Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

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Archive for the ‘Yoga/PiYo/Pilates’ Category

Yoga Quotes

Posted by terrepruitt on April 5, 2021

So recently I participated in a discussion on Facebook that had me thinking of a few of my favorite yoga quotes.  I thought I would share them here.

The last one really is my favorite.

Yoga is not for the flexible. It’s for the willing.” -I don’t know

Yoga is not about touching your toes. It is what you learn on the way down.” – Jigar Gor

We don’t use the body to get into a pose, we use the pose to get into the body.”-I don’t know

People often ask me what they can do to “get into” a specific pose and the best way to learn how to do a specific pose is to DO the specific pose to the best of your ability.  It is a practice.


Do you have any favorite yoga quotes?  Do you have any favorite quotes about one of your hobbies or practices?  Please share.
 

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

A Few Ways To Use Yoga Blocks

Posted by terrepruitt on February 15, 2021

When I taught yoga in person, I taught at places that did not have props. I feel it is perfectly fine to not use props while doing Hatha Yoga, in fact, I think sometimes it is better not to have them, but sometimes it is nice to use them. Whether you use them or not could depend on what you want to get out of your practice or in our case we didn’t have them. What we used as a prop was a chair. There are a lot things that can be used as substitutes for yoga props. But wait, what is a yoga prop? There are several common yoga props and now-a-days with yoga being a multi-million dollar business there are hundreds of yoga props you can purchase. The ones I think of as “common” yoga props besides a yoga mat itself are yoga blankets, yoga blocks, a bolster, a strap, and an eye pillow. In this post I am doing to show you some ways you can use a yoga block.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia online, San Jose Virtual classes, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, Nia Technique, Yin Yoga, stretch classes, online exercise, Zoom classes, virtual yoga, City of San Jose online exercise, live classes via ZoomOne way you can think of the block is as something to “bring up the floor” and/or something to help support you. There are various types of yoga blocks and I am aware of two sizes, but there may be more. When you go shop for a set of yoga blocks (yes, you usually will want to have two) you will want to think about what you are going to use them for, this will help you decide the size and the material.

Once you decide on which ones to get you will notice that they have three “levels”; high, medium, and low. In some of the photos I am demonstrating two of the levels in one picture. You may also notice that my hand it not always in the correct position – if I were actually doing yoga – because I am using a remote to take pictures. And in some, yes, I cut off my head because it is about the blocks.

 

 

In a lunge, a triangle. and extended side angle you can see how it can be used to “bring up the floor”.https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50947969378_643da99045_b.jpg

A block can be used to rest your head in a wide angle forward fold or a child’s pose.

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A block can help with alignment of the hips in a pigeon by supporting the hip/butt of the bent leg from underneath or help with a stretch by support the hips in a bridge.

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Blocks can be used (remember there are different levels) to help support knees in a bound angle. In this pose you can not only change the levels of the blocks but the placement . . . they can be closer to the hips to allow the knees to be higher, closer to the knees allowing for a more intense stretch in the inner thighs, or anywhere along the leg. A block can also support your knees in a supine twist. This helps when the knees can’t reach the floor and allows the shoulders to stay connected with the earth.

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Blocks can help raise the shoulders in a Downward Facing Dog. They can also bring up the floor and sometimes be higher than your heels in a camel. Again . . . remember blocks have three different levels that can be used.

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Some people like to sit on them to raise the hips in sukhasana or maybe even straddle a block for Thunderbolt (not pictured). And there is always something like a supported fish or shavasana.

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There are many, many, many ways to use blocks, this is just a small sample, and with many of these a bolster can be substitute. If you don’t have blocks sometimes a pillow or a towel can be used. A small sturdy box might work too, it really depends on what pose it is being used for.  With teaching classes online many people have the opportunity to use their own yoga props or things around the house.

I like to teach and practice the idea that yoga is not really done to get into a pose in a specific way, it is practiced to sense the body.  The body may never get into the pose as it was supposedly “supposed” to be, but we can practice with intent and gain many benefits along the way.

