Friday, July 6, 2012

Don't Call it Yin Yoga

For my final practicum class for my teacher training, I'm required to lead a "Yin Yoga" class. Although I appreciate the benefits of a practice where you will hold postures for an extended period of time, I have a problem with the term "Yin Yoga" for a couple reasons.

I believe that all true yoga is a balancing of both male and female energies and likewise, the qualities of tension and relaxation, or, Sthira and Sukha (read a great article on this concept here). Even in a vigorous practice such as Ashtanga we are always balancing on the edge of strong muscular stability and finding ease and lightness in the postures. Also, yoga is an Indian tradition so the use of Chinese concepts and terminology just causes confusion and division. I do however think that it's beneficial for people with limited strength or mobility to practice these longer held postures, and helpful for all practicioners to occassionally slow down and experience the relaxation and opening that can occur in what I like to call simply, "Slow Yoga" or, Ashtanga ½ Speed Primary ;-)

Here's what I'll be presenting later today:

Throughout this sequence be mindful of your breath, keeping it steady and deep. We don't practice any specific form of pranayama or breath control here, but we can still utilize the breath to help us to journey deeper into the held postures, staying conscious of not holding the breath and observing when it has become shallow or forced, perhaps signaling that you've gone farther than is comfortable into a posture.

We'll be holding the poses for 2-5 minutes, so it's good practice to find your way into the posture slowly and mindfully, gradually approaching your edge, and then either venturing deeper into it, or backing off—listening to your body and allowing your inner teacher to guide you.

1. Start with 5 mini sun salutations
  • Virasana
  • Inhale, arms overhead lifting the buttocks, lengthening the spine
  • Exhale, folding at the hips, sit buttocks back on heels, arms stretched forward on mat
  • Inhale, use hands on mat to pull hips up, shoulders over wrists, hips over heels
  • Still inhaling, lift tailbone and head, performing an easy backbend (cow pose)
  • Exhale, push mat away, arching spine, broadening shoulders (cat pose)
  • Repeat Cat/Cow 4 more times
  • Exhale, drop hips back, relax into child's pose
  • Inhale, lift hips, raising arms overhead, hands meeting in prayer
  • Exhale, sit back in Virasana, hands in Anjali mudra (heart centre)
2. Paschimottanasana 
3. Reverse Tabletop, or Purvottanasana (hold only long enough to feel release in spine) 
4. Janu Sirsasana A 
5. Marichyasana C, or Sage pose with twist 
6. Supta Virasana, or Ustrasana AKA Camel Pose 
7. Baddha Konasana
8. Lift hips with legs in Baddha Konasana, or do a few windshield wipers to release tension
9. Supta Pandangusthasana with strap. Lie down, perform leg raises with strap, first straight up, then out to side, then across opposite leg
10. Supine twists; bring knees into chest, then allow them to fall to each side 
11. Supported Matsyasana
12. Viparita Karani, or "Legs up the Wall" 
13. Savasana 
14. Close in Sukhasana
Remember, take it easy, take it slow, and enjoy!