Saturday, February 19, 2011

something completely different: yin yoga

Yesterday I decided to try something a little different- yin yoga. I went in to the class knowing only this:
Hot Yin Yoga - Most forms of yoga practiced today are Yang, they emphasize muscular movement and contraction. Yin Yoga targets the connective tissue of the hips, pelvis and lower spine. Yin postures are held three to five to ten minutes at a time. This type of practice complements the more muscular styles of Yoga and is a great aid for opening up the body and increasing flexibility and range of motion. (taken from the yoga studio's webpage)
I had no idea what these 3 to 5 to 10 minute poses would be but I knew that my hips, pelvis, and lower spine could use a little work. So off to "hot yin" I went. (originally I was not going alone, but due to some unfortunate traffic circumstances, I went to this class solo)

I expected this to be a less popular class than the others offered at the studio (usually I take the flow classes) and was somewhat right because it took place in the smaller room but was surprised that it was pretty packed! Since I didn't know what to expect, I looked around to see what other people had taken and noticed everyone had two blocks and a strap- so I grabbed those and settled myself on my mat.

As I genuinely didn't know what to expect, I was a little worried about holding poses like warrior or plank for minutes at a time but was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a nice and gentle class that took place seated and lying down. We started with a little yang by doing some ab work, but that was only for a few minutes. We stretched our necks, our shoulders (my shoulders feel a little weird today from all the eagle arms), our butts, our was a slow, gentle, "do what works" kind of class.

I wasn't sure how I'd like holding a pose for 5 minutes- but I found it really relaxing. The music was peaceful, the room was warm and cozy (ok, hot and sweaty) and I could just lie there and let the stretch happen. It was a perfect way to close out the week on a Friday evening. I left the room feeling very relaxed and "zen-like".

The instructor helped set the tone with her soothing voice and did a great job guiding a "newbie" like me through the class. My only complaint would be the lack of quiet with which some people put away their blocks and left the room...but that seems to happen in a lot of classes. I think I just noticed it more this time because it had been such a peaceful class (ok, that AND the fact that two women were whispering to each other).
Yin yoga is definitely NOT for the times that you're looking to use yoga as a workout and it isn't for everyone. There's no muscle shaking, no "I'm not sure my arms can handle another chaturanga (yoga pushup)," and no feeling of muscle exhaustion at the end. Instead, it helps work through that tightness that you didn't know was quite so tight. I don't think I'd want to do exclusively yin yoga, but I think it is a great compliment to other yoga and to other activities- like running.

Anyone else done any yin yoga?


Susan said...

I've done it! Never hot thought, that would be interesting as I find I always get cold in yin because you're not moving around much. I like/dislike it. I find it can be really boring and my body gets achy holding poses for so long. But at the same time it uses my muscles in an entirely different way that I can feel the benefit from :)

k said...

After reading the wikipedia page about yin, it says that it is supposed to be done when your muscles are cold- so hot yin seems to almost contradict itself, but I kind of liked the hot room. (I think that like you, I'd get cold in the normal room- though I guess I could "bundle up")