Do you use yoga blocks in your practice?

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Pop-Up Vs Pop-In And A Little Yin Yoga

Posted by terrepruitt on November 19, 2020

Sometimes the day escapes me. I am not going out, but with all of the stuff happening online I am doing a lot of exploring of additional tools to use to make class registration automated, I am doing tests on Zoom for different ways to bring classes to students, I am having to move and rearrange our furniture on a daily basis . . . so a lot of time-consuming stuff. Not complaining, but explaining . . . explaining why I can’t keep up with my own self-imposed posting schedule. I should have posted this yesterday since I am offering a Pop-Up Class tomorrow (Friday, Nov. 20, 2020). This post has a dual purpose, to explain the difference between a Pop-UP and Pop-IN and to expound a bit on Yin Yoga.

POP-UP VS POP-IN

What is a Pop-Up Class? For me, it is a class that is not on my regular schedule. In many cases with many different things a Pop-Up can happen rather quickly – it pops up – but for me, I am usually talking about it a couple days in advance so it is not a quick spur of the moment thing, but it is not a regularly scheduled thing.

Now, the Pop-UP is different than the Pop-In. The pop-in is quick (under 30 minute). So far we have had three pop-ins where we reviewed katas in a song from a Nia routine and then danced the song. It isn’t something where there is the structure of a regular Nia class (or yoga class or stretch class). It is quick – you can just pop-in. I have ideas to do other type of pop-ins maybe a quick stretch or a yoga pose or two, but we will see. A Pop-UP is a class . . . with the actual class structure so popping in and out is not advised.

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Yin Yoga has long holds in order to affect the tissue involved. It is not about the muscle but about the connective tissue. Since the connective tissue is not as elastic as muscles it take a bit longer to effect, AT LEAST a minute. When introducing people to Yin Yoga I generally will not hold most poses but for a few seconds over a minute.

In addition to the four Tattvas of Yin Yoga another very important thing to remember is to get out of the poses SLOWLY. In some cases if you feel the pose is too much, it could be just a simple matter of backing off, not getting out of the pose . . . if that doesn’t work and you feel you need to get out of the pose you must do it slowly. When instructing I allow for a transitional period and that could be just as long as the hold. Think of it like when you sit for a long time and how it might not work to jump up, ya gotta ease into standing or repositioning yourself. That is the same with Yin . . . you are in a pose for a long time so it requires a long time to get out of it. If you need to get out of a pose before the instructors instructs the class to do so, do it slowly just as if the instructor is walking you through the transition.

Some of the poses we do in Yin Yoga are similar to the poses in yang yoga. I have probably mentioned how I used to be so frustrated that the Yin Yoga poses had different names then the Hatha yoga poses even though they are “the same” . . . but then I learned they are not the same. Yin Yoga instructors may even use the other name (non Yin) to help you get into the pose, but the intent is different. In yang yoga the focus is stretching and strengthening muscle but in Yin the intent is to affect the connective tissue and move the Qi. But so many people ask about Yin Poses I am going to say here – just to give people an idea – that we do poses similar to pigeon, sphinx, bound angle, and extended child’s pose, to name a few.  Most Yin poses are done on the floor, so it is not as if you are going to be holding a Warrior II for five minutes.

Additionally, as a reminder Yin Yoga is not Restorative Yoga.  Yin may be restorative like all yoga can be restorative, but it is not Restorative Yoga.  Restorative Yoga is about relaxing and involves a lot of lying around.  Yin is not about relaxing although it does require the muscles to relax.

Well, a really good way to see what Yin Yoga is like is to try it.  For details regarding the Pop-Up Yin Yoga Class on Friday, November 20, 2020 please go to my website.  Maybe I will see you there!  (Update 11.28.20:  This class has already occurred, but do check my site because we plan on doing more because they are so FUN!)

