Very often, when we talk about yin yoga, I have to think of our first dog. Sammie No.1, a bundle of hyper black lab. Maybe because he was born in Colorado where the air is a bit thinner, he was extremely hyper. I walked and ran him for hours and he never missed a beat. He tired me out – not the other way around. People told me that he will slow down soon, but it took him 11 years to finally settle a bit.

They say, dogs are like their owners… I admit, I have a hard time sitting still and just being with what is (maybe that’s the thin air in the Alps where I was born).

When I took my first Yin Yoga class, I was still very much hooked on the fast paced Vinyasa style practices, and I felt misplaced. How could people around me be so still, seeming not just quiet but even content? I could not wait to move on to the next pose or shape. I even watched myself getting angry, thinking this is stupid and frustrating (sorry Angela). Yes, it was a physical challenge which I love to get deep into the connective tissue, but it was much more a mental challenge. I watched my mind going 100 miles an hour in all kinds of different directions.

I can still hear my teachers’ voice inviting me to “simply allow whatever comes up, emotions, thoughts, images… to simply look at those, acknowledge them and let them be or maybe even release them with an exhale”.
For me, that was not a simple thing to do! But I followed her advice and kept trying – for months.

Just like with our doggie Sammie, the general suggestion that it takes 5-10 times to really get the body and mind to like Yin Yoga was not for me. It took me at least twice as long to embrace the experience of stillness in a yin class and to actually like it.

I know I am not the only one feeling this way. In this day of age, even here in Destin, where everyone seems on beach time and maybe more relaxed than elsewhere, most of us live a fast paced life style, constantly on the go, busy, busy, busy. When do we take the time to quiet down – no calls or texts, no TV, no distractions, just us?

To withdraw, to meditate or practice yin or any other restorative yoga can be quite the challenge. Between a deployed husband, a stressful job, and a sick parent overseas, Yin Yoga saved me from having a nervous breakdown.  It allowed me to just be, no judgement (besides my own), just me, the shape/pose, the breath, and the attempt to quiet down the mind.

So what exactly is yin?
I really want to say: Try it out and see for yourself, even if this is your very first time practicing yoga!
You do not need to have any previous yoga experience to attend a yin or restorative class.

But here are some facts: It is the complement of your muscular practice, may it be vinyasa, hot 26, or any other active, yang practice. It allows you to re-connect with your true self. All poses/shapes during yin are supported by floor, blankets and blocks so one can avoid using muscles. This will turn your practice into a more passive one. By practicing in an unheated environment, we keep the muscles cool and prevent them from taking over while holding the poses/shapes. We stay for at least three minutes per shape to get into the deeper layers of connective tissue and start stressing the joints to create space in the body.  By being still, maybe even fidget-free, while in the shape, we get to still the mind utilizing Anapanasati – the observation of our breath.

Even after practicing Yin Yoga for 5 years, I am still fighting the battle of being quiet and still once in a while and I wish Yin Yoga had found me earlier.  But I certainly quieted down like our doggie and I am way more relaxed and laid back (and it is not due to age:))

We created space for you to find that stillness, mentally and physically at Destin Hot Yoga. Every Sunday at 5 pm, we offer unheated Yin Yoga for 75 minutes and we also have specialty 2 hours classes for Yin and Restorative, (soon to come LSD- Long Slow Deep). Please allow us to share our sanctuary with you.