You can’t Yang without your Yin

Today’s Workout:
The Plan: (I’m officially shifting my week by a day) 45 Minutes of Strength
The Actual: 1 Hour Yin Yoga

As I mentioned yesterday, I felt a pull in my hamstring throughout the run, and to be honest, towards the end it felt like it was on the verge of a full-on cramp.  Not good.  I don’t go back to the osteopath until Monday and I’ve strategically scheduled a massage for next Friday ahead of my “big” race on Saturday.  Okay, it’s not really big but it’s one of my favorites because it’s a tradition with the hubs so I want to feel good.  That being said, I have quite a few days of training between now and all that and I just want my hip to loosen up!

Enter stage left, Yin Yoga.  I’ve been on and off with my practice of Vinyasa (flow) yoga for about two years but today was my first time with Yin.  “What’s the difference?” you may ask.  Well, Vinyasa yoga is the practice where movement is synchronized to the breath and the poses smoothly run together. The breath becomes an important component where you move from one pose to the next on an inhale or an exhale.  Moving from pose to pose can definitely get your heart rate up and, depending on the temperature of the room you’re practicing in, can work up quite the sweat.  Yin, on the other hand, targets the connective tissues, such as the ligaments, bones, and even the joints of the body with a practice of holding the poses for anywhere from one to twenty minutes.  It also often targets the area of hips, pelvis and spine – YES PLEASE!!!  I found a site (What is Yin Yoga?) that says, “After you have experienced it, even just once, you will realize that you have been doing only half of the asana practice.” and BOY were they right!

As runners our hips are notoriously tight.  Pile on top of that the amount of time we sit at a desk and/or in our cars and you’ve got quite the recipe for disaster e.g. your’s truly.  When we’re talking about our bodies, tightness by the milometer can result in some real pain, strain, or worse full injury.

After today’s session at Riverbend Yoga, I can definitely say I was only doing half the yoga practice.  Yin is definitely different from Vinyasa.  The class was an hour and we probably only held 10 different poses but, like I mentioned earlier, we held them for 2-3 minutes each and often alternating sides to balance everything.  Was this a strength session?  No.  However, it was EXACTLY what the doctor ordered.  I’ve bent over multiple times to pick something up off the floor with NO PAIN since the session.  To put it in perspective, because flexibility is all about relativity, at last week’s yoga I couldn’t even reach my knees doing a forward fold.  Over the last week I’ve focused on stretch and at the beginning of class I was able to get down to my shins but with the help of leaning on my legs on the way down.  Well my friends, I just did a forward fold, palms to the floor with no assist from the rest of my body – YOU ROCK YIN YOGA!!!

I will be honest though, you need to go into this with the right mind set.  It was one of the most relaxing sessions I’ve ever had and I barely broke a sweat, but I know my body was working and it was what I needed right now.  After today, I would highly recommend balancing your yang (for me vinyasa) with your yin yoga.  If you don’t have any yoga in your training regimen, you are definitely missing a critical piece to perfecting your form, strengthening your body, and balancing it all to help you increase your speed and endurance.

Go get some Yin to go with your Yang. You’ve literally been missing your other half.

I updated the title of this post.  It seemed more apropos 🙂


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