The Yin and the Yang
I’ve been on this journey of practicing yoga for exactly 4 years now. I started practicing when the counselor I was seeing at the time highly recommended it. So I did some quick research and found a studio near my house. It offered a hot and humid room of 105 degrees with a 90 minute class. I took my first class and I was hooked. The marathoner and Ironman in me was stoked. Not only would I get to de-stress and stretch, but I would get a workout in too. Sweet! I went back to see my counselor. I told her I found a studio I loved. She was excited and then asked me about it. So I went on to describe what Bikram yoga entailed. Her smile faded. She then explained to me that she wanted me to do “gentle” yoga which would not raise my heart rate. She wanted me to stay away from any activities that would stimulate my sympathetic nervous system; which is also known as your “fight or flight” system. This is the nervous system that is stimulated when we are stressed or trying to run away from saber tooth tigers. Well I loved Bikram so much that I was not going to stop. So I kept going and going and going.
Yoga saved my life.
This past fall I was ready to begin the next phase of this yoga voyage – yoga teacher training. Initially, I was going to take the training required to teach the sweaty 90 min class I had fallen in love with, but the training was cancelled. Hungry, open, and ready for more I decided to explore a completely different training. And so began my journey into the world of vinyasa, more specifically, Baptiste Yoga. Vinyasa is basically coordinating movements to form a flowing sequence in coordination with the breath. It’s a beautiful practice and I have fallen equally heels over head in love with it just as I did with Bikram yoga. The other love I encountered along this journey was yin yoga.
Yin is a delicious complement to the other yang-like practices like Bikram and Power yoga. In fact as we age, a regular yin yoga practice is equally if not more important (depending on the individual) than a traditional cardio routine. I recently completed my yin yoga and meditation training with the beautiful Sagel Urlacher and I am excited to be teaching yin & meditation both out in the community and in my home studio. Yin yoga is a ssssllllllloooooowwwww practice that stretches and strengthens our deep connective tissues. Again, I cannot reiterate enough just how yummy this practice is! My work as a nurse, especially with New England Organ Bank, has fostered a deep appreciation for the benefits of all types of yoga, but most of all the yin yoga. Check out this article for a more in-depth description of yin yoga and then get yourself to your local studio to check it out. The amount of space yin yoga frees up inside your body is amazing. After my 3 day intensive training my usual morning back discomfort had disappeared and I felt as though I had so much room in my abdomen that I could have carried triplets!
But don’t take my word for it! I invite you to go out and explore your own yin practice. If you live locally I am opening my home studio next week for private classes. Hope to see you on the mat!