Queen Ginger has been an on-again, off-again yogini for quite some time, but lately, it's been more off. Her blood pressure and back problems have made some of the more aggressive modern yoga practices more painful for her than they are worth, and she often found herself frustrated and disillusioned.
Today, however, she discovered "yin yoga", and could not be happier! It's the perfect path for this time in her life, and she's excited to be able to share it with you! Since many with high blood pressure are encouraged to get more exercise, yin yoga is perfect for us all!
As you probably know, "yin" and "yang" are the opposing energies of "chi". While a discussion of the properties of yin and yang are far beyond the purpose of this blog, for our purposes, "yin" is the more passive, gentle energy, and "yang" is a more active, strong energy.
Most of the modern "commercialized" forms of yoga you hear so much about these days (Bikram, Barkan, ashtanga, etc.) are all very "yang" forms of yoga, designed to strengthen muscles and challenge respiration. Like all exercise, these active forms of yoga cause a temporary rise in blood pressure, and, especially when performed in a super-heated room, can cause some anxiety and difficulty for those with hypertension.
The theory behind yin yoga makes perfect sense for those with hypertension, as well as for anyone with physical limitations that make other forms of exercise difficult. Yin yoga focuses on connective tissue, rather than muscles, so poses are taken slowly, held longer, and released gently. In a well-instructed class, the attention is focused on finding a position that can be held comfortably for the length of the asana, as opposed to correcting students in order to achieve a "perfect" form. Taught correctly, the class is challenging, rejuvenating, and remarkably relaxing!
Here in Houston, Queen Ginger was introduce to yin yoga by Darla Magee, a remarkable teacher with experience teaching many forms of yoga. I've practiced with Darla for years, and have found her to be a most attentive instructor and truly a caring soul. By introducing yin yoga to her beautiful private studio here in the Heights, Darla will bring yoga, exercise, and enlightenment to a whole new realm of individuals who have had trouble finding a sustainable exercise program.
But please don't think this is some "Golden Girls" type geriatric class, with canes and walkers parked at the door! Yin yoga is perfect for preventing injury for those who perform other more strenuous forms of exercise or sports, and people of all ages, shapes, and physical condition will benefit from the stretch to the ligaments, the flow of the chi, and the cleansing of the mind and soul as they reach gently into the deep, long postures. Because the postures are long and stable, the practice is incredibly relaxing, and after the class, it almost feels as though you've had a massage from the inside out! Since Darla's yin classes are available on Sunday afternoon, they are the perfect way to clear your mind and transition from the weekend and prepare for the week ahead!