I went to my first Yin Yoga class yesterday afternoon. I had heard that Yin was suppose to be an arthritic yoga and since you hold postures for 5 minutes you are really working through the connective tissues while pushing fluid through the joints. I took it at a heated facility and didn’t really have any expectations when I arrived. However, I had heard from someone very close to me that when they tried it they thought it was painful. I don’t want pain and don’t believe in the “no pain, no gain” philosophy but I still wanted to try it.
I arrived early since this was my first time I wanted to talk to them first and just introduce myself. I asked if there was anything special I should know and she said this is a wonderful way to end a work day, it is deep mediation and very relaxing but won’t be hot. I was kind of disappointed to hear that part but not every yoga practice has to be hot. I went in and put my mat and towel up near the front, the temp gauge was reading 80 degrees and it was not warm. The instructor was placing his mat near me and turned out the lights. There was soft music playing and as people meandered in I just sat on my mat allowing the day I had to melt away into darkness. One woman spoke up and said she forgot her water and towel would she be ok and he assured her she was fine. He even made a comment that was similar to we will basically not even be breathing in this class.
He was ready to introduce himself and introduce Yin yoga. He mentioned it is a Chinese yoga and works the joints, muscles and soft tissues similarly to acupuncture. This intrigued me because I have always wanted to try acupuncture for my joint pain but just haven’t done it yet. He explained that we would have our eyes closed the entire hour and do not open your eyes, this is part of the practice. Also, we would be holding postures for up to 5 minutes and we needed to stay soft, silent and still the entire time. This in itself is a practice. Many people have a hard time staying in one position not moving anything for 1 minute never mind 5. The idea of just sitting doesn’t sound hard and it’s not but the practice of staying completely still, staying present in the moment and feeling the sensations your body is having while in these postures can be difficult.
I didn’t have a problem staying quiet, in fact I have spent the last 9 months just working on getting into savasana and staying perfectly still for up to 30 minutes. This is a practice and posture just like any other posture. We have people in our class that cannot do this for 2 minutes so I didn’t know what to expect at this Yin yoga. Here is the thing, my eyes were closed the entire time so as far as I was concerned I was the only one in there. I have no idea what anyone else was doing and didn’t care. He took us through some pretty intense hip compressions and you could really feel the sensations when you came out of the postures. Nothing hurt, sitting or lying in the same position can get uncomfortable but you have to work through that.
This yoga is perfect for someone starting out because part of the self-consciousness is wondering if people are looking at you or you are looking at others judging yourself. With your eyes closed mark that obstacle off, there are no names to the postures so he doesn’t say things like move into your downward facing dog. If you don’t even know what that means it can be intimidating. He tells you exactly what he wants from you without names so you can’t get confused, second obstacle done, mark it off your list. Finally, Yin is not practiced in heat, it can be warm but it won’t be hot so no worries if you don’t like the heat. Third obstacle done, there is no reason not to try it.
If you have a regular practice of any yoga this is a nice complement because it works on the silent and still as well as the joints and it just feels good. I do think that this type of class should be a 2 hour class. An hour in you are just starting to warm up and could probably start to push more and get deeper into those tissues. I say try it.