Tag Archives: yin yoga

Holiday Forrest Yoga & Yin Yoga Retreat in Paradise, Costa Rica!

I’m thrilled to be leading another retreat at Anamaya Resort in beautiful Montezuma, Costa Rica from Dec. 19-26, 2015. How special to be teaching over Christmas week! I am honored to be spending my holidays with the beautiful people and guests of Anamaya and invite you to join us for week of magic, play, rejuvenation, growth, community, kindness, friendship, and fun! What a better way to end your year than in the paradise setting of Anamaya.

This week I will be teaching my two passions, Forrest Yoga and Yin Yoga! We’ll have energizing, strength-building, and healing Forrest Yoga-inspired Vinyasa classes in the morning, and meditative, healing, grounding Yin Yoga practices at night. There will be meditation offered both morning and evening and a workshop on “Unlocking the Gates,” a revitalizing and prana-moving Forrest Yoga workshop to open the hips, quads, and groins. Ooooh!

Anamaya Resort is a top notch destination featuring incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and Costa Rican cloud forest canopy. Located just above the canopy, the location of Anamaya offers unparalleled views of the coastline, flora, fauna, and our resident animal friends, the howler monkeys, iguanas, birds of prey, and many other incredible species, all right there in front of your eyes. There is an ozonated pool (no chlorine here!), an infrared sauna, hammocks and chaises for napping, and 3 meals daily of the cleanest, freshest, most high-vibe organic food you’ve ever had. I always leave Anamaya inspired to revamp my own meal plan! Anamaya also has a world-class spa for facials, massage, and other mind-body wellness treatments. And the grounds of Anamaya are an epiphany of how we can live in balance with our natural surroundings.

Packages start at $1500 all inclusive for an incredible week in one of the most magical locations on planet earth. Please message me with any questions about this incredible yoga retreat in Costa Rica during the holidays.

http://www.anamayaresort.com/holiday-yoga-retreat/

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Neptune is Transiting My Sun. And, I Need Rest.

neptune-in-piscesToday I was introduced to a concept called the Forer Effect, which in a nutshell says that people have a tendency to believe statements about themselves to be highly accurate, even if said statements could be applied to anyone. The Forer Effect is used to denigrate subjects like astrology, numerology, the Enneagram, etc. as pseudo-science.

As my boyfriend will tell  you, one of my favorite words is “anecdotally.” The Forer Effect doesn’t really explain about anecdotal evidence. This was on my mind as I checked the ephemeris for 2015 and found that transiting Neptune is back on my solar degree. This is the second time in about 8 months this has happened, and I can feel when Neptune is on my sun. I am tired. My brain isn’t so good for organization, clear thoughts, tasks, deadlines. I’m forgetful. Have trouble formulating a coherent or elegant sentence. And my mild dyslexia flares up so I read things like “tonight” and see “Tuesday.” This makes for snafus a-plenty.

Also lately, I have been working seven days a week. It happened sort of by accident during a time when I was worried about money and scheduled more things than I should have, and when I wasn’t being careful, and yah, when Neptune was transiting my sun and I couldn’t keep Tuesday and Thursday straight and ended up with too many commitments, several of which I couldn’t break because they were contractual. So after about a month of this schedule, and Neptune doing its thing, I had to make some room.

So I gave up my beloved Yin Yoga class at Reflections Yoga, a class I have taught for about 3 years. It was the first time Yin was offered at Reflections, and what started as my love for the practice has grown into a very popular class and a beautifully community of practitioners. I just found out today that Reflections found a new teacher for Fridays. Her name is Tatum and she looks lovely and I am certain that everyone will love her class.

The lesson I got from this experience is that sometimes we have to let even beloved and dear things go, because holding on to them is taking more from us than we can give out. And if we try to give from an empty place, it’s no good for anyone. That’s what Ana Forrest calls the “sacrificial whore” and it’s an ugly phrase to express an ugly condition that we sometimes find ourselves in.

Needing rest is REAL. Especially when Neptune is transiting your sun. Working seven days a week, even if one of those days was just teaching one yoga class, has worn me down. And, I’m also going thru something. It’s hard to say what. This is part of the Neptune transit. It’s a time marked by fogginess, confusion, delays. Neptune in mythology rules the seas. Water represents our deepest emotions, and the hidden and mysterious parts of ourselves. It’s also where we are most fluid, most playful, and most adaptable, literally in the flow. To align with the way I’m feeling now, I need more time for quiet, for rest, for being ok with being in an in-between state. When the transit is over, what’s most important will be clear. I really get that, even though I’m not close to knowing what will be revealed, but I really get that this is a process, and letting go, feeling exhausted by the “regular world,” by work and obligations is part of that.

I am proud of the work that I do. I consider myself a hard worker, and very responsible. So to feel this way, that I don’t have the energy for much directed activity, is weird. I’m not used to it. I feel strange saying it, admitting it, which is why it’s safer to do so on my blog, although I have shared this feeling with a few friends who will understand. But I don’t want to be analyzed and questioned and given advice. I want to find my way through on my own.

