Bringing the yin to the yang

New year, new resolutions? Updating my blog a little more regularly perhaps… I’m just back from five beautiful weeks in South East Asia – a week on the incredibly stunning and incredibly tiny Gili Meno in Indonesia, two weeks teaching a yoga retreat in Bali and a two weeks hanging out in Singapore with my brother, sister-in-law and an ever growing bump that is due to be my nephew next month. I return to what is set to be an intense three months at work, the adrenaline rush that is London, and most importantly, the need (and resolve) to nourish and take care of myself throughout the challenges that lie ahead.

I tried out a couple of different yoga places while in Singapore – one was the Yoga Shala, a cozy little place dedicated entirely to Ashtanga and running mostly Mysore classes and led Primary classes on Fridays. Enticed by their special offer of a week’s unlimited classes for the cost of two standard classes, I also tried out Hom Yoga – a corporate centre offering mostly hot yoga classes. And yes, they had hot Ashtanga. I mean really, in a country that is 31 degrees all year round, do you really need to heat the room even hotter and take people through a 60 min class of Ashtanga? Apparently so.

The best class I did in Hom was a yin yoga class, my first ever experience of it and one that has inspired me to learn and experience more. Done in an unheated room, the class requires students to hold poses for up to five minutes (up to 20 minutes in longer classes) and targets the deeper connective tissues (the deep fascia) and ligaments of the body whereas more ‘yang’ styles of yoga (the more dynamic styles such as Ashtanga) focus on the superficial fascia and muscles. It was 60 minutes of muscle melting pure bliss that could have easily been a two hour class.

I realized how important it is for me to balance my Ashtanga practice with something softer. I’d been to a few restorative yoga classes during the latter part of last year and experienced the deepest relaxation I had probably ever experienced. So much so that I couldn’t really see at the end of one class as we came out of our final relaxation – I actually think that even the tiny muscles that wrap around the cornea and help with focus and sight had relaxed. But I was so relaxed and content that even that didn’t matter. Even within my Ashtanga practice itself I increasingly feel a space opening up for the yin to balance the yang: the time it takes for me to do my sun salutations is getting longer as I set the tone for the rest of my practice; as my muscles get stronger and work better in unison instead of isolation, it is easier to find the softness, to be more economical with effort spent both in body and mind. To be effortless in my effort.

I look forward to exploring this more and posting my thoughts here…

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