Flavors of My Yoga

At first, I thought I’d write something similar to my Flavors of Paleo post, but I soon realized my knowledge on Yoga is significantly more limited. There are several different styles of Yoga I’m aware of – and I’m sure there are just as many I haven’t even heard of – but I only draw from a handful to create an eclectic home practice. So, here’s a brief overview of those particular styles that inspire me:

Iyengar
My very first experience of Yoga was through Iyengar, almost a decade ago. Contrary to the currently more popular dynamic flow systems, Iyengar Yoga is almost static by comparison. It focuses on alignment, and is characterized by the heavy use of props. Whenever I want to learn a new pose that is giving me trouble, I try to approach it the Iyengar way: I study it and deconstruct it into progressively more challenging variations that I can do in order to achieve the ultimate expression of the pose.

Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga
I experimented with this style of Yoga years ago, but was soon frustrated over being unable to keep up and thus gave up. It’s a vigorous vinyasa style that puts emphasis on strength (mostly through hand balance poses) and healthy flexibility. Having recently adopted a more personalized approach to Yoga in general, I decided to give it another go and seeing it through this different perspective, I gotta admit, I’m discovering new things to like about it.

Kripalu Yoga
This is the style that got me deep into Yoga. It emphasizes individualization of the practice and moving at one’s own pace, which makes it perfect for obese and/or injured practitioners such as myself. It has. There are spiritual undertones, but they’re not as strong as in  schools such as Anusara or Jivamukti IMHO.

Yin Yoga
I fell in love with Yin Yoga about a month ago. Since then, I’ve been more consistent than ever in my practice, doing 60- to 90-minute sessions almost daily. Unlike other styles of Yoga, Yin Yoga does not exercise or stretch the muscles, but instead works deep into the ligaments through long held poses. It’s a very quiet practice, and I never thought something like that would appeal to me, but it did. Moreover, I’ve seen incredible progress in areas that had been injured and have been tight for years, such as my hamstrings and adductors, and that simply keeps me going.

Putting it all together
You might wonder what my typical week of Yoga practices looks like. Before starting Yin Yoga, I would simply follow my mood: morning practice if I felt like it, evening if I didn’t, slow flow on days when I simply felt too sluggish and meh to even do a practice, more vigorous flow on days when I had more juice. From what I’ve learned through Yin Yoga, I should have done the exact opposite and done dynamic practices to boost my energy levels when they were low, and mellow when I was feeling high-strung. Things to keep in mind…

Nowadays, I settle down for some Yin Yoga after waking up in the morning, as soon as I’ve had something to eat (usually, a handful of nuts or half an avocado) and drunk some water. It’s a sweat-free practice, so I don’t even have to put on special clothes! I just do it in my jammies, even pulling on some nice, thick socks if it’s too cold. It’s extremely comfortable and comforting at the same time.

As much as I enjoy Yin Yoga, though, I’m aware that my practice is out of balance at the moment. My ligaments are getting healthier, but I’m ignoring my muscles – definitely not good. I’m hoping to implement an AM/PM kind of Yoga schedule: keep doing Yin Yoga in the morning, and add another more Yang session in the evening. I’m thinking of doing it as a 30-day challenge in order to get used to it and posting each of my sessions here to keep myself accountable. I’ll let you know when I begin since I’m looking forward to your support 🙂

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