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Vrksanana / Tree Pose

Posted by terrepruitt on April 27, 2020

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFit, City of San Jose Exercise Classes, Cambrian Yoga & Cardio Dance, CYCD, Yin Yoga, online exercise, Zoom classes, virtual yogaEven if you don’t practice yoga you are probably familiar with this pose. It is a pose that is seen often . . . everywhere. I mean, people that do yoga and travel will take a picture of themselves doing this pose in front of famous monuments/scenery. It seems like any type of figure that is made will have this pose as one of its choices. I would say this is a “common” yoga pose. And as with most “common” yoga asana you will see modifications of it. Tree pose is a standing balance pose. There are many balance poses that are on two feet, there are even some that are on hands and knees, just hands, or just knees, but we tend to think of standing balance poses as being on one leg. In my yoga classes, especially the gentle yoga classes, I remind my students that they don’t have to take their foot off the ground when practicing a standing balance pose. In the gentle yoga classes we often have chairs so that people can hold on if they feel the need to when they take their foot off the ground. One can use a chair, a wall, a table – anything that gives them security in knowing they have something to steady themselves if need be.

Vrksanana (Tree Pose)

To do this asana we start in mountain pose. We keep the spine lengthening and straight (neutral) for the entire pose. With a tall spine shift the weight to the right foot. Rotate the left thigh out, away from the body, let the left knee and toes point out to the left. Then bring the left heel up onto the inner ankle of the right leg/foot. If you can, bring your hands to prayer position in front of your heart center. If this feels like enough of a challenge to your balance, then stay for a few breaths then come back to mountain and repeat on the other side. If you feel you can, lift your left foot higher up on your right leg, letting the left toes point DOWN. Some may even grab the left foot and put the heel at the groin with the foot along the upper inner thigh and the toes pointing down.  The foot can go anywhere along the supporting leg (it is recommended to NOT have the heel press into the side of the knee of the supporting leg). If at any time the left knee starts to point forward lower the foot until you have the knee point directly to the left and allowing for the stretch in the inner thigh.

Put your hands wherever it best supports you in the pose. Some people like to have their hands in prayer position at heart center. Some people like their arms up with their hands over their head and facing each other. Some people like their arms to be out. When arms are lifted whether they are up or out, the shoulders need to remain relaxed. I remind my students that they are trees and their arms are branches and they can go wherever is best for them.

The supporting foot’s toes are not gripping. The foot is relaxed allow the toes to be like roots spreading out and giving support.

As with all balance poses looking at one spot can help steady you. Also breathing is key. Holding the breath may happen, but breathing is what will allow the pose to be held – so breathe.

Remember to do both sides. Also remember that, while our sides may have been created equally, they do not function the same so just honor each side and see what it can do.

Balance poses require concentration so the idea is if you are having trouble concentrating try doing a balance pose to help your mind focus. But remember to be safe and have a chair or wall nearby if need be. This pose helps strengthen legs and feet and may even help calm the nerves. If you sense an inner thigh stretch then you are getting some flexibility in the inner thigh and hip joint.

Do you include Vrksanana in your yoga practice?  Have you seen this pose before even if you don’t practice yoga?

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A Gentle Yoga Routine

Posted by terrepruitt on March 16, 2020

So dang it!  We are in a lock down.  The county has directed everyone to stay home.  So that means no classes.  No Yin Yoga, no gentle yoga, no Nia, and no stretch.  Hopefully this will really “flatten the curve” as they are saying and keep this from getting worse.  I know that this is difficult.  I am just going to share a yoga routine here to perhaps motivate someone into moving.  I created it with my students in mind.  So I did not add a lot of instruction.  Each pose does not have a “how to”, some of them just have some of the cues I give during class.  The minimal cues are to help spark their memory so they can do the pose.  I know many people need or want pictures, but here is what we have for now.

Anyone is encouraged to contact me if you have questions regarding this little routine.  As I said, it was created with my students in mind and they should understand it because it is standard stuff we do all the time.

It should take about an hour, including 10 minutes of shavasana.  The poses are to be held either four breaths (**) or three (*).  Some of the poses are in a sequence done more than once.

