There are times when sitting still for a session of mindfulness meditation seems like an impossible feat because of the physical tension stored in the body. At these times a series of gentle and steady yoga postures can discharge physical and mental stress and prepare the body for meditation.
Yin yoga is a style of yoga that focuses on holding certain postures generally for two to five minutes. Yin yoga poses can be practiced before or after a more vigorous yoga and are a great “warm-up” for seated meditation.
In yin yoga the focus is on warming and invigorating the joints and tendons with the idea that this tissue, just like muscular tissue degenerates with lack of exercise. Yin yoga philosophy also holds that where there is physical tension, there is emotional tension. Working through a series of yin postures before meditation can quiet the mind and prepare the body for a nourishing meditation session.
Because of it’s slow pace, yin yoga is great practice for beginners, and the length of time spent in the posture as well as the depth of the posture can be modified to accomodate any level of flexibilty.
I first learned about yin yoga by taking a weekend workshop at kripalu with Sarah Powers. Sarah combines buddhist philosophy and gentle instruction to allow students to center the mind and body. Paul Grilley’s books and videos on yin yoga are another excellent source for those looking for an introduction to the practice.
I highly recommend the following videos for excellent at-home yin yoga instruction.
How to you prepare your body for meditation? Let us know what works for you.
We wish twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!