Health Editor Kate Morin reflects on week two of the Yoga Challenge!
We Did It: Yin Yoga
The Greatist Team tried a different type of yoga last week, with no warrior II's, boat poses, or headstands (or attempts, at least) in sight.
Unlike most traditional types of yoga, yin poses are held for five (yes, five!) minutes at a time. Made up of mainly sitting and lying poses, each pose relies on gravity to intensify the stretch — no muscle work required. Still, that doesn’t mean we weren’t uncomfortable at times. In fact, Jeni Livingston, our instructor at Body Space Fitness, advised us to push past our comfort zone even to the point of pain.
Pain? Not a word I admittedly wanted to hear in a yoga class. But once we endured five minutes of “lung bench” (a chest opener with the torso propped up on two yoga blocks) followed by the infamous “dragon” pose, I knew exactly what Livingston meant. Positioned in what resembled a low lunge, my hips were forced to stretch in a way — and for an amount of time — I’d never tolerated before. By the third minute, I felt uncomfortable — in a good way. I felt… release.
“It opens up everything,” Livingston, told us. “Physically and emotionally.”
Livingston said it’s common to hold stress in the hips, and hip openers like dragon and pigeon pose may spark an emotional release, too. I embraced this idea, letting the anxiety of boyfriends, bills, and inboxes empty out as gravity let my neck drop and my head hang heavy.
We ended with the “supported bridge” back bend before enjoying a long savasana. I left the class feeling like I was given new legs: I was a bit wobbly and sore, but also felt rejuvenated. The rest of the team had a similar post-yoga experience, feeling slightly sore, stretched, and a little more free of tension in our backs, butts, and legs.
In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang symbolize the interconnection of opposing energy forces (passive and active, still and moving, calm and energized). And so I couldn’t help but think of New York City as our “yang,” and our experience at yin yoga, our, well, “yin.” Even if the busiest of cities, we found a passive workout that did our constantly moving minds and bodies some good.
For more information on yin yoga or to try it out for yourself, head to bodyspacefitness.com.
Have you ever tried yin yoga? Tell us about your experience below!
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Had the opportunity to experience a 2 hours yin yoga class a few Sundays ago and felt so invigorated and refreshed (in that good-tired sense of the experience) afterwards. Was wondering about the "emotions being held in the hips" phrase that I've heard from others. Is it true for both men and women? I asked one teacher and she didn't know if it applied to men. She thought maybe women held emotion is this area due to childbirth. Or I'm thinking maybe there is a relationship to our genital/reproductive region and deeply held emotions. Any thoughts on this often stated relationship?
Thanks Mark for your interest, and a great question. The emotional responses we have in Yin Yoga are due to energetic pathways (meridians/chakras) opening, thus helping to remove blockages we have stored. The energy lines in our hips coincide with the internal organs, and emotions ranging from fear, anger (irritation, frustration, etc), empathy/worry, and decision making. Traumas, physical, emotional, and psychological may be held hidden in the body within the matrix of connective tissue sometimes causing us to feel vulnerable or weepy. Both men and women can experience this in their Yin Yoga practice. Although it can be tangible proof that we are indeed opening, some may not ever experience these feelings at all.
Please make time for yourself.
@JeniLiving is teaching Yin Yoga @BodySpaceNYC on Mondays at 12:30pm