 

 

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Yin Yoga & Meditation

There’s a lot of reasons to do yin yoga. Yin yoga is an excellent counterpart to more active “yang” vinyasa or other physical practices. It’s great to practice yin yoga when you’re stressed out, over-heated, or for women in their moon cycle. Whenever you have been too yang, yin yoga will help re-balance your energy levels and serve as a tonic to an over-stimulated, over-booked life. Yin yoga can help quiet the mind and heal the body. Like all forms of yoga, yin yoga can help settle the mind by bringing awareness into the subtle realms of breath and energy, but yin in particular is well suited as a preliminary practice to sitting meditation. Why is this so?

Yin yoga helps lengthen and strengthen connective tissue (ligaments, fascia, possibly even bone!) by virtue of its “yin” methodology. The three principles of yin yoga are 1) meet your edge 2) stillness 3) hold for time. Once you meet your first edge in a yin pose, you’ll soak there until your body opens enough to allow you to find your second edge. Then you soak in stillness there, holding for time, until another edge appears, and so on.

The attention to detail it requires to follow the three-step path of yin yoga (find your edge, stillness, hold for time) naturally settles the mind. The breath in yin is used as much to invite space in (breathe into an area that feels stiff or congested) as it is a release (lion’s breath is a yin treat; holding a pose for a long time can sometimes feel claustrophobic and lion’s breath is a great way to release excess energy without moving). As the body cools down and the muscles become relaxed, the body naturally requires less oxygen. The breath can become slower and deeper.

The quality of breath that develops from a yin practice makes it a perfect antecedent to sitting meditation practice. Not only will the joints used in sitting (spine & hips) be open and lubricated (yin yoga practice actually helps create more of the substance, hyaluronic acid, that cushions the joints) but the breath and mind will already be well slowed down. A sitting practice after yin practice can go very deep.

I will be offering a workshop on yin yoga on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 at Reflections Yoga in NYC. The focus of this workshop will be on using yin yoga to prepare the body and mind for meditation.

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Go Deeper With Yin Yoga: A Workshop

I will be leading a Yin Yoga workshop on Thursday, June 7 at Reflections Yoga in New York City.

This two-hour workshop will be a general introduction to the theories behind Yin Yoga, including a basic overview of Traditional Chinese Medicine meridian theory and the corresponding organs, learning about fascia, the connective tissue that literally binds the body together, and how to track emotional and physical sensations that arise over the course of the long-held Yin Yoga poses.

For more information and to register, please view the Reflections website. If you have any questions about the workshop or the practice, please contact me via my “Contact” page.

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What is Yin Yoga?

Shoelace Pose, Yin Yoga

Shoelace pose done in a yin fashion. Also known as Gomuhkasana.

I just completed a teacher training in Yin Yoga, as presented by the wonderfully intelligent and sweet Corina Brenner. While I’d heard of Yin Yoga in the past, I had no idea what it really was until this training. My personal practice has been transformed over just a few days of consistent Yin Yoga practice, and I now see the value and necessity of complementing “yang” vinyasa practice with the quiet, sustained holds of “yin” practice. In this blog post, I will attempt to explain what Yin Yoga is and why it is an important complement to more active, “yang” yoga practice.

Yin Yoga focuses on the connective tissue of the body (ligament, tendon, fascia, and bone). Yin Yoga is not a series of poses; it is rather an approach to practice. You can practice in a “yin fashion” once you understand the basic theory behind Yin Yoga. The basic premise to Yin Yoga is that the body has yin tissue and yang tissue. Yin tissue is bone and connective tissue. In keeping with the Taoist theory at the heart of Yin Yoga, yin tissue is that which is relatively hidden, closer to the core, slow to change, mysterious, cool or cold, and receptive. Yang tissue, or muscle, is closer to the surface, active, dynamic, flexible, and warm or hot.

Exercise is needed to maintain the body’s health and optimum performance. But many people, especially in our Western society, have come to relate the word “exercise” to something rhythmic and repetitive, like running, biking, lifting weights, or cardio workouts on a gym machine. However, to positively affect or “improve” yin tissue, it must be exercised in a yin fashion. Repetition and rhythm, the hallmarks of yang style exercise (and of vinyasa yoga!), would injure yin tissue. Just think what would happen if, in an attempt to straighten or “improve” your crooked teeth, you wiggled them back and forth. Eventually they’d fall out! To correct tooth alignment, steady sustained pressure is applied through braces. This is yin methodology applied to yin tissue (bone). So yin exercise for yin tissue is long, sustained holds with no movement. Likewise, yang tissue needs yang methodology to be exercised correctly: muscles respond to repetitive, rhythmic stress, like weight lifting, running, or vinyasa yoga, to become stronger.

