Ways to Slow Down on the Mat

nidra, restorative + yin

Discover the slower forms of Yoga by Kimberly Ghorai...




Summertime in Summit County is such a gift. There are many of us who came one season for the joys of Winter and then were surprised that Summer can be just as sweet. Summer is a very yang season, full of long days in the sun, high activity outdoor sports, and constant socializing. As much as we can feel charged up, this endless yang energy can drain us. Autumn is the perfect time for us to wind down, to pull back from endless activity and focus on renewal. It is a time for the yin parts of life to take precedence.

The balance of yin and yang is common knowledge. Ancient origins residing in Chinese philosophy, it presents the idea that the opposites in our lives are co-dependent on the other’s success. An easy example is that if you were to stay awake for 24 hours a day every day, you would eventually expire. On the opposite end, you would equally expire if you slept for 24 hours a day every day. They are inseparable from one another. Without being awake, sleep would not exist. Without sleep, being awake would not exist.

This concept applies to all areas of our lives. Both before and after a season full of activity, your being needs to find the opportunity for a reset, relaxation and release. There are three types of yoga that I recommend for this renewal: Yoga Nidra, Restorative Yoga, and Yin Yoga.

Yoga Nidra is a deep relaxation of your mind that places you into the state of consciousness right before sleep. Stepping into the space between sleeping and waking. In a Nidra practice, simple thought tasks are offered to you as a way of engaging one part of your mind while giving another part of your mind rest. Often called  yogic sleep, you can leave after a short 30 minute practice feeling as though you took a four hour nap. A perfect practice for anyone who feels as though they cannot escape the take-over of brain-fog.

Restorative Yoga brings a complete release of your body. Each pose is supported by the use of bolsters, blankets, blocks and held for 5-10 minutes as you melt and let go. With a target of cradling you until every muscle gives in towards gravity, restorative yoga classes can be highly beneficial to both your mind and your body. When you find the deep stillness and release, your breath begins to slow and your parasympathetic nervous system becomes engaged. This is a practice accessible to all bodies where you leave feeling persistent tension, both physically and mentally, slowly dissipate.

Yin Yoga focuses on the release of your yang tissues (muscles, skin, blood vessels) with a small stress on your yin tissues (bones, tendons, ligaments, fascia). Born out of a history in Monkey Kung-fu, this practice has been gaining popularity in the yoga world for the past three decades. Also utilizing props in long holds on the ground, the goal is to feel slight sensation on a deeper level in your tissues. This compression or tension encourages growth and renewal on these often forgotten parts of the body. You can leave feeling as though you had deep tissue work, much like a massage.

These three practices can be powerful when added into your daily routine. If you found that summertime invigorated your yang side of life through biking, cooking with friends, hiking, boating, working hard and more, consider adding in a little yin this autumn. Better yet, begin adding these practices into your year-round routine to keep balance 365 days a year. Our bodies thrive when we find balance. This doesn’t apply to just your diet, but also your social life, work life, bodies, minds and beyond. Dedicate yourself to one of these practices as a way to bringing yourself closer towards your greatest and highest potential.

Kimberly Ghorai