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?

Beginner Yoga, On Aging, Yoga for non-yoga people

When you begin

You may not be able to touch your toes. 

You may not be able to breathe in and out without coughing. 

You may be embarrassed. Worried you don’t look right. Your mind may be scattered. You might feel as if you have made a mistake. Like you don’t belong. 

Today in a beginner class there was a man who must have been anything between fifty and seventy years old. He was unable to turn his head left or right without extreme effort. He could not lie flat on his back. He was groaning with almost every pose. 

But, he did amazing! He stuck with it. 

Two things made yoga success for him: he told the teacher it was his first time ever and what his physical limitations were, AND he approached the class with a sense of humor. 

When you begin, it is tempting to blend in with a class. Put your mat as far from the instructor as possible. You might compare yourself to the other students. 

Don’t. Yoga is not a competition. It is not a group activity. It is for you, to improve mobility, to improve your mood, for your body and mind. Yoga is your experience, and a good teacher and sense of humor will result in success for your first or thousandth class.