Focusing on balance
When people think about yoga, they tend to visualize a person twisted into a pretzel. Many of us have misconceptions of things with which we are unfamiliar or uncomfortable, and yoga is no exception. It’s often tagged as a religious practice or an activity only geared to the super flexible.
The truth is we all could use a little slice of yoga in our lives. Everyone can enjoy its benefits, flexible or not.
We are often searching for balance in our lives as we rush through our day-to-day routines. Most people have heard of Yin and Yang. Many of us live in the Yang — running to meetings, feeding the kids, packing lunches, swim meets, groceries, deadlines and so on.
We continue quickly down this road until we are derailed by an illness or injury. Often times, it’s just a cold or flu, but it can sometimes take us down a path leading to much more severe illnesses.
This is our body and mind restoring our balance. It’s where the “Yin” comes into play. Yin means restoring and slowing down our daily lives. One way or another, we will find balance, even if it is forced upon us.
This is where yoga comes in, as a preventative measure to our body taking its own action. A Yin, or restorative, style of yoga is best for those looking to find that balance from the insane spiral of their day.
This is said to be one of the most difficult forms of yoga, since the body is still and postures are held for three to five minutes, or sometimes longer.
When the body relaxes, the mind speeds up, creating scenarios, reviewing the grocery list, an email, a conversation, or anything that may be coming to mind again and again.
Yoga teaches us to become present, to forget about all that is bothering us and to begin to bring our awareness to our bodies, finding those pockets of tension and stress. The simplicity of breathing and being present with your breath is one of the first things learned through restorative yoga.
Think about the feelings of relaxation that sweep over you when you simply let out a deep sigh of relief.
To start bringing a bit more yin into your life, try Child’s Pose — a simple posture found in almost any style of yoga.
Child’s Pose is a deeply restful pose in times when you need a break. You will feel a gentle stretch of the spine and compression of the stomach and chest, which benefits the digestive organs. It provides a calm and soothing feeling when you are cold, anxious or stressed.
Supporting the neck in the pose can relieve minor back pain. If your knees are fairly close together, try to add a slight rocking motion into the pose and see how that changes for you.
The greatest part of yoga is exploring and discovering the multitude of classes and instructors, experiencing and learning how to slow down, expanding the mind and body and finding that perfect balance in your hectic life.
Coming into Child’s Pose:
Begin by sitting on your heels and then slowly fold forward, bringing your chest to your thighs and your forehead to the floor. If you cannot get your buttocks to your heels, simply use a bolster (or pillow) or your hands to support your head and relieve any pressure felt on the forehead or neck. Keep your knees at a distance that is comfortable for you without feeling pinching in the low belly or hips. Place a pillow under the chest if you feel the need to support the upper body.
To come out of the posture, simply use your hands to push the floor away and slowly roll up.
Recommended Hold Time:
Hold for three to five minutes. If you cannot get your forehead to the floor, five minutes may be too long, adjust your time accordingly. By staying in the posture longer, you are working into the deeper connective tissues of the body and releasing areas of tension and stress held within the hips and lower back.
The spine, ankles and hips.
Chantal Laurin is a registered yoga teacher and the owner of CYL Yoga and Fitness Studio.