Again, if you want to do it and have questions just ask.

 

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Namaste.

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Yin Yoga Is

Posted by terrepruitt on February 17, 2020

Not too long ago I received a copy of the magazine “Yoga Journal” and was excited to see an article in it about Yin Yoga. It presented Yin Yoga in the light that I was taught. It separated Yin Yoga from Restorative Yoga. It mentioned some science even as to why Yin Yoga is important, so not just talk about energy and meridians, but something that could be measured and shown to those that really need to see some science behind yoga. I will share that post later. Right now I just wanted to do something quick to help give people a quick idea of what Yin Yoga is. When I tell people that I teach Yin Yoga their first question is, “What is Yin Yoga?” This is just a quick bulleted list to help answer that question.

• Yin Yoga is a passive practice.Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFit, City of San Jose Exercise Classes, Cambrian Yoga & Cardio Dance, CYCD, Yin Yoga

• Yin Yoga has LONG holds.

• Yin Yoga is about connective tissue and meridians.

• Yin Yoga is about being in a pose and not using muscle to get into a pose.

• Yin Yoga is not “Restorative Yoga.”

• Yin Yoga has poses that may seem familiar, but the hold is longer and therefore the intent is different.

• Yin Yoga is primarily an on-the-floor (seated, lying prone, or supine) practice.

• Yin is a cooling practice.

• Yin Yoga is the counter practice to a yang practice.

• Yin Yoga is a still practice.

In some of my previous posts regarding Yin Yoga, I have addressed some of these points in more detail, but in addition to a post with the information from the Yoga Journal article, I might just do a post expounding on each bullet point.  We will see.

What do you think?  Have you ever taken a Yin Yoga class?

Posted in Yin Yoga | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

#AYogaPoseADay

Posted by terrepruitt on January 27, 2020

Last week I asked my Tuesday yoga class if anyone would be interested in trying a yoga pose a day. I clarified that the idea was for me to just text or e-mail a pose a day. There wouldn’t be any instructions or anything. I asked them to either text or e-mail me if they wanted to participate and that I would send the pose the way they requested. A few of them were interested. So the following day I sent out a pose. Then I realized that I had written a post on a few poses and I thought that I could include that in the text and e-mail just to get us started. I would send the link with the first few. I hadn’t looked up all of the posts that I had written regarding asana but I found a back bend post that had links to posts about back bends so I could include those links with the text/e-mail. I haven’t posted about a lot of poses, but tonight I did look through to see what I had done. We will have a few more poses that can have posts attached to them, but the idea was just to send out a quick idea, “Hey, today do xxxx.” I also extended the invitation to my Thursday yoga class.  It has been fun so far.

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So far we have done:

01.22.20 – Bound Angle
01.23.20 – Upward Salute (Urdhva Hastasana)
01.24.20 – Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
01.25.20 – Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
01.26.20 – Cobra (Bhujangasana)
01.27.20 – Upward dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
01.28.20 – Stork (oh, this is a spoiler 🙂 )

I had been tweeting it, but not all posts have a picture so my gravatar of me and Nessa was being posted so I stopped tweeting because I hadn’t noticed the way to keep that from posting. I was using #AYogaPoseADay. Tweeting could be something I keep up with now that I see I CAN keep the picture from posting by deleting the preview. I mean Nessa is a cutie, but I understand it gets annoying when every tweet has a picture of her and I. And, as I said, not every #AYogaPoseADay will have a post so that will be good.

I love finding simple ways outside of the class to connect with my students (or others, if you want to join us please do. You can follow me on twitter or asked to have the #AYogaPoseADay e-mailed to you).

The idea is just for me to suggest a pose a day . . . perhaps it is all you do or perhaps it gets adding into the practice you have. The instruction we decided upon was 30 seconds or four breaths. I actually suggested that the students time their breaths just to have an idea of how many breaths they do in 30 seconds or how long four breaths is for them. Then you can play with it from there.

Is there something that you do daily? A daily practice that you have?

