Fort Worth

Yin Yoga - What's that??

At Just Be Well, we offer a class with an unusual name: “VINYIN.”  It is a class that combines the warming, yang practice of a VINyasa flow class and the more cooling, passive practice of YIN Yoga.  But really - what is “YIN YOGA”?

Yin Yoga is a style of yoga in much the same way that “hatha” or “vinyasa” or “restorative” is a style of yoga.  Hatha and other muscle-strengthening types of alignment-based yoga are YANG types of yoga, to borrow terminology from the Chinese.  Just as all of life has contrasts between yin and yang (think dark/light, cold/hot, down/up, water/fire, etc), so also does the practice of yoga.

In the earliest depictions of yoga, we see the “yin” aspect of yoga rather than the “yang” aspects of yoga.  In fact, the Yoga Sutras have only 2 sutras which refer to the asana portion of the yoga practice, and both of them refer to a yin ideal: postures were to be sthira (steady) and sukham (comfortable, pleasing).  The heated, yang aspects of yoga postures originated in monastic communities to provide balance to the yin, meditative postures of the practice of yoga.

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As the evolution of yoga progressed, yoga moved from being a spiritual practice (long holds and seated postures for deeper practices/meditation) to become performance art (active dynamic movement in standing postures for strength and health).  Our modern-day version of “Yin yoga” is a melding of Taoist Yoga (Dao Yin) from the early 20th century and the understanding of the meridian energy lines of the body from the Chinese Medicine tradition.

“Yin is a practice of being calm but alert to what is going on inside, so it’s a nice transition from physical movement to meditative stillness.”    -- Paul Grilley

What does the practice of yin yoga look like?  Yin Yoga has very distinct external features, namely:

  • Approach a given pose with an appropriate DEPTH

  • Resolve to remain STILL

  • HOLD the pose for a time

Sounds simple, right??  Well, actually, it IS simple, but “simple” does not mean “easy.”  In the yang forms of yoga, we are only in a given pose for a short period - perhaps as long as 5 breaths.  But in yin yoga, we literally marinate in the pose and pay attention to the flow of sensations that arise. Yin Yoga gives us a chance to learn what sensations are, where they are, whether they are healthy, albeit challenging, or too much. We learn what an “edge” is, which is something that can be missed entirely in our yang practice.  

Yin Yoga teaches us to connect with our bodies and to pay attention to our inner world, whether it is the physical sensations of increased mobility of the connective tissue, or the mental ‘chatter’ that inevitably shows itself when we become still for a period of time.

“Can one desire too much of a good thing?”

--William Shakespeare

A yoga practice that focuses on only one thing can create imbalance.  We crave good things, and creating balance might mean that we learn to crave good things that are different from our favorite things!  Both the yin and yang aspects of our life and our yoga practice deserve to be honored with the same amount of intention. Namaste.

VinYin_Susie Fergus_Fort Worth

Establishing a Home Practice

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Establishing a home practice is one of the most challenging aspects of practicing yoga regularly. While some people might enjoy keeping their practice in the studio under the watchful eye of a trained teacher, others may find that this is just not feasible for their current lifestyle, whether because of a strenuous work schedule, intense travel, or financial restraints.
I have had a home practice in my life ever since I began learning yoga. In fact, it’s how I got started with yoga, and I discovered a few things that might help you establish a home practice, too.


1. Separate skills from habit


Research shows that it takes 24 repetitions to make an activity or choice before it begins to not feel weird. That means that if you’re going to do yoga at home, you will have to do it 24 times before you can even think about not talking yourself out of it! That same research also shows us that you will have to roll out your mat at home for 200 times (that’s TWO HUNDRED!) before it feels automatic! So even if you don’t feel like doing yoga, get in the habit of rolling out the mat for at least 24 times before you even decide whether you can do this or not. Even if you set the timer for 10 minutes of child’s pose (it’s been THAT kind of a day!), go through the motions. You are training your brain to do something new (yoga in this place, at this time of day). The poses that you do or don’t do are not as important as the formation of a new habit.


