The Power of Yin
If you work in the corporate world, you may be expected to wear a suit and tie if you're a man, or a dress and maybe even pantyhose (ugh!) if you're a woman. If your company offers casual Fridays, then you might have the opportunity to wear soft, comfy blue jeans and worn-in cowboy boots, sneakers or sandals (yes!). In business, we understand that there is a purpose for both the dressy and casual styles, and wearing each style gives you a different feeling doesn't it? So, now you're probably wondering, what does this have to do with yoga, right?
I chose this analogy because on a higher level, it helps to illustrate the differences between how an active Yang yoga practice and a passive Yin yoga practice make us feel. Both are very beneficial and appropriate for different reasons, and practicing both regularly can bring our bodies into balance.
Active Yang types of practice such as Ashtanga, Bikram, Power and Flow styles are wonderful for building strength and flexibility, and are the most widely practiced types of yoga in the West. Yin yoga postures are more passive and strengthen the connective tissues (fascia, tendons and ligaments) that support and connect our joints and muscles to bone. And like a suit and ties and casual day, Yang and Yin serve different purposes, but they work very well together.
When I started yoga many years ago, I veered toward a Yang-based active practice that I enjoy to this day. But along the way I tended to put too much focus on building strength and flexibility without consideration for my joints. Strains and pains became more frequent until I discovered the benefits of Yin yoga.
Our connective tissue is much less elastic than our muscles and usually is the first area of our bodies to injure, either by accident or overuse. In our 20's, our connective tissue is at its peak, but as we age, this tissue becomes drier and more brittle. Passive Yin postures slowly and gently lengthen and strengthen these tissues to stay supple, prevent injury and allow us to stay active. Yin postures are specifically designed to be held for longer periods of time and can be practiced in a specific sequence to work particular areas of the body. They also can be incorporated into your regular active practice if done first while your muscles are cool. But, for the greatest benefit, it's best to practice a separate Yin sequence on a different day than your active Yang practice. Think of it as cross-training … focusing on different aspects of the body on different days.
Learn more about its benefits of Yin during my upcoming workshop, The Power of Yin: No Pain More Gain on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 10 a.m. during the Austin Yoga Festival. We'll discuss the Yin yoga in-depth, practice a Yin sequence and much more! You'll leave with tools that you can incorporate into your regular yoga practice.
You probably have the Yang practice down well, now discover the power of Yin. Think of it as a casual day!
Day 7 of My Ayurvedic Cleanse: Being Open to Change
It's amazing how powerful old patterns can affect us. On day seven of my ayurvedic cleanse a number of defeating conversations were going through my mind. Here are a few of them … “I've done so well these past six days, don't I deserve a glass of wine?” … “ wow, that steak sure looks good and I don't even like steak” … “after this, I don't 'care if I see another vegetable again”!
This all came about after spending more than seven hours in a car driving to Ft. Davis, Texas for the weekend. Beforehand, I had carefully prepared and packed my meals and herbal supplements, but I wasn't prepared for the temptation I would face later that day. By the time my husband and I arrived at the Limpia Hotel in Ft. Davis, we were both very tired and hungry … not a good place to find yourself when you're trying to eat healthy. Sitting on the porch of the hotel restaurant, my husband and I ate our respective meals … he, a steak and baked potato, and me, my prepared vegetable stir-fry with quinoa. I've always viewed getaways like these as opportunities to indulge and I was feeling a little sorry for myself as I watched him enjoy his meal. Even though I don't like steak, I was longing for a glass of wine.
The longer I sat on that porch, however, the more I became inspired by the amazing sunset. As the conversations in my head began to fade, I started realizing how fortunate I was to be in this natural setting with so much beauty around me. The vast expanse of mountains, trees and flowers surrounding me began to cleanse and soothe my mind and spirit that evening. It was was better than the most expensive glass of Pinot Grigio I could have hoped for and helped shift my thinking from deprivation to gratitude.
During the rest of the weekend, I continued eating my prepared meals, but with much more gratitude in my heart. It wasn't easy finding a microwave oven to heat up my food when I needed one, or socialize with others and being constantly asked why on earth I was doing this cleanse, but the trip was worth it. I had the opportunity to witness some of the most awesome beauty Mother Nature has to offer and the food I ate was the fuel to nourish my body so that I could hike and enjoy the scenery around me. When I arrived home in Austin on Sunday, I was proud of myself for being able to let go of the negativity and be open to the experience. It helped me to realize that I wasn't really deprived at all, but rather, had been given a gift.
My Foray into Ayurvedic Cleansing: Day 4
Day 4 and I'm feeling great!
OK, so yesterday wasn't so good, but I was expecting that … my energy was low and I was more than a little irritable (just ask my husband and our dog). I'm still trying to find balance eating the right amount of food to keep my energy level up, but not overeat. Plus, like other cleansers on this journey, I'm still going about my normal life with all the commitments it entails … teaching yoga, running my business and doing volunteer work. Sometimes mealtimes don't fit into my schedule. I didn't have the energy to do a full yoga practice, but I did fit in a nice nature walk during the afternoon at Pease Park. Just being outside among the trees on a beautiful fall day was cathartic for my soul and by evening, my outlook was brighter.
Surprisingly, after a fitful night of sleep, I awoke with a lot of energy and a positive attitude. Instead of the typical rolled oats for breakfast, I decided to make a smoothie. I've never been much for smoothies, usually opting for something more substantial for breakfast, but it was exactly what I needed and so easy to make. Here's the recipe:
1 C frozen organic berries
1 organic apple
1 C unsweetened almond milk
1 t Stevia powder
2 T organic whey protein
½ t organic vanilla extract
Mix all in a a blender.
A suggestion for this cleanse is to eat at least 3 organic apples a day, and since I was tiring of them already, I decided to throw one into my smoothie. It was great! I had so much energy I decided to take a nice, warm and rigorous yoga class. My high energy level continued for the rest of the day and I was able to accomplish so much more than the day before. Even though I've had a couple of nights craving sweets or a glass of wine, I much prefer having this level of energy than going back to my old eating patterns. So far, the trade-off is worth it