Power Yoga + Yin Yoga = Peanut Butter & Chocolate

image from smitten kitchen

I was introduced to yin yoga a little over a year ago when I attended the beautiful Rhea‘s class in Cambridge, MA. It was the perfect compliment to my previously only power and vinyasa yoga practice. (And really, separating those out is splitting yogic hairs.)

Anyhow, power yoga and yin yoga were made for each other and the two styles have become the peanut butter and chocolate of my practice. I just gotta have ’em together.

I love my power/vinyasa practice: I love the intensity, the heat, the ability to go upside down and attempt to balance on parts of my body that seem completely insane. I love the predictability and creativity in a power yoga class. The downside of a vinyasa and power practice is that it’s all movement, all the time.  With the possible exception of half-pigeon, most poses are held for no more than 5 breaths and those are are designed to maximize intensity.  I’m not knocking power yoga or vinyasa, it’s what I love and teach, but the gentle stillness of yin has a lot to teach, too.

Yin yoga targets the connective tissue of the body. It is slower paced, maybe 4 or 5 poses on each side, and is usually performed with lots of props: blocks, straps, bolsters, blankets, and towels. It is absolutely scrumptious! I am often more sore after a yin class than a power yoga class due to the deep stretching.

The slower pace of a yin class also allows lots of time for deep breathing, relaxation, meditation and, often, napping. It’s often jokingly said that a yin class needs to come with a warning label: “do not drive, attempt to talk, walk, or operate heavy machinery after class.”  This is seriously yoga-coma-inducing!

If you’ve never tried a yin class before, go try it out! It’s magnificent. Best of all, you don’t need to have any previous yoga experience. EVERYone will benefit from their very first class.

Any one regularly practice (or teach) yin yoga? What do you love about it?

For added fun, here’s my quick yin home practice

Yin at Home
Props: two couch pillows of equal size, two hand or dish towels
Soundtrack: the chillest music you got. I love The Swell Season and Bon Iver.

supported supta baddha konasana (pillow under each knee, 1 rolled towel beneath neck)

knees to chest and rock to table top

cat/cow

child’s pose (pillow under chest and forehead to start. Hold for a few minutes. Remove chest pillow and thread right arm under torso, reaching out to left for shoulder stretch. Can turn right cheek to pillow under head. Eventually unthread and send left arm under to right side)

sphinx (towel under hips bones, pillow under forearms)

table top

roll onto your back

supported fish (pillows or rolled towels under back (the long way) and under neck (the short way), adjusting height as needed so shoulders and chest relax)

hamstring/inner thigh stretch (right knee to chest, loop towel across instep and press foot to ceiling, hold 3-4 minutes.  Switch to right hand, keeping left hip on mat, slowly lower foot our to right, resting on floor on or block. Hold 3-4 minutes)

IT band/outer thigh stretch (bring leg back up to center, sole of foot towards ceiling, switch straps to left hand and slowly lower foot out to the left, supporting on a block. Hold 4-5 minutes)

repeat leg stretches with left leg

gentle twist (with pillow between knees)

savasana (pillows under knees and rolled towel under neck)

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