The first type of Yoga I tried, and fell in love with, was Bikram Yoga (the Hot 26). Once I had developed the stamina to attempt each pose, I was able to start developing an awareness of where my body was, and what shapes it was capable of making.
Even though I was enjoying my Hot 26 practice, the time came when I began to feel stuck. I thought I had gotten as far as my body would allow, and that I would never be able to progress any further with the poses. Then I found Yin Yoga! Yin was so different from my Hot 26 practice. It consisted of mainly floor-based poses, each held for between 3-5 minutes each with props and calming music. Yin Yoga encouraged me to focus on the sensations I experienced, and to relax into each pose.
After including Yin Yoga in my practice, I began to experience positive changes in the Hot 26 class. Yin acknowledges that the mind is prone to wandering, and offers guidance on how to bring it back by focusing on the breath and sensations in the body. Practising these techniques in Yin helped me become more focused in my Hot 26 classes. I also experienced positive physical changes. Yin requires holding the poses for longer, which greatly improved my hip and hamstring flexibility. In turn, this increased range helped deepen my Hot 26 poses.
Yin Yoga investigates what the physical body wants and needs, and allows the mind and ego to quieten. I can practice mindfulness and somatic awareness rather than just pushing through to my limit. Overall I find the combination of these two very different yoga practices extremely beneficial not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. As Paul Grilley explains:
“It was and is my intention to promote Yin Yoga as a supplement to yang forms of exercise…Yin Yoga soothes and calms us, yang Yoga invigorates and refreshes us. Each form of exercise is needed at different times. The modern world is very yang; life should be a balance between competition and compassion, between ambition and contentment, but this balance has been lost… Yin Yoga can help bring balance to an overly yang lifestyle.”
I have experienced enormous benefits from incorporating the two practices and I am grateful for the balance of both.
By Luka Baggio