Last Friday I was invited to attend a Yin Yang Yoga Class. I had been to Yin Yoga two or three times before and really enjoyed the stillness of the practice, so when Andrea (my colleague, and the yoga teacher who would be teaching the class) told me that she infuses the dynamism of Yang with the relaxed pace of Yin, my curiosity was piqued.
I arrived a comfortable 10 minutes before the start of class, to find that we had a full room that morning. It seems many people wanted to sample this yoga of contrasts. Our practice started with a call and response of mantras, as well as an introduction of what to expect in the class. Then Andrea brought us through the Yang part—vigorous bursts of movements and breath which we held for one or two minutes. Although the movements were simple (for example the shrugging of shoulders as a symbolism to let go of tension and worry), the repetition made the moves quite challenging. And yes, such repetition to an first timer would look silly—even stupid, but before any of us could even think that, Andrea beat us to it and said “I know you probably feel stupid doing this, but keep at it and let the experience move you.” Her comment made me laugh, and it broke the mold of what should or must be done. Instead it made me focus on simply doing.
The second half of the practice was devoted to Yin Yoga, where Andrea guided us very slowly into the poses, which we then held for much longer (about five minutes each pose). The previous quick and energetic movements made me appreciate the stillness and surrender of the next poses much, much more. Because we held the poses for much longer, there was so much more time to let go of tension and simply give in to gravity.
After class I felt light and totally at ease. I could see from the faces of the students that they too felt the same. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to start my weekend.
…you have to get creative.
The other day I was on my usual run when I realized I didn’t want to go through the same steady motions. The strong sunshine cast sharp shadows on the side walk, and so I decided to play a game. The rule: only run inside the tree shadows. My regular straight path turned into a maze, and my steady running pace transformed into quick sprints and occasional jumps as I bound from one tree silhouette to the next. Elderly people taking a stroll giggled in amusement as I strode past them. My heart rate rose, I broke into a sweat, and I turned a good run into a great one.