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Stressing Not Stretching

Posted by terrepruitt on January 20, 2020

I teach a stretch class. In that class we do static stretches that are meant to stretch our muscles. Sometimes to get people into the stretch I use the name of a yoga pose, but because we are stretching our intent is different. If we were actually in yoga doing the pose we would be including breathing and strengthening, but in the stretch class I try to just make it about stretching the muscles. I may have mentioned before, when I started learning Yin Yoga I was frustrated because the names of the poses were different. I kept saying, “Why are the names different? They are the same poses?” Then I realized that the intent of the pose is different. So it really does serve the student better to call it something different. If I were to instruct students to move into Bound Angle, then people that know this pose would pull their feet in as close as they could pressing their knees towards the earth and lengthening the spine, but in Yin calling it butterfly lets them know that they are not doing the same thing as they would be in a yang class. There is no need to pull the feet in as close to the middle as you can get them and press the knees down, the idea is to soften and round, the head and knees hang resting where they are to help the connective tissue stress (FKA stretch). So the names are different to help remind us that the intent is different. We are not working (stretching, strengthening, moving) muscles; we are relaxing muscles and letting our bodies hang into a pose. In Yin Yoga we are not stretching we are stressing.

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It is such a habit to say “stretch”. “In Yin Yoga we stretch our connective tissue.” I think I say it because it sounds a little better than stressing. I also keep saying lengthen because it sounds like a goal people want to hear. I think that for many of the people I have encountered stretching and lengthening are goals. Connective tissues doesn’t really stretch out, it gets stressed which helps hydrate it and strengthen it and allow it to move and support us better.

I also feel like some of this is in part due to the fact that many people think of Yin Yoga as Restorative Yoga. Restorative Yoga is more of a relaxing muscle stretching type of yoga. It can help heal the body. There are many props used to allow the participant to lie there in comfort. Yin Yoga is not about comfort. It about stressing that connective tissue which can make the part of the body feel like it aged years over the few minutes you were in the pose. But as long as it is not PAIN or tingling or numbing that is being felt it sounds as if you are doing it right.

In order for the yin pose to be effective it needs to be done for a long time. I was taught that it has to be AT LEAST one minute. But I see some information say it must be longer, but I have also been taught that for many people and for many poses we need to start at one minute because even that is going to feel like an eternity. As the body becomes accustomed to long holds then the time spent in each pose can be longer. I believe the ideal time is from three to five minutes . . . but it also depends on the pose.

Just like with all yoga it is important to listen to the body and not try to compete, the idea is to play the edge yet know when you must stop. Again, we are STRESSING the tissue but we don’t want to stress it past its breaking point. We still must be mindful.

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Excited For Corpse Pose

Posted by terrepruitt on December 9, 2019

I recently taught a class where it was requested that I split the class. The facilitator wanted me to teach half of it as Nia and half as yoga. As we were getting up off of our mats at the end of class, one student said, “What happen? Why did you cut it short? Normally it is longer?” A couple of us stopped and asked, “What?” She repeated her questions and to us it sounded as if she was saying that we usually went until 1:10 because a few of us answered her with, “No, we always end at 1:00.” She clarified that she was saying that shavasana is usually ten minutes and she was asking why I cut it short. I was so happy. With the split class I thought that they would want a shorter shavasana so they could do more active yoga. I was so surprised.

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This class enjoys their shavasana. The class I teach is in the middle of their work day and so they come to get some yoga in and they love to end with shavasana. I am a real stickler when it comes to shavasana in the yoga classes I teach. I believe that for some people it is the only time of day when they might get a little rest. If I start shavasana and you, as a student, stay, then, in my classes you are agreeing to stay until the end and resolve to be still. You are agreeing to give yourself that time to relax and to rest. You are agreeing to keep the space that we created and not break it by leaving before the class is done. It could be the only time where someone isn’t making demands on you _ whether it is normally your job, your kids, your (other) family, or just life in general that is requiring your attention – shavasana is the one time for you. It is a sacred time.

