Observations after Yin Yoga
April 5, 2013.
Had been thinking about re-sampling a kind of Yoga called Yin Yoga. By my own definition of this type of yoga, and what I have learned about it, I would call it a more passive form of yoga. Which is not to say it is easy by any stretch of the imagination. (Ha! Get it? Stretch?) Anyway, Yin yoga holds fewer poses than most yoga sessions, but holds them much longer. Poses can usually be held from a minimum of 2 minutes all the way up to several minutes after. One of the ideas in Yin is to address the muscle and connective tissue at their finer levels. Yin Yoga is effective in addressing the lower half of the body. Luckily, the body as a whole unit can benefit from this form of yoga, as the body is a connective entity. Some of the body structures that are receptive to this idea of yoga are: Connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, bones and joints.
I live about 20 miles south of Boston Ma and it is still newly spring. It is generally windy and cold this time of year, especially at night. But, it was a day close to 60 degrees and myself and my old BMW wanted to get out and ride! I strapped the yoga mat and a bottle of water on the back of the bike and headed out down the road.
The ride into town was amazing. Beautiful weather, traffic is light and I am ahead of schedule as far as class goes. I get into Harvard Sq, Cambridge Ma to laughing look for a parking spot for my motorcycle. Drove around the block many times to find a spot that I would not get towed from. Finally, I just decided to wait and take a 2-hour meter right near the studio. Made my way into the studio with ALL my gear.
Filled out my waiver forms and proceeded downstairs to the lockers. I had: 2 coats. 3 pairs of pants, a big helmet, facemask, a sweatshirt, 2 undershirts, boots, gloves, a yoga mat and a large plastic bottle of water. I crammed all of these things into a tiny locker. Yeah! It all fits!! Deep breath in…..and go class upstairs.
Got into class and took my spot. The practice began very slowly, lying first on our backs. Wonderful I thought, just my speed today. I began to notice the sounds in the room inside and out. One of the prevailing sounds was the regular rumble of the subway train travelling underneath the yoga studio. My first thought as I was lying there was, “Why would you open a yoga studio over the subway? Isn’t that a little distracting?” But then I thought, maybe this is a perfect opportunity to allow my awareness to come back to my practice during this “possible distraction”. If my mind drifts away from my practice, I can allow the periodic rumbling of the train to remind me to gently return my attention to what I am doing.
Throughout the rest of the class, I practiced returning my awareness to the present moment during the sounds and challenging body sensations arising from resting in some of the poses. The class was 90 minutes in length and the time seemed to pass very quickly. I was slightly surprised that the class was over so quick by my perception. Hmm, maybe my mind was more focused on what I was doing than I “thought.”
After class was over I had to take this peaceful feeling with me quickly out the door due to the reality of moving my motorcycle before my parking meter expired. I arrived at my meter with 5 minutes to spare. Perfect, it will take me that long to get my gear on and get myself together. Could be an opportunity indeed to keep that present state of mind on what I am doing and not worry about getting a ticket. Just then, a mini van came flying up behind my space seeing that I was getting ready to leave the parking space. Sigh, okay, now more of a challenge to focus on what I am doing. The gentlemen could clearly see the look on my face of……”yeah, I am not going to rush out of this space for you, it will take a few minutes to get my act together. “ We made eye contact and he shouted out the window: “No rush, take your time.” Ah, another student of mindfulness, thank you sir!
I hopped on the bike and heading out towards the highway. “Can I take this peaceful feeling of observation with me on the highway?”
I soon pulled into the toll area which usually causes a little bit of stress on my motorcycle: Trying to find my money, take off one or both gloves, flipping up my visor of my helmet, switch between first and neutral, handing the money over without dropping it and get myself together and pull away.
This time was different. I managed to smoothly multitask without skipping a beat. I simply removed the emotional component of usual stress associated with this moment. Hmmm, let’s see if I can maintain this for the next 15 miles on the road home.
The wind was very minimal, the air temp was warm for this time of year at night, the traffic was light, and the sun was going down. All of these components helped me maintain the soft focus that I was part of. I quickly settled in behind a large shuttle bus to keep the air from blasting the front of my bike. It’s a basic idea called drafting to keep the air drag from slowly you down. It can be kind of a risky endeavor when following a vehicle so closely especially if that vehicle has to apply its brakes quickly. Being in a present, relaxed state of mind helped me keep focus in that moment.
Pretty amazing things can happen in that present state of awareness. It felt like a symphony of sight, sound, and tactile sensation: I could see the potholes way before I was near them, I could adjust smoothly my reactions to any cars or any other distractions coming my way.
Just about home, I stopped at the convenient store near my house. When I came back to my bike, it would not start. The electric start only made a tiny click. Without reacting, I noticed that I was on a slight hill. I could roll down the hill and jump-start the bike! It worked flawlessly and I was on my way home.
After I pulled into the driveway, it felt like the ride home from town was in the blink of an eye. Time seemed to pass quickly like the yoga class earlier that night. I have
been riding about 27 years with only one minor accident in that time, but it felt like the yoga class made me a better rider that night. Can’t wait to do more research!