Yoga, Yoga & Lifestyle Product Reviews

Yoga Club – Subscription Box for Yoga Clothing (Review and Discount Code)

As a yoga teacher, I live in yoga clothes. I teach classes, film videos, run errands, and do almost everything else wearing capri leggings and tank tops. I’m currently 14 weeks post-baby and working to shed some extra pregnancy weight so I haven’t bought any new outfits in the last year. When YogaClub reached out to me about trying their yoga clothing subscription box, I jumped at the opportunity to find some quality gear that I can feel good in as a new momma!

READ the full review below or WATCH my unboxing/review/try-on video (9 minutes)

WHAT IS IT?          

YogaClub is a monthly subscription box for yoga gear. It’s like having an online personal shopper.  They handpick workout clothes for you based on your style and preferences then ship the box to you every month. What makes it special is you get these name brand yoga apparel for a fraction of the retail price!                                                                                                                

There are 3 packages to choose from:

The Chakra – $45/month ($100 retail value)
The Karma – $69/month ($140 retail value)
The Guru – $79/month ($160 retail value) – This is what I got!

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HOW DOES IT WORK?  

After setting up your account, you pick one of the 3 packages. You answer their Style Quiz to let them what your preferences are for styles, patterns, colors, and size. They will then “curate” your box and ship it to you. If there is anything that doesn’t work for you, you can exchange it. You may also pause or cancel your membership anytime.

WHAT’S IN MY BOX?

My box is THE GURU which costs $79 and contains 3 premium items. If you’ve been watching my yoga videos, you know I tend to stick to solid/neutral colors and simple patterns for my leggings and tops. Every now and then, I’ll wear something in a bright color or with a fun print. Here are the 3 pieces I received:

  • Electric Yoga – Faded Legging in Gray (Medium) – $88 retail price
  • Teeki – Rainbow Priestess Hot Pant in Coffee (Medium) – $72 retail price
  • Satva – Kumari Cowl Sweater in Black (Small) – $64 retail price

yogaclub

 

MY REVIEW:

I must say that you do get amazing value with this package. The retail price of the Electric Yoga leggings alone ($88) is greater than that of the entire box of 3 items ($79)! To be completely honest, I think the individual pieces are too expensive and I normally would not purchase these unless they were on sale. With this package, each product ends up being under $30 and that is a significant discount.

Satva – Kumari Cowl Sweater in Black (Small)

The tag says it is made from organic cotton and the company promotes non-GMO toxin-free production. I love cowl neck sweaters! This is lovely and fits beautifully on the neckline. The style is more loose and flowy which would be perfect for layering in the fall and winter. (Note: I live in the Midwest) The soft material does not itch, unlike other thick sweaters. I also like the simple button details on both sides. This can even work for maternity wear (here’s hoping for baby #2 next year! 🙂

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Electric Yoga – Faded Legging in Gray (Medium)  

Tag says it is made of 55% nylon, 33% polyester, 12% spandex.  The fabric feels very stretchy yet surprisingly durable. It is heavy enough to wear during the spring and fall but it feels too warm for me in the summer. Even though the material is slightly thicker than what I’m used to for yoga pants, it is still very comfortable. I enjoy teaching and practicing in these. You can not see through the pants, which is a problem for other leggings and tights. It does fit very snugly on the thighs, hips, and crotch area. It’s not an issue for me but it might be for others who prefer less revealing clothes. The design is simple but not boring. I appreciate the simple detailed stitching/pattern on the side of the leg and the “ombre” effect of the black and gray colors.

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Teeki – Rainbow Priestess Hot Pant in Coffee (Medium)    

The tag says the pant is made in the USA and made mostly from recycled plastic bottles in California. This is probably my favorite of all 3 pieces. The fabric feels amazing! It is so comfortable and it truly is like second skin. Recycled plastic bottles? Who knew?!! 🙂 It feels much more lightweight than the Electric Yoga leggings so I will probably still wear it in the spring and summer. Be warned though, if you are really looking at it in harsh lights, it is a tad see-through in the back.  I didn’t feel self-conscious during yoga but you do need to wear the right underwear for this one! I love the fun detail print on the right leg. I also appreciate the wide waistband that makes it stay put while you’re flowing through poses.

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FINAL THOUGHTS – As with any subscription box, there are pros and cons. Overall, I had a great experience communicating with the company and trying out the products. I feel you get a lot of bang for your buck because you get high quality clothes at a huge discount. I’m guessing subsequent boxes will be hit or miss but it’s not a problem because you can exchange items you don’t like. Here are a few more details to help you decide if the YogaClub membership is right for you:

This is for you if:

  • You like the element of surprise that comes with online shopping. They curate the box for you so you can’t pick out the actual items for your box.
  • You enjoy discovering and trying out new brands.
  • You follow fashion and tend to wear on-trend pieces.
  • You need/want new yoga/workout clothes on a regular basis.
  • You favor expensive name-brand yoga apparel but at a discounted price.
  • You are too busy to do the shopping yourself.
  • You don’t enjoy going to stores and trying on clothes.

