We live in a world of constant movement, messaging, deadlines, and noise. Plagued with everyday stresses, anxiety, and uncertainty it can be hard to find yourself and connect to your center. Further, continual reminders of unworthiness and inadequacy through advertising attempts to lead us to believe that the answers we are looking for exist outside of us – in the form of a better car, a nicer house, better hair, or fancier clothes. Yoga teaches us the opposite, that all of these are an allusion, known as “Maya” and that the true answers we seek are within us. While that may seem to be a daunting reality at first, yoga gives us the framework necessary to access our center where we can find a sense of calm, regardless of the external noise and commotion. Through its teachings, yoga helps us tame the internal noise of the mind. In doing so we are better able to navigate life and come at it from a centered, rational, and calm state of being.
The practice of yoga has been used for centuries to promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Through a combination of asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing), and meditation we have the ability to cultivate an unwavering sense of balance and harmony within ourselves. Mentally, yoga in general helps calm the mind and there are specific yoga practices that contribute to a balanced mental state. Pranayama where the exhale is longer than the inhale helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest state. Nadi Shodana or alternate nostril breathing also helps balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain and creates greater calm and stability in body and mind. Forward folds and spinal twists also help encourage a grounded, calm state. Forward folds in particular cultivate Apana or a descending, centered, stable energy. But the real hero is yin yoga, especially when practiced for extended periods of time. A yin teacher training in Bali is the ultimate way to connect with this calming and grounding practice.
By practicing yin yoga, we can gain more control over how we navigate life. When the sympathetic nervous system is active, the survival brain takes over – the prefrontal cortex goes “offline”. This is known as hypofrontality. The prefrontal cortex is the region of the brain responsible for cognitive function and rationality. When we are stressed, we are literally not thinking clearly. When we regulate our nervous system through yin yoga, we are able to amplify our cognitive functioning, and not only do we feel less stressed, but we also function better in everyday life. Yin yoga and the variety of practices explored on a 100 hour yin yoga teacher training are incredibly effective ways to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest state. That way we can respond to the world rather than react to the world.
Through a yin yoga practice especially, we have the ability to find our center no matter what is going on in our life or the world around us. The Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Hindu scripture says that “Yoga is the journey of the self, to the self, through the self.” It suggests that yoga is part of a process of developing a relationship with our true selves, to find and connect with our soul or our center. By going through the layers of conditioning that surround us we can reach that place of centered calm that resides at our core. Yin yoga is a perfect practice in which to explore this inner landscape. The poses are mostly floor-based and are held for extended periods of time, where stillness is encouraged. In this quiet stillness, we can begin to listen and develop a relationship with our inner landscapes without the constant noise of everyday life taking us away from connecting with ourselves.
Whether you would like to learn how to teach yin yoga or are just looking for a way to find more calm and connection in your life, a 100 hour yin yoga training in Bali is a perfect gateway to finding your true center.