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Helm of the Heart

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Yin yoga is delicious

In our western culture, we definitely emphasize hatha yoga, which is very physical. I know that I thoroughly enjoy a vigorous Vinyasa Flow or heated Power Flow class and especially the refreshed feeling I get after I twist out toxins from my body and leave with a lovely yoga glow.

This type of yoga class is “yang” yoga. Yang is characterized as hot, light, masculine, fiery, extroverted, rapid, and is associated with the sun.

On the other side, yin is characterized as cool, dark, feminine, passive, introverted, slow and is associated with the moon.

Yin and yang are not opposing forces. Yang has a little yin, and yin a little yang.They compose a dynamic system that works together in each of us, although we tend to emphasize yang side in our society. We constantly strive and are always pressing outward for more. I would describe myself as being much more yang than yin, but I have found that encouraging a little more yin in my life has done WONDERS for me.

Let’s take yin yoga as an example. Many people confuse this with restorative yoga, and although it can certainly make you feel restored, it is challenging on a whole different level than our rapid, energized yang classes.

In yin yoga, you are typically on the floor or seated the entire class. Instead of “holding” postures, you sink into them gradually, releasing the fascia and connective tissues. The fascia is generally overlooked but has an incredibly important role in our muscle health. They bind our muscles together and ensure proper alignment in our blood vessels and nerves. They transmit forces applied to the muscles evenly (like the pressure on your knees when you run) and lubricate the muscles so that they can stretch and move with ease.

Releasing tension in the fascia will allow your muscles to change shape and lengthen. Postures in yin yoga are maintained for a longer period of time (usually around 3-10 minutes) so you really get to release the fascia and not just the superficial (yang) muscles groups. These postures promote muscles elasticity and will help to prevent injuries, especially for runners.

During my first yin class, I was amazed at how challenging it was to hold poses for such lengths of time. Trying to clear my mind and actually meditate is a whole other story. But I walk out of yin classes feeling like I just got a massage.

I do my best to practice yoga everyday. I typically do vigorous yang classes five days out of the week and yin classes twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays to give my body a rest from all the vinyasas. Also, I have staff meetings on Tuesdays and I typically need to find my center after those.

If I have a headache, cramps or any other mild discomforts, I now know that practicing 15-20 minutes of yin yoga will relieve my pain far more effectively than ibuprofen.

This page has a ton of yin yoga resources, lists of yin asanas and videos to walk you through them.

http://www.yinyoga.com/ys2_2.0_yinyoga_asanas.php

If you are going to practice at home, make an event of it. Light some scented candles or incense and dim the lights. Play some soft music.

Happy Yoga-ing 🙂

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Yin yoga is delicious

We definitely emphasize Hatha yoga in our western culture, which is very active and physical. I know that I thoroughly enjoy a vigorous Vinyasa Flow or heated Power Flow class and the refreshed feeling that washes over me after I twist out toxins from my body and leave with a lovely yoga glow.

This type of yoga class is “yang” yoga. Yang is characterized as hot, light, masculine, fiery, extroverted, rapid, and associated with the sun.

On the other side, yin is characterized as cool, dark, feminine, passive, introverted, slow and associated with the moon.

Yin and yang are not opposing forces. Yang has a little yin, and yin a little yang.They compose a dynamic system that works together in each of us, although we tend to emphasize yang side in our society. We constantly strive and are always pressing outward for more. I would describe myself as being much more yang than yin, but I have found that encouraging a little more yin in my life has done WONDERS for me.

Let’s take yin yoga as an example. Many people confuse this with restorative yoga, and although it can certainly make you feel restored, it is challenging on a whole different level than our rapid, energized yang classes.

In yin yoga, you are typically on the floor or seated for the entire class. Instead of “holding” postures, you sink into them gradually, releasing the fascia and connective tissues. The fascia is generally overlooked but has an incredibly important role in our muscle health. They bind our muscles together and ensure proper alignment in our blood vessels and nerves. They transmit forces applied to the muscles evenly (like the pressure on your knees when you run) and lubricate the muscles so that they can stretch and move with ease.

Releasing tension in the fascia will allow your muscles to change shape and lengthen. You maintain postures in yin yoga for a longer period (usually around 3-10 minutes) so you really get to release the fascia and not just the superficial (yang) muscles groups. These postures promote muscle elasticity and will help to prevent injuries, especially for runners.

During my first yin class, it became quickly apparent how challenging it is to hold poses for such lengths of time. Trying to clear my mind and actually meditate is another story entirely. But I walk out of yin classes feeling like I just got a massage.

I do my best to practice yoga everyday. I typically do vigorous yang classes five days out of the week and yin classes twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays to give my body a rest from all the vinyasas. Also, I have staff meetings on Tuesdays and I typically need to find my center after those.

If I have a headache, cramps or any other mild discomforts, I now know that practicing 15-20 minutes of yin yoga will relieve my pain far more effectively than ibuprofen.

This page has a ton of yin yoga resources, lists of yin asanas and videos to walk you through them.

http://www.yinyoga.com/ys2_2.0_yinyoga_asanas.php

If you are going to practice at home, make an event of it. Light some scented candles or incense and dim the lights. Play some soft music.

Happy Yoga-ing 🙂

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