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!