Your Emotional Self-Care Guide in Yin Yoga
Yin yoga is not just a physical practice. Often when practicing Yin yoga, we can traverse deep into our emotional processing that no other styles of yoga can take us to.
Why is that?
First of all, Yin yoga forces us to be still. And for some people, this stillness can be excruciatingly painful. Quite often when we are dealing with unresolved emotions (such as anger and sadness), we tend to pack our schedule with activities, appointments, chores and so on to occupy our minds to avoid confronting our emotional discomforts. Secondly, when holding a posture for a long time (like we do in Yin), we stimulate the energetic channels also known as meridians throughout the body. This consistently held pressure in the meridians act like acupressure and ultimately removes energetic stagnation in the channels upon release of the pose. Energetic stagnation can manifest in physical forms such as body pains, headaches, insomnia, and indigestion; or the stagnation can transform into negative emotions like jealousy, frustration, indecisiveness, paranoia, and depression.
Our well-buried emotions can surface up in different ways. Here are a few examples:
- An unexpected but intense emotional reaction such as anger, sadness, fear, and anxiety.
- A special memory or image from the past flashing before you. This memory/image can be something from childhood, past relationships, or a dream.
- You feel claustrophobic, nauseous, or anxious and feel the need to escape your practice.
- Uncontrollable crying and often the cause is unknown or from unresolved past relationships/events.
- You may feel an insurmountable sense of fear as if your life is threatened.
These are just a few of the many examples that you may experience during a Yin yoga practice. It is important to know that even the smallest hint of unease feeling deserves your attention. It is an opportunity to scope into your internal landscape- a reflection of your emotional wellbeing.
So now, the question is- what should you do when you experience an intense emotional release during practice? Below are a few suggestions that can help with your emotional processing:
Writing down what you felt during the practice helps you remember and reflect later on. Describe in details what sort of feelings came up in practice- was it sadness, terror, frustration, or grief? Did you recall any special memory such as from childhood or a significant moment from your adolescent/adulthood? After a few entries, you may discover a pattern, and you can use the pattern to navigate what is it from the past or the present you are suppressing.
2. Acupressure, Qi Gong or Massage Therapy
Often we can clear up energetic stagnation through touch and sound. Acupressure and massage therapy are excellent ways to calm the body and restore mental peace. You should seek a well-trained therapist with whom you feel safe and connected to. As well, Qi Gong is a subtle Chinese energy practice that helps cultivate positive energy, increase blood circulation and sharpen mental focus. Qi Gong also uses sound vibration to release negative emotions.
3. Nature Walk
Taking a walk in nature helps bring balance in our body and mind. The fresh air and new perspective help us expand our mental horizon and ease our mind from obsessive thinking. As you take a leisurely stroll in nature, examine in details your surroundings and enjoy the present moment.
4. Nourishing food and plenty of sleep
It takes a tremendous amount of energy for emotional processing. Nourish yourself with nutritious food/drinks and get plenty of sleep. Avoid cold food/drinks, spicy food, coffee, and alcohol.
After an intense release, you might feel extremely sensitive to people, light, smell, and sound. As best as you can, spend some time alone in silence. Witness your thoughts, body sensations, and feelings without any disruptions. Practicing silence is a great way to restore energy and gain a new perspective on our state of being.
Although the experience of emotion releases can be uncomfortable, nonetheless, it’s a golden opportunity for us to release any suppressed negativity. In Chinese medicine, diseases come from repressed emotions. Our emotional health is vital for living a long and healthy life. Yin yoga is an excellent gateway in finding balance from the inside out.