Beginner Yoga, Yin Yoga, Yoga to relieve stress

To begin a Yin

Stillness. If you sit still for three minutes, where does your mind go?

Yin yoga is a practice where you “start cold,” and hold poses (asanas) for three, five, ten… some number of minutes, and melt into the pose. It is very different from the more active, heart-pumping practice of yoga most of us in the West are familiar with.

I first tried Yin about two years ago. I didn’t break a sweat, so I decided it wasn’t for me.

Months later, I developed a persistent pain in the ligament stretching from my knee to the outside of my calf, down to my heel. It hindered my yoga practice and made running a (literal) pain.

I returned to the Yin class with an open mind, thinking “This is gentle. I’ll just do this until the pain goes away.”

That first class back, we held King Pigeon, a challenging pose in any practice, for three minutes. On each side. The long holds are meant to give time and space for the fascia and connective tissues between our muscles and bones to open and stretch… and while in pigeon, I began to sweat. A lot. My heart rate was normal, but I was indeed releasing something that had to go.

For me, three minutes of stillness is enough time to begin to question life choices, make big decisions, ruminate on asymetry, and eventually, let go.

In a world where we go, go, go, strive to achieve and “win,” Yin is humbling. Because it is a slow, quiet practice, it tends to be the first one to go when I am on vacation, or too busy, or in a rut. However, that ligament pain went away not long after I began practicing yin weekly. I’ll always go back.

I’m currently reading a book about Yin Yoga by Bernie Clark and it is blowing my mind. As a teacher in training I am excited to delve deeper, melt even more.

Have you tried Yin Yoga? What was your experience?

Mothering, Pondering, Yoga off the mat

Lessons from the Atlantic

Our family is vacationing on the sandy shores of southern Maine, aka Back Home for me. Our first beach day, coordinating boogie boards and SPFs proved to take a little longer than expected, so we arrived towards the end of the low tide coming in.

Man did we get thrashed. The waves were deceptively rough, making for lots of giggles in the beginning but resulting in bathing suits full of sand, goggles and hair-ties being swept from our possession, and extra salty tears.

My 8 year-old, an accomplished swimmer and aspiring marine biologist, took the brunt of Mother Ocean’s teachings. There is always another wave coming. Sometimes the shiny are revealed to be trash when you’ve finally got them in hand. If a great force takes your goggles, you will never see them again… let go and commit to holding more tightly next time. Sometimes you have to submit to the sand and accept it as part of the experience.

We all got beat up pretty well on that first beach day. I was worried that the kids wouldn’t want to go back. But we did! Before low tide. The tide was calmer, the surf gentle. We collected shells and whole crab carcasses, marveling at how clear and warm the tide pools were. “It’s nice to have a relaxed beach day,” my 8 year-old commented, “but the waves are too gentle to (body) board. So I guess it’s good we can have it both ways.”

Truth, baby. That’s the truth.

Pondering, Yoga off the mat

Flexibility, fostering growth

I was talking to a friend about her knee pain, suggesting she stretch because sometimes knee pain means tight hamstrings, quads, or even the hips, the back…

“A little every day is better than a lot one day. Build up to longer holds and deeper stretches…” quoting myself here.

It occurred to me this is a good mantra for most days. A little every day is better than too much. Don’t expect too much right away. Learn to pause, be still, take time, be now.