally meaning 'good stress'.