Yang tissue, when exercised, becomes stronger. Yin tissue, when exercised appropriately, responds by becoming longer and more pliable over time. Since yin tissue comprises our joints and connective tissue, Yin Yoga improves and benefits the joints and fascia, keeping the body pliable, fluid, and able to move through a healthy range of motion. Range of motion and flexibility is influenced far more by yin body tissue than yang body tissue. Through aging, injury, or simply neglect, muscle atrophies (becomes weaker), while connective tissue becomes tighter, more rigid, and brittle (a condition known as “contracture”).

To maintain optimum health and be holistically balanced, exercise should include yin technique for yin tissue. This makes so much sense, but we are not taught to think about “exercising” our joints and connective tissue in an appropriate way. In the microcosm of the body, the connective tissue is equivalent to skeletons in the closet: don’t talk about it, don’t think about it, and just let it be, hopefully it will all work out in your favor. I’ll come back to this metaphor later, because Yin Yoga practice will help you clear out the skeletons, while keeping your connective tissue healthy and pliable.

An autopsy of the pectoral muscles of the chest showing the fascia.

So we’ve established the difference between yin and yang body tissue, and yin and yang methods of appropriate exercise. Yin Yoga adapts known yoga poses and performs them in a “yin fashion” to target specific connective tissue as well as meridians (energetic pathways of the body, a concept from Traditional Chinese Medicine) that correspond to the vital organs of the body. Yin Yoga works not just on the physical level (bone, tendon, ligament, and fascia) but also on the energetic level, by stimulating the meridian pathways of the body. How does it do this?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and yoga, energy is said to move through the body along channels called meridians (TCM) or nadis (yoga). These pathways exist in the fascia! Fascia is a fibrous substance that can be thought of like a cobweb that encases and connects the entire body.  It is the substance that creates (or perhaps it is the negative space in the fascia; this is a theory in development) the meridians/nadis. So, by stimulating the fascia, we directly stimulate the meridians/nadis of the body.

Yin Yoga has taken this even further, and developed poses to specifically target the meridians which correspond to the vital organs (heart, liver, kidney, lung, spleen, intestines, etc.). When you hold a Yin Yoga pose, you stimulate the meridian pathways of the body by squeezing and stretching the body. You also appropriately stress connective tissue which increases the production of Hylauronic Acid (HA) in the body.

HA is a viscous substance with the consistency of  motor oil that draws fluid towards it (approximately 6,000x its weight). HA is the material that makes up your eyeballs, synovial fluid (the fluid in your joints) and it’s also thought to be the substance that actually creates meridian pathways in the fascia. So by doing Yin Yoga, you increase the production of HA in the body by appropriately exercising yin tissue. Increased HA means increased production of synovial fluid and increased transmission of energy signals throughout the body via the fascia network.

It’s pretty clear, then, that Yin Yoga positively affects the body, especially these “hidden” (yin) layers of tissue that are rarely considered by the average exerciser.

In four days of daily Yin Yoga practice, I noticed a definitive change not only in my flexibility (in particular my hips), but overall I felt “jucier,” an adjective used frequently by yoga practitioners to describe that feeling of your body being well lubricated at the joints, where movement is not just easy and free but also enjoyable and easily expressed. My first vinyasa yoga practice after practicing Yin for four days straight was an epiphany. I floated into arm balances and everything felt less effortfull. That’s not to say I didn’t heat up or sweat (I did!), but I felt that my body was working more efficiently. I’ve also noticed a deepening and easing in my breathing, an increase in my energy, a shift towards better food choices, and my joints have been”popping” more, which isn’t a bad thing. Joints pop for two main reasons. The one I’ll explain here is called “joint fixation” and occurs when the fluid in the joint causes two bones to suction against one another, like how a cold glass sticks to on a coaster on a hot day. The fluid forms a vacuum seal in the joint, and when the seal is broken, you hear a popping sound. There’s nothing wrong or bad about this, and the increased popping of my joints is proof to me there is more fluid in my joints, a result of Yin Yoga practice!

Oh, about those skeletons in the closet. Just because Yin Yoga practice is relatively still and incorporates little movement (this is already a very long blog post and I have barely described how Yin Yoga is done!) doesn’t mean it’s not intense. On the contrary, it’s very intense! My teacher Corina offers Yin classes at her studio in Philadelphia called “Yintensity.” Yah. Yin Yoga will challenge you in ways you’ve never been challenged before. Going deeper into body tissue doesn’t always feel great, and being still with the body for long periods of time brings up all kinds of thoughts and feelings. Another benefit to Yin Yoga practice is learning how to experience difficult sensations, not just endure them! Experience all life has to offer, even the stuff that makes your brain scream “I want to run away  now!!!!” I will try to elaborate on the actual physical practice of Yin Yoga, as well as the emotional aspects, in another post. So the skeletons will have to stay in the closet a little longer for now…

If you’ve never practiced Yin Yoga, I highly recommend it! Having been brought into this lineage of master teachers (that’s for another blog post too), I am now convinced that for optimum health, we must address our yin tissue as well as our yang tissue!

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