Thursday, September 2, 2010

An Ode to Yin

In our fast-paced society, we're always on the go whether physically or emotionally. It doesn't help when you are the kind of person that always needs to be active and doing (and when you have the kind of mind that is always thinking and analyzing and bouncing up and down). When you hear that your friend is opening up a yin yoga practice, that sounds great but the style itself is not necessarily something that you deem to "for you." That's exactly why I decided to go cheer on the awesome Devin Johnstone on tonight by attending his opening session.

Yin yoga is named as such because it follows the Taoist concept of yin. If you had to compare it to another yoga style, it's of a similar (but slower) pace than hatha yoga. It often holds poses for five minutes or longer. It is a perfect complement to more yang style activities (like ashtanga or power yoga, or like the cardio sessions I usually do). It targets connective tissue, ligaments, and wants you to just be. It is a more passive form of yoga that is meant to teach to let go, to appreciate, to take in what the Universe and your body has to offer you in the present moment. It seeks to teach you not to push harder, but to just be. While I can be very introspective, brain-teasingly slow yoga styles usually set off the alarms of the ADD monkey that lives in my head, so I was a little apprehensive of a slow-paced 1.5 hour yoga session.

However, once the tabla started playing and once Devin started doing his thing, yin yoga fit me like a glove. After just the first pose, I could actually feel my spine grow longer, vertebrae by vertebrae, like those documentaries when you watch a seed grow in sped-up motion, yeah, that's what my back was doing. My mind never went into fugue state once. It never sought to start planning my day tomorrow. It never tried to push the moves we were doing to the eXXXtreme. With the right music, energy, lighting, space, and words, Devin created the perfect environment to learn to come to peace with ones body and let it be. I was surprised to find that my brain monkey behaved so well. As it quietly sat in the back corner of my mind, I was able to find total peace and relaxation.

Some of the poses challenged me for sure. Despite years of dance and narcissism-inducing levels of flexibility, I have the world's tightest female piriformii (weirdest pluralization ever). Asking me to do five minutes of pigeon asana or a frog asana is akin to asking me to take my own eyes out with a spoon. Okay, maybe it's not that bad, but it is fairly painful, but in the state I was in, I was able to just relax and tell myself to do it. That hour and a half was easily one of the best stretches of my life. So thanks Devin. Yin yoga is now something I definitely know I will turn to again.

Workout of the Day
Learning to be with 1.5 hours of Yin Yoga

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