Okay, I’ll be honest, today’s new thing was a bit of an accident. I had planned to go to a hot yoga class at noon, but when I woke up early, I thought I may as well go to the 9:30 class. Seemed like a reasonable idea to get it out of the way… So, I legged it to the studio, and settled onto my mat. I was proud that I seemed to be tolerating the heat well, something that I’ve been working on over the last couple of weeks, especially after the perma-chill of Ireland. Then, it all became perfectly clear – I had read the schedule incorrectly (stupid details), and it was a 90 minute Yin Yoga class, which is held in reduced heat, instead of a hot yoga class. Aw, crap.
Now, in all the years that I have been practicing yoga on and off, I have never attended a Yin Yoga class before. I wasn’t really even sure what it was. So, rather than walking home and basically having to turn around to come right back, I decided to stay and give it a go. After all, it was a good studio, and the class was being led by one of my favourite instructors. How bad could it be?
I mean, when you are expecting a class that is going to make faucets out of parts of your body you didn’t even know could sweat, to end up doing a series of slow, deep release poses that barely make your brow glisten is a bit of a let-down. I know it sounds crazy, but I think you can actually get addicted to the extreme puddles of insanity that is hot yoga. But more on that later.
Back in the Yin Yoga class, I was first of all struck by the fact that it was nearly full at 9:30 am on a Friday. After so many years in the cheese and caffeine-fueled rat race, I had forgotten that a lot of people work shifts. I was secondly surprised that everyone had blankets and cushions with them. Props? WTF? I mean, we use the odd yoga brick or band in hot yoga, but both are strictly optional. I felt suddenly ill-equipped to get through the next 90 minutes of my life.
Then, we proceeded to hold each pose for at least 5 minutes. For someone with Shiny Object Syndrome, that is a freaking lifetime! You’re supposed to release all kinds of thoughts that may come into your head, keeping a blank slate to sort of meditate and soften everything up… Honestly, it’d be easier for me to climb Everest than to clear the chaotic clutter of random thoughts that enters my mind. For something seemingly so simple, where you are encouraged to get comfortable with each pose since you will be holding it for so long, it proved to be much more challenging than I expected.
After the class, I read the official description of Yin Yoga on the studio’s website, as I do with most forms of instruction, and it mentions that it’s supposed to open the body, peeling away layers of stress using a gentle approach to really get into the connective tissue, but most importantly, ‘It is a great compliment to your regular practice’. Yep, not really a practice unto itself, but more of a way to squeeze in some additional stretching for extra credit. Like I needed that. But, I have to say, I did feel more supple and open after the class, so there is undoubtedly something to it. And I did stick around for the hot yoga class afterwards, in case you were wondering, because I am a sucker for punishment. All I can hope is that I’ll be able to haul my extra elongated carcass out of bed tomorrow, because parts of my body are aching already. That can’t be good…
On a side note, have you ever wondered how the Downward Dog posture got its name? And why a dog’s form always seems superior to that of a cat’s? And why we, as humans, are trying to emulate animals in the first place?? There’s probably a good reason we don’t see a lot of pigeons smoking or drinking lattes… Oops, sorry, inside voice leaking out again… I must be delirious. Namaste.