• Rachael Sands

The Yin to my Yang

I'm excited to announce that starting in September I will be teaching a new class - Yin Yang Yoga! With no formal training in Yin Yoga I decided it was time to hit the books and soak in as much knowledge as possible.

I'm no complete stranger to yin though, we've met quite a few times between power and vinyasa flows, during chaotic holiday seasons, and times my muscles told me they straight up just didn't want to work that hard today. Yin yoga, for me, has always been a treat after a long week. Like a big fluffy cupcake after a week of eating healthy. It was my "sweets" while vinyasa flows were my boiled chicken.

I've noticed my mind and body naturally wanting to do more yin-like classes and my home practice has gotten pretty cushy (think bolsters, blocks, and blankets). After reading quite a bit into Bernie Clark's book The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga, I've learned that even though I'm in a yang stage of life (age & season), and BECAUSE I'm filled with so much yang energies, my whole self needs a more regular yin practice to find sweet balance. Most of us in the United States are surrounded by the fast-paced, active, masculine yang energies. We could all benefit from a passive, slow, cooling feminine yin yoga practice.

Unlike your typical yang yoga flow classes that focus on the muscular system- strengthening, active stretching, and warming the body... yin yoga goes a little deeper into to the connective tissues- putting stress on the ligaments, bones, and joints so that they may become longer, thicker, and stronger over time.

This is done by following the Three Tattvas of Yin Yoga: (from Bernie Clark)

1. Playing our edges (coming into the pose at an appropriate depth). Edges are not only physical, we have emotional and mental edges too. Honor and notice them.

2. Resolve to Remain Still. "To still the mind, the breath must be calm. To calm the breath, the body must be still. When these conditions have been met, deep awareness is possible"

3. Holding for Time. Yin poses are held anywhere from 3-20 minutes. A deeper held posture does not mean more advanced, in yin, "advanced" means holding for a longer amount of time.

In class, we will explore these yin qualities of our yoga practice. We'll begin with yin poses held for 3-5 minutes each. Aiming to calm the mind with an ocean breath to relax into the body even more. Gradually moving into a more yang-like practice, building strength and vitality. Fluctuating between holding and flowing. Playing with the two opposing energies. We will end class with yin and a guided meditation in savasana.

"The essence of yin is yielding. Yang is about changing the world; yin accepts the world as it is. Neither is better than the other. There are indeed times when it is appropriate and even necessary to change the world; other times it is best to just allow things to unfold. Part of the yin practice is learning this yielding." -Bernie Clark

I'll be teaching this class at two locations in Pittsburgh:

Wednesday evenings 7-8pm at Wind in the Willows Acupuncture (West End) &

Friday evenings 6-7:15pm at Vital Glow Yoga (Bellevue)

See www.sandsflow.com for more info.

Find your balance.

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