In the spirit of trying new things during this yoga challenge, and in the spirit of being incredibly strapped for cash during tax time, I stumbled upon something for which I deserve no credit for “finding” since it was the offering at my free weekly fix at my local lululemon: Yin Yoga. I’d never heard of Yin Yoga and — after seven years of meandering through every studio, community, free, and gym-membership-required class I could reasonably gain access to — I thought that was a little odd. Since first impressions generally constitute the sum total of my “do I like this?” research, I was lucky to be guided by guest instructor Dido Nydick, in whom I instantly instilled trust due almost entirely to her National Geographic-worthy accent. (Where is that FROM? British, but only vaguely; relaxing, but not deep-economics-lecture-sleep inducing. Bottle it, Nydick. You’ll make a million.)
Nydick explained Yin Yoga to us from the outset in much the way it is described on her web page as a practice for flexibility, endurance and stress release consisting of poses with relaxed muscles that are each sustained for 3-10 minutes. Due to time constraints, we held each pose for three minutes. At the beginning of the class I mentally scoffed thinking, “Since when is an hour constrained time?” That was until I attempted to get in to the first configuration and after two minutes and forty-five seconds of cramped graceless contorting followed by a mere fifteen seconds of blissful restorative stretching (combined, I’ll be honest, with mental whining: “What!? I just got here?”), I realized three minutes were in fact constrained time after all.
By the time she explained that tightness in the IT band (something WebMD’s time-sucking combination of foam-rolling, pliable ice applying, and ibuprofen hasn’t fixed . . .yet) is aligned along the Chinese meridian with the gall bladder and indicates uncertainty about one’s own life path, I was hooked. You mean the pop-clicking dull-aching hip pain unassuaged by the powers vested in me by WebMD could be attributable to the fact that my life’s paved road feels more like a jungle bushwhacking excursion lately? Yinteresting, indeed.
She indicated before class started that we’d spend the entire time lying around on the ground and leave feeling totally rejuvenated and refreshed. There was a smattering of knowing chuckles not unlike what you hear from the Pilates housewives when the instructor quips: “It can’t hurt you if you’re hardly moving right? Am I right, ladies?” (Take it from someone who has been mindlessly clipped-in on a road bike that slowed to a stop. It actually CAN hurt you if, and sometimes it’s BECAUSE you’re hardly moving.) It’s not that the Yin Yoga hurt — although we did discuss the difference between “pain” and “discomfort” — but rather that there was a profoundly perceivable effect even if, to the window-leering passers-by, we did look like a bunch of mat potatoes. To summarize: Lay around; reap benefits.
Cheers to that.*
(*British, but only vaguely.)