My Latest Yoga Obsession February 14 2019

Maybe its the rebel in me but I do not resonate with the latest performative yoga trends. Don't get me wrong, I understand it, acro yoga is beautiful and these rooftop postures or dangling off the sides of cliffs probably really get the adrenaline going but where does someone go to deepen their practice if these other lineages do not speak to them?

We head to a Yin yoga class.

Yin yoga is a slow-paced practice of yoga with postures held for more extended periods of time-sometimes up to 4 minutes. During my recent classes, the teacher instructed us that our only goal was to find the posture, soften with the breath, and hold for time. These instructions all sounded so simple, but I had no idea how challenging this would be both physically and mentally. The postures did not look that complex yet I felt myself entering into a deeper yoga practice than I have in a while. Both my body and mind seemed to join forces in a rebellion against the practice. This discomfort (not pain mind you) reminded of what a former yoga teacher once said to me, "your walls are your wounds." I had the option to roll up my mat and walk out, but instead, I chose to stay, identify my walls, and listen to the dharma talk instead of my own mind chatter.

The teacher spoke about using our breath to soften into the experience instead of bracing against it. I scanned my body in the simplest of postures and realized every part of me was clenched. Yin yoga postures focus on the connective tissues of the body—the tendons, fascia, and ligaments—with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility but not muscular tension or exertion. The practice consisted of long-held, passive floor poses. It was the length of time that I held the postures for that made the difference. The posture I entered into at the beginning of the four minutes was drastically different than the one I finished with. I attribute that to the breath, the softening of muscles and the immersion into a meditative state instead of the hyper-self-consciousness that sometimes accompanies higher level flow classes.

When the class focus shifted to hip openers, I realized that I was now in love. How had I thought this wasn't for me just 30 minutes prior? I felt a build-up of stress leaving my body as I allowed myself to be supported by the floor in a deep hip opener. I could have remained in that posture for an hour. It was the type of deep softening that my body knew it needed and I had been denying lately.

But what about all that adrenaline that comes from an intense yoga class? What about the effect it has on my body to attend a level 2-3 classes several days each week?

I realized I did not have to abandon one practice for another. Yin is a fantastic ancillary option that I believe has amplified my regular yoga practice. My elevated flexibility increased focus, and trust in my body are all directly related to my new love, Yin.