This is not for you if:

  • You can’t deal with the hassle of returning/exchanging purchases. There’s a chance you might not like the items in your box. They let you exchange it for something that you will like so it is essentially risk-free.
  • You are a minimalist who only wants a few quality pieces that you can wear for a long time.
  • You have a set style and don’t feel the need to constantly update your wardrobe.
  • You prefer shopping for yourself and trying on clothes before buying them.

 

Get 20% OFF your first box!

Use my discount code: YOGAUPLOAD20 (Expires May 15, 2017)

Visit the yogaclub.com website and get styled! 🙂

 

Let me know if you’ve tried this box or any other clothing subscription service. I would love to hear from you! For more of my reviews, visit my YouTube channel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga, Yoga Practice, Yoga Tips

How to Relieve Stress and Relax Deeply

We live in a time when frenetic activity is the norm. We jump out of bed and immediately check our phone, take a shower while mentally running through our to-do list, and rush through our day to get things done. Some of us do physically demanding work, while others have jobs that are mentally and emotionally draining. We rarely take the time to rest, enjoy a meal or connect with loved ones. At the end of the day, we’re exhausted but unable to relax and get a good night’s sleep.

This way of living can negatively impact our health in a myriad of ways. Chronic stress is associated with heart disease, digestive problems, anxiety, depression, weight gain and many other issues. Now more than ever, it’s important to be proactive in managing stress and preventing disease. Integrating a regular yoga practice into our daily life can help us move towards true relaxation of the body and the mind.

Restorative Yoga is a unique yoga style designed to aid us in dealing with the stresses of modern life. “We work very hard in our lives, and while we may sleep, we rarely take time to relax. Restorative yoga poses help us learn to rest deeply and completely,” says Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., PT, world-renowned yoga master and author of Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times. In a restorative yoga class, all poses are fully supported using various props to encourage deep relaxation. Poses are held for a few minutes to still the body and the mind. The emphasis is not on achieving the pose but on being comfortable and allowing yourself to surrender.

Here are 3 Restorative Yoga Poses you can do for stress relief. Use a timer and hold each pose for 3-5 minutes. If you don’t have a yoga bolster, use a stack of blankets. Find some wall space for support. Set up in a quiet room with a comfortable temperature where you will be undisturbed during your practice. Make sure you unplug all your devices and eliminate distractions. While you’re in the pose, focus your wandering mind by paying attention to your breathing. To help you calm down, lengthen your exhales more and soften your face. Keep your eyes closed and use an eye pillow or small towel over your eyes.

 

1) Legs Up the Wall Pose

Lie on your side and move your hips towards the wall. When your hips touch the wall, bring your legs up. If your hamstrings feel too tight simply bend your knees a little bit. Experiment with placing a blanket or stack of blankets under your hips to test which version feels better.

Legs-Up-the-Wall

2) Supported Child’s Pose

From an all-fours position, place your bolster (or stack of blankets) in front of you between your knees. Sit your hips back towards your feet then rest your belly, chest and face on your bolster. Add more blankets if you need more height. Notice your hips, knees and ankles. Relax your arms on the floor. If it’s more comfortable for you, rest one cheek on your bolster then switch sides halfway through the pose.

Supported-Childs-Pose

3) Corpse Pose or Savasana

This is the most important and sometimes most difficult yoga pose. Lie on your back with your feet more than hip distance apart, arms relaxed by your sides and palms facing up. If you feel discomfort in your lower back, slide your bolster under your knees to bring your lower back closer to the mat. Keep your forehead slightly higher than your chin by sliding a pillow or blanket under your head if needed. Relax your tongue and let it fall away from the roof of your mouth. Let go of controlling the breath and allow it to flow naturally. Feel every part of your body softening and melting into your mat. Be as still as possible.

Savasana-or-Corpse-Pose

 

As with any skill we learn, relaxation takes practice. We all start out with tense bodies and chattering minds. That’s okay! Be patient with yourself and be consistent in your yoga practice. Soon you will reap the benefits of restorative yoga and you will know how to truly nourish your body, mind and spirit.

 

*I wrote this article for the Front Door Fitness website where it was first published. FDF is a wonderful personal training company in Kansas City; and I am proud to be part of the team. Check out the FDF blog for more free articles on fitness, nutrition, and healthy living.

Inspiration, Yoga, Yoga Practice, Yoga Q & A

Am I too Old for Yoga?

In today’s Q and A video, we talk about age and physical limitations. Can one be too old to start a yoga practice? Is there yoga for people with physical disabilities or injuries? I share with you 3 inspiring stories:

  • Tao Porchon-Lynch – one of the oldest living yoga teachers in the world
  • Matthew Sanford  – a yoga teacher who is paralyzed from the chest down
  • Dan Nevins – a veteran who lost both his legs in Iraq

 

For more of my VLOGS and Q&A videos, visit my YouTube channel. 🙂

Yoga, Yoga 101, Yoga Practice

Debunking 3 Common Yoga Myths

“I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible!” is like saying, “I can’t drink water because I’m not hydrated!” As a yoga teacher, I’ve heard this excuse many times from people hesitant to try the practice. It’s time to shed light on three of the most common misconceptions about yoga and debunk those yoga myths.