2. Use props
 

Just as in the studio you are encouraged to use “props,” it’s OK to use them in establishing a home practice.....but I’m not talking about blocks or blankets or bolsters. The props in this portion of your practice are yoga videos. I began my yoga practice by meeting Jason Crandell on the mat every morning for his beginner morning yoga routine onYouTube. At that time in my life, I had NO money, 3 sons to feed, and 3 part-time jobs. If there was anyone on Earth that needed yoga, it was ME! I was determined to first establish a habit, then later I would find the money to get instruction. So every morning I had a yoga date with Jason. To this day, he is my favorite instructor in YogaGlo, and I can hear his voice in his blog posts and social media posts. Whether it’s a free YouTube video or a subscription service like Gaia or YogaGlo, set yourself up for success with the wonderful props when you feel your resolve failing.


3. Reward yourself
 

When you resolve to establish a new habit or routine, go ahead and set up a reward system, too. I promise, you’re going to need it before you’re 24 days in! For me (with part-time jobs and teenage sons to feed), shiny stickers on my calendar were my motivators. And then as I fell in love with my practice and began to love how my body felt after my dates with Jason, I began to reward myself with my own set of yoga blocks, or I signed myself up for a beginner series at the local studio. And the most important reward? On Day 25, put a big “X” on your calendar....a day of REST. Because rest is part of the yoga lifestyle, too.

susie fergus fort worth yoga


4. Redefine “home practice”
 

One of my early motivations for developing a home practice was the cost factor: after all, home yoga = free yoga. But there are other places where you can find free yoga, so take advantage of those! It’s not unusual to find a yoga teacher who offers their yoga classes in the park as a service to the neighborhood or community. When you attend a session on Free Day of Yoga (Labor Day weekend) or at Yoga in the Park, give yourself permission to count it as part of your home practice. After all, the point is to connect with your body and mind daily as part of a spiritual practice. And just like any other “significant other,” your practice benefits from the daily-ness of meeting yourself on the mat as much as your choices of Instagram-worthy poses.


5. Cut yourself some slack
 

“But what if I can’t do it for 24 days straight?” Anyone who has ever stopped eating sugar can tell you that there’s no value in “all or nothing.” You’re going to slip up, you’re going to oversleep, you’re going to get out of your routine. Life Happens! But each day is a new day....and if you choose to establish a yoga habit by rolling out your mat for a goal of 5 days out of 7, then you will meet your 24/200 goal at the time that is right for you! No matter how those shiny stickers are sprinkled on your calendar, they’ll look great, and you’ll feel the satisfaction of a home practice that is just the right fit for you.


Establishing a home practice isn’t so much about the poses you choose as it is about the daily choice you make to meet yourself on your mat. When establishing a new routine, give yourself grace to separate the content of the practice from the habit of it -- you’re sure to meet success that will pay dividends to your health and well-being!

How Does SUP Enhance Your Yoga Practice?

The Benefits of SUP Yoga

5 Reasons SUP + Yoga are the Perfect Marriage

 

1. Increased strength

SUP yoga targets all those little muscles we often forget we have. Rather than focusing on large muscle groups during a practice on the water you will feel all the little stabilizer muscles that are so important for us to find balance not only on the water, but also on land. It is a full body experience. Rather than focusing all in the core or the legs the entire body needs to be involved to maintain the balance on water.

2. increased confidence

Ever held yourself upside down on water? If your answer is not yet this is one of the most exhilarating experiences. Proving to yourself that you are able to complete such a daunting feat builds a sense of confidence you will find few other places. 

3. become a beginner again

No matter how long you have been a yoga practitioner or if this is your first attempt everyone is a beginner on the board. It teaches us where we are lax in our land practice and where our strengths are. For seasoned yogis it is common to find a new appreciation for their practice and for complete beginners it is reassuring to know that they are stronger than they may think.

4. let go of expectations

Few things on the water are predictable. The beauty of practicing on a moving surface is that the practice changes from moment to moment. Whether it is our expectations going in or nature throwing a wave at us to knock us off our feet. The practice on the water teaches us to live in the moment and let go of what we think "should" be or "could" be. We learn to appreciate all that is.

5. find your inner child

It can be hard to find time to have fun or to allow our daily responsibilities to take over. SUP yoga helps to teach us not just to let go but to laugh and enjoy the simplicity of life. Find the same joy falling into the water as you used to while running through the sprinkler on a hot day as a child. Know that sometimes it's okay to let your inner child out to play.

Ready to float & flow?