This week I have been physically working my body, from cardio, to working (massage therapy is physically demanding) Pilates, weight training and barre-fit, I have pushed my body hard. Today, I woke up with intentions of my usual workout of cardio and weights. Although my brain was telling me to go to the gym and work hard, my body was telling me otherwise. So, I took advantage of the 5 pack class that my awesome hubby gifted me and signed up for warm Yin Yoga at one of my favorite local yoga studios.
It was a brisk 30+ degrees this morning, so, as I opened the door to the 89 degree yoga room, I felt like I was in heaven. I quickly settled on my mat with all my props and waited for the instructor to come in and get us into our deep stretches. I was ready to release all the bound up fascia and get some prana (life force) flow in my body.
If you aren’t familiar with different styles of yoga, a yin practice consists of poses that are held between 3-5 minutes. As in all yoga, the breath is intentionally used to deepen the stretch and really ease into the pose, moving the prana into the area being stretched. I find it helpful to visualize the air from my lungs going into the tight areas to bring awareness to areas of holding tension. The visualization can really help you relax and let go of unintentional holding. Today, as I was holding dragon pose for what seemed like an e.t.e.r.n.i.t.y, I found that the deeper my inhale and exhale the more my hips relaxed into the pose. Instead of holding my breath and tensing , forcing my body into a deeper stretch, I met my body where it felt good with a slight discomfort. For an hour we twisted and bent our bodies into a series of poses. All while the instructor reminded us to do what feels good to our body, not what our neighbor is doing. This is something that I have learned over the past few years but didn’t always practice. It is not about bending the farthest or doing headstands (although those are lots of fun). Your yoga practice is a time and space of no competition it’s a time to reflect and nurture yourself. As the class ended with a supported fish pose, I felt my heart opening and feeling lighter. Once again reminded of why I always come back to my mat.
What types of things do you practice for self-care? Do you have a favorite style of yoga? I would love to hear from you.