I was so excited to hear that these students enjoyed shavasana. They were disappointed that it was not as long as it usually is.

After the class the facilitator and I were discussing the class and I mentioned that some people were disappointed because shavasana was cut short and she shared that the employees had told her that they really enjoy shavasana. I am so happy about that.

I often hear that shavasana is one of the most difficult poses. It seems that society has proclaimed that people always have to be busy, they have to be DOING, so it makes sense that shavasana is such a challenge. Some people have so much pain and discomfort in their bodies that is it difficult for them to lie on their back* and be still for some time. And some of us have that busy “monkey mind” so it is hard to quiet it. Often times when the mind can’t be quieted the body can’t either. If neither one can be still it makes shavasana very difficult. So it can really be a pose that needs practice. So I was excited to hear that some students actually look forward to the time we allow for it.

I am looking forward to this week and being able to give them the time they look forward to each week.

*Shavasana is done in corpse pose or IS corpse pose . . . which is lying on your back . . . I instruct students on how to do the pose, but always encourage those that have pain or who are uncomfortable to get into a comfortable position so that they can be still and enjoy the benefits of stillness of the body and the mind.

What about you?  Do you enjoy shavasana?

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Four Tattvas For Yin Yoga Practice

Posted by terrepruitt on September 16, 2019

I’ve been preaching about the four principles of a Yin Yoga practice. The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga calls them tattvas and it lists three.  Tattva is Sanskrit and it is said to mean truth or principle. Some say it stands for “thatness” or reality. So we could say that these are four intentions or goals of a Yin Yoga practice.

1) Come into the pose at the appropriate depth.

I was actually taught to come into a pose about 80% of what I can do or could do. So, first of all, there is a difference between what you can do in a 30 second hold and what you can do in a three to five minute hold. Start in a pose at 80% of what you can do and hold. Then see how it goes. There is always time to go further into the pose. Often time there is “sinking” or “relaxing” into a pose and if you started out at that 100% mark there would be no room to sink and relax. So starting out at about 80% gives you room to lengthen into it.

2) Resolve to be still.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFit, City of San Jose Exercise Classes, Cambrian Yoga & Cardio Dance, CYCD, Yin YogaIt is such a challenge to be still. Sometimes movement might not even come because there is discomfort we might just feel the NEED to move our hair, adjust our clothes, or examine that spot/lint/crumb on our pants/leg/mat. But the change comes from the stillness. The Qi moves when there is relaxation in the muscles and there isn’t something – a muscle contraction – blocking it. So resolve to be still, this does not include the sinking or relaxing into a pose. What I have experienced and what I see is that just happens and is almost imperceptible if not something that the participant is not even that aware is happening.  It is the actually moving around that you don’t want to do.

3) Hold for a time.

Since the tissue we are working with is not elastic and it really won’t stretch in the same way a muscle can be stretched it needs time to change and “lengthen”. Again, most of that sinking from relaxation doesn’t even come until after the one minute mark so the longer you can hold the more time the tissue will have to change.

4) Play your edge.

This comes after the “appropriate depth” idea. Once you have come into a pose at the 80% of what you can do, you want to push the boundary. That does not mean push into a pose that just means allow your body to sink into or relax into it until you are sure you can’t go any more. That doesn’t even mean go to you 100%, necessarily, it could . . . but it just depends. Remember every time we come to the mat it is different. There are days that we know we shouldn’t be doing what we consider to our 100% and then there are days that we are convinced we can do 110%. So that edge, that 100% is constantly changing and we can play that edge every time. That is where we affect the change.

So these are four principles that I learned that should be applied every time we come to the mat for a Yin Yoga Practice.  Starting at 80% will allow us space to sink/relax and give the body a change to lengthen.  Staying still will allow the Qi to flow.  Holding the pose give our bodies the time it needs for us to sink/relax and the Qi to flow.  And playing that edge ensures we will allow for change.

Do you have any tattvas you bring to you mat when doing Yin Yoga? 

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