Friday, July 27, 2012

yoga on my mind

I cannot believe it's almost the end of July. How did that happen?

In the meantime, I've been working on a few things... trying to get back into teaching yoga, for starters. I team-taught a class with another instructor/yoga studio director last night. As this was my first time to teach a group again (meaning, other than my husband!) after three years of not teaching, I *think* it went quite well. I taught a Vinyasa sequence (Sun Salutation A and B with variations) as well as introduced yin yoga at the end.

Interestingly, when the studio director and I talked after class, she asked me how I thought the class went. My response was that I *thought* it went ok. Typical...

I have to be honest and say I'm not the most confident person. I've had some people say that they wouldn't have thought that about me, but it's true. Mind you I'm not fishing for compliments here. I'm always thinking I did just ok and there are a million things running through my head about what else I could have done, what I could have done better or differently. I have also adopted the "mantra" of "fake it till you feel it". Ha! But sometimes, even when you fake confidence, in the end, you do feel it. Anyone else with me on this?

And interestingly, when the teacher and I talked after class, she said she intentionally did more core exercises during her part of the class to help me with my confidence (or lack thereof). Solar plexus chakra issues, I know. 

Anyway. She thought I did well teaching the vinyasa sequence, but her first instinct said that I would do great teaching a yin yoga class. And interestingly, when I taught yoga years ago, I taught more yin than vinyasa - although I do love both in my own practice.

Before I go any further, you might be asking, what the heck is yin yoga?

yin yoga "shoelace" pose | image source

Yin yoga is a more restorative and relaxing style of yoga that takes the stretch into the deeper connective tissues in the body, rather than the muscles, through long holds (3 minutes or more) with the muscles relaxed. Relating it to the Eastern philosophical concepts of yin and yang - which are opposing qualities that are present in all phenomena - yin types of movement refer to movement that is passive, cooling, and restorative, whereas yang types of movement refer to those that are active, warming, and dynamic, such as vinyasa yoga in which you flow in a moving sequence while linking the breath with every movement. Relating these concepts to the body, the connective tissues (ligaments, fascia) are yin, whereas the muscles are yang. Yang tissues (the muscles) are best exercised through repetition and movement to strengthen, whereas yin tissues are best exercised through slow and gradual traction. Yin yoga also focuses on the connective tissues around the lower back and hips, which are places in which we experience a lot of compression through our daily activities such as sitting at a desk for hours.

And why the connective tissues anyway? Paul Grilley, who wrote a book on yin yoga, explained: if you think about the careers of competitive athletes, many of them don't retire because of weak muscles - they retire because of problems in their joints. So through yin yoga, we put moderate stress on the connective tissue, thus gradually making it more elastic to protect our joints and maintain range of motion. Otherwise, "our connective tissues shorten to the minimal length necessary to accommodate our basic activities" (Grilley). So if our basic activities are largely composed of sitting, then, well, you get the picture.

Anyway... I won't go further into this topic other than to say that yin yoga has been such a great complement to my vinyasa and alignment yoga practice. It's a quiet, meditative practice. If you practice yoga and have not tried a yin class, go for it. Your body (and mind) will thank you!

I don't want to count my chickens before they are hatched, but I'm hoping to teach a vinyasa and yin yoga class soon...

I'm also going to a yoga workshop this weekend at this friend's delightful studio. Since it's all the way in Lexington, I'm going to make a quick trip out of it and stop by Cincinnati to see these friends as well as spend time with my friends EB and ML in Lex.

Lots of yoga talk today... now go get up from your desk and stretch for a bit.

Happy Friday, everyone!

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Kristin said...

Good for you girl! I'm sure your class went way better than you imagine. I know there are ALWAYS things we think we could have done better... You're over the hardest part though: STARTING! And for that, big high five :-)

Mia (Savor Everyday) said...

Thank you so much, Kristin! You are sweet. :) I appreciate your words of encouragement!

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