Yin Yoga

February 13, 2011 § 2 Comments

After a few days of home practice, I checked out a Yin Yoga class on Friday just to add some variety to the mix. Plus, I missed the group dynamic and felt that having someone guide me through a sequence of postures would make for a more seamless flow than me getting up every five minutes to check out the next pose from a book.

The whole session lasted for 75 minutes. Very calm, very quiet, and very…..boring. No breath + movement coordination, but lots of deep, slow breathing and holding of postures for a few minutes at a time. It was relaxing for sure, but to this Ashtanga-trained system, there was a lot of relearning going on. The slow pace of the class meant that I had what felt like an eternity to both relax into each pose and master the incessant mental chatter that’s always there. I took the opportunity to practice Nasagra Drishti as best as I could (with my flat nose, this drishti always gives me a headache when held for too long), and also apply the techniques of Shambhala meditation. I think there’s a huge potential for this genre of yoga to supplement, or even help, one’s meditation practice. Well, for me anyway.

We ‘warmed up’ with Viparita Karani for about ten minutes, then sat on our mats for a short chant accompanied by a harmonium. I love the sound of this instrument, and how it felt surround-sound-like when reverberating off the walls. With the eyes closed, it felt as if my voice had no sound of its own, but was the sound of the harmonium. Does that make sense?

What followed were a series of simple stretches. There was a Sphinx and Seal pose (which took a while to figure out if it was a Cobra or an Upward Dog), some Cat and Cow stretches, Janu Shirshasana A, the Dragonfly, the Pigeon (with our foreheads on the ground) and finally, supported Bridge and Fish poses before the final Savasana. We had 30-second Savasanas throughout the practice as well, so the final one wasn’t as much of a real relaxation as it would be after an Ashtanga practice.

As much as I dislike making this post into a Yin vs Ashtanga practice comparison, I can’t help it, given how Ashtanga’s been such a big part of my life for the past 15 months. I plan on continuing with this Yin class on a monthly basis, because I can see how it’s a complementary supplement to an Ashtanga practice, and also, one class is just not enough to warrant a dismissal simply because it’s different from what I’m used to.

Have any Ashtangis out there tried out this style of yoga? What are your thoughts?

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§ 2 Responses to Yin Yoga

  • YYogini says:

    Yes. As static as it may seem, Yin yoga is actually harder than most flowy styles of yoga. Ashtanga is the practice of using muscles to hold your poses, whereas in Yin class you’re asking your muscles to stop engaging so the tendons and ligaments get a stretch, which could take a few minutes before your body lets it happen. Meanwhile your head is screaming “This is so boring! I want to MOVE!” So it’s a discipline training for the mind as well.

    • D says:

      Spot on. Yin strips yoga down to the essentials, allowing one to really work on ceasing the ‘fluctuations of the mind’. It was most certainly uncomfortable for the better part of 75 minutes, but therein is the lesson and challenge: to be still, both mentally and physically.

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