Get connected to your legs. Ease your mind with the familiarity of repetition. Find a sense of groundedness that gives you a reference point and the courage to rise up into strength and stability.
Wipe the corner of your lip. And, yes, that was you snoring. But, don't worry, your yoga teacher has heard it all before. Well, at least they have if they guide a practice on the lunar side.
Yin-quality practices are no longer on the fringe. Mainstream studios are adding Yin, Yoga Nidra and restorative classes to the schedules, and you may be surprised to find that yogis of all ages, and athletes from other disciplines, love these slow practices. In fact I recently read an article about a corporate gym offering NAP CLASS (yep.)
To day, at all of my yoga retreats restorative yoga, Yin and Nidra have specifically been requested. I expect the same for in my upcoming retreat to Hawaii. A melty, drooly practice will be the perfect compliment to our hikes and excursions. But, just because the lights are low, the movement is slow (or non-existent), and you could do any of these in your jammies, Yin, Nidra and restorative yoga are not all the same.
So where to begin? Well, when it comes to selecting a practice that compliments our cooler side of practices getting familiar with a few basic styles. Restorative yoga, yin, and Yin (with a capital Y) and Nidra are distinctly different practices with unique outcomes. For the most part studios these days are most often offering hybrid classes that bring in the benefits of Yin with the sweetness of restorative yoga, and often it comes with a pairing of meditation and sometimes a more formal offering of Nidra. Here's a quick run down of the differences, benefits, and what you can do to find the right yin to your yang ...
Yin - as a quality of practice.
Yin is the complimentary opposite to Yang. If you consider yang the active, movement based yoga you are familiar with, yin is it's cooler sister. Yang yoga emphasizes muscles, dynamic movement, and building heat. Yin, on the other side, emphasizes bones, tendons, ligaments, fascia and cooler, grounded practices. It can be considered that Yin and Yang are present, to some degree, in every pose.
Yin - as a style.
Yin (with a capital Y) is a style of yoga brought to contemporary yoga by masters including Pauley Zink, Paul Grilley, and Sarah Powers. Sometimes also called Taoist or Chinese Yoga, this style considers the meridians of Traditional Chinese Medicine as a road map, and emphasizes applying stress on joints to affect the bones, ligaments, tendons and fascia. Poses are held for a long period of time and while some poses can feel quite restorative in nature, other Yin poses can be quite intense.
Restorative yoga definitely has yin quality, but unlike the style of Yin, it does not seek to stretch or stress the physical body. Instead props are used to set the body to find ease and release in every pose so that the practitioner can rest and restore. Think about finding a savasana-like experience in every pose!
Yoga Nidra - The Yogi's Sleep
Nap yoga! Not really. But if you peeked into a room of students practicing Nidra you'd likely assume they were all just taking their siesta. Nidra is a guided meditation practice that offers a systematic exploration of relaxation
I love a good foot metaphor. I also love to prove myself wrong. So, go with me for a moment.
I once was told some people are waffles and others are spaghetti. Meaning, some people can organize their life into tidy boxes like butter and syrup in a waffle, while others allow the sauce of their life to spills over all the noodles.
In my life I've been both. There have been times when I felt certain that waffle-like order would solve my problems. And, there are times when I felt allowing my sauce to flow through the difference noodles of life would bring more authenticity. But ultimately I decided chasing the metaphor was fruitless when I understood one thing: I'm human.
So are you. When comparison has you doubting your approach, I offer you these things:
1. Waffles and spaghetti both get messy even with careful planning or none at all.
2. Both can be delicious.
3. Waffle with marinara and spaghetti with syrup are not on the menu.
Whether we find strength in organization or organized-chaos we have the potential to make a royal mess of things. It doesn't matter who you are at some point you've spilt syrup or sauce on your shirt. Maybe your sauce is sticky sweet. Maybe it is savory rich. Most likely it doesn't look exactly like your neighbor's. And, even if their sauce is well contained or spread around, they also have sauce that is theirs to own. At some point we are all going to get messy.
Our yoga practice isn't a system of organizing our life to be problem-proof. Our practice isn't even a bib to prevent the mess. Our practice helps us look at our sauce, without wishing it was someone else's or lambasting ourselves for letting it get all over the place, and greet the clean-up head on with eyes open.
No matter what is well contained or already spilling over in your mind-body journey, you are capable enjoying and cleaning up and moving forward.
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