Slowing Down: The Key to Yin Yoga


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Yin Yoga Tip: Slow Down

Legs Up the Wall/Figure Four

I can see the snow drifting down outside the window to my right. I’m lying on my back with my left leg pointing up against the wall. My right leg is crossed over it in a figure four. I focus on the weight of my body pressing into the floor; my head, arms, spine and hips feel heavy. After a few moments, my body begins to surrender to the pose. Tension in the joints and muscles of my legs starts to ease. I flex my toes towards my knees, allowing the left leg to rotate outward. I take my time and let my body tell me when it’s ready to go deeper. I count my breaths.

Two minutes have passed and I’ve taken 50 breaths in this pose. Now I feel my ego start to give way. My legs are more limber, and I press my right knee towards the wall, opening the hips. With each exhale I let go of anxiety and fear.

I’m at 70 breaths now. My toes are starting to feel numb, which brings the anxiety back. Maybe I should move, I think. But I recognize the thought as my ego telling me I can’t go on, so I return my focus to the breath. By concentrating on each inhale and exhale, I’m able to find “suchness,” or awareness of all things.

I’ve reached 100 breaths, and move into cobbler’s pose/legs up the wall as a counter to the deep stretching I’ve just finished. The hard work is done. I feel a sense of gratitude. My mind is at ease.

Crossing the Threshold

Because I took my time in this morning’s yin yoga practice, I was able to overcome the kind of anxiety that often causes people, including me, to release from a pose too soon. There’s a threshold in yoga, and the only way to cross it is to slow down and focus on the breath. You’ll find tranquility on the other side.