It always amazes me when decisions which seem small or inconsequential can lead to big changes in my life.
When I learned that my new job had awesome benefits like a yoga membership, I looked for the nearest studio to my house and signed up for a month long intro pass. Although I didn’t know it then, this decision would lead to an experience which changed my attitude about yoga and perseverance entirely.
The first class started with a brief explanation of what yin meant and how it was different than “yang” or more physically demanding yoga styles. The pace is slow, but it is by no means easy. She told the class that we would be holding each pose for up to five minutes. That seemed like an eternity. I thought there was no way I could do this, and looked at the door, planning how I would quietly slip out.
But something surprising happened…
After the first week of going to the studio everyday, I felt the effect of inertia. You know, Newton’s first law: an object in motion tends to stay in motion. When you start the ball rolling, it will keep rolling. It was easier to commit to going every day than to going three days a week, because it took the choice out of my habit.
When you remove the factor of decision fatigue, you are more likely to turn an action into a habit. When I decided to do yoga every single day, it no longer became another decision I had to worry about.
Yin forces you to unplug and remove yourself from time. You can step away from the cult of busyness and the demand for filling every minute of your day with what seems like productivity. Jam packing your life with small tasks that you can easily check off will give you the sensation of productivity, just like a vinyasa class will be a surefire way of working out. But there is an essential balance – if your time is spread between many small, easily achievable tasks while never getting into a mode of “deep work”, you will never have time to tackle those big landmark projects.
A daily practise of yin yoga will not put you at risk of damaging your muscles and joints. This does not mean that it is easy. Yin will reinvigorate your body and your mind and is perfect for people who spend long periods of time working at the computer, in an office, or working in an environment where you are sitting for long periods of time. When you practise yin yoga, you hold each position for five minutes or longer, bringing a deep stretch to your fascia, the connective tissues of your muscles.
While vinyasa yoga will get your heart rate up, break a sweat, and help you get a killer workout in… it runs the risk of feeding the need for busyness.
Yin yoga will teach you to focus: on your body, on your mind, and on your work after you roll up the mat and leave the studio.
Yin yoga is a powerful activity to help the body recover from the effects of chronic stress by lowering stress hormones known as cortisol. This improves sleep, digestion, energy levels, and mood. I find myself sleeping better, eating better, and having more patience.
Most instructors encourage calling your time at yoga “your practise” because it is just that. It is practise. It isn’t something that you become good at, or something you can ever master. Even the most physically simple poses like child’s pose or mountain pose can be the most mentally demanding.
Making yin a priority and committing to practise everyday, no matter how I feel or how my day has been going, has been life changing.
By slowing down, I have supercharged my work habits. I am more focused, more rested, and more motivated to work when I need to work and rest when I need to rest. My summer of yin yoga has taught me how to persevere and develop healthy habits that really stick.
Yin yoga has been my way of getting myself out of a rut, but there are so many other great activities which might work even better for you. In our eBook “Unstuck: How To Get Your Sh*t Together” there are plenty of tactics for recognizing what is holding you back, how to resolve these issues and bad habits, and move forward back onto a path of success.