Yoga Myth #1: I have to be an acrobat/gymnast/contortionist to do yoga.                

Magazine covers and social media are rife with images of bendy yogis in fancy poses. Let me assure you that this is not what happens in a regular yoga class. You are there to move and stretch your body safely. Your instructor will help you adapt yoga poses to suit your needs and will not force you into shapes that are not suitable for your physique and level of experience. If you are a beginner, start with basic or gentle classes to learn the foundational poses.      

Yoga Myth #2: Yoga is boring. You just sit around doing nothing.  

Not all yoga classes have the same intensity level. Restorative and Yin yoga are more passive practices. Certain yoga styles like Ashtanga and Power Vinyasa, to name a couple, are physically challenging. In these classes, you will work up a sweat and increase your heart rate as you flow through a sequence of poses at a moderate to fast pace. I’ve had new students say after practice that the class was much harder than they thought it would be! A well-rounded yoga flow practice improves your strength, flexibility, balance and mental focus.

Yoga Myth #3: Yoga is a religion.  

I’ve been asked about the spiritual component of yoga by students who are worried that the practice might be in conflict with their faith. Every yoga teacher will have a different approach when it comes to this. A few classes will delve into spirituality and yogic texts, others will emphasize the mind-body connection, and some will focus mostly on the physical aspect. Some yoga styles incorporate chanting and yoga philosophy in their teachings. The good news is you will not be forced to do anything you are not comfortable with. The yoga classes I teach are filled with students who have different beliefs, backgrounds, and religious affiliations. You are free to absorb what you like about the practice and set aside what doesn’t serve you at the moment.

The important thing is to do your research. Talk to yoga teachers about the style they teach. Ask other yoga students about their experience. Read the descriptions of yoga classes at gyms or studios. Take classes from different instructors to find a good fit. With some trial and error, plus a sense of adventure, you will eventually discover the teachers and classes that are just right for you.

 

*I wrote this article for the Front Door Fitness website where it was first published. FDF is a wonderful personal training company in Kansas City; and I am proud to be part of the team. Check out the FDF blog for more free articles on fitness, nutrition, and healthy living.

Yoga, Yoga Practice, Yoga Tips

How to Change Unhealthy Habits through Yoga

Yoga is a wonderful practice with numerous physical benefits. It can also affect one’s mental and emotional well-being. A consistent and intelligent yoga regimen can initiate many positive changes and help transform unhealthy habits.

How can yoga do this? The skills we acquire through regular practice are the tools we can use to gradually change our behavior.

Skill #1: Ability to Focus Attention
In yoga, we flow through poses mindfully. We learn how to pay attention to even the most subtle sensations in the body and nuances in the breath. We start being attentive to the thoughts and emotions that come and go. Bringing awareness to whatever is occurring in the present moment is the first step towards changing habitual patterns. We are able to recognize that impulse to reach for junk food or mindlessly scroll through social media as it arises. Sometimes, when we are truly present and mindful, we discover that we don’t even enjoy these behaviors and we only engage in them out of habit.

Skill #2: Ability to Slow Down and Pause
When we are unaware, we react to situations blindly. We repeat actions simply because they are familiar. Once we bring awareness to the behavior we want to change, we now have a choice. In yoga, the slower pace of movement enables us to observe repetitive patterns in our thoughts and emotions. This ability to slow down and hit the pause button will help us respond to the situation with more clarity. Instead of losing our temper or lighting another cigarette, we can now stop and choose how to act instead of being on autopilot.

Skill #3: Ability to Stay with Discomfort
Whenever we try something new or encounter an unfamiliar situation, a sense of discomfort arises. In the physical practice of yoga, we learn how to sit with this discomfort. We discover how to find ease within challenging poses and how to observe our thoughts and emotions without judgment. If we are trying to drink less or exercise more, for example, recognizing uncomfortable feelings as they come to the surface is very important. We realize that we sometimes behave in certain ways in order to avoid being uncomfortable. When we are able to dispassionately observe our own discomfort, it will eventually lose its power over us and only then can we initiate real change.

These skills, along with the patience and discipline we acquire through yoga practice, will help us in our journey towards better health. We can slowly let go of old habits that keep us from living full and happy lives.

 

***This is an article I wrote for the Front Door Fitness website. FDF is a fantastic personal training company in the Kansas City area and I am proud to be part of their team. Check out the FDF blog for more articles on fitness and nutrition from my other colleagues.

Yoga, Yoga Practice

Do Yoga and Fitness Go Together?

If your regimen consists of strength training and cardio workouts, should you add yoga to the mix? How does a yoga practice enhance your fitness routine?

Yoga has gained popularity over the last few decades for good reason. Its many benefits include stress relief, pain reduction, improved flexibility and better balance. A regular yoga practice can also help you in your fitness journey in several ways.

YOGA PROVIDES VARIETY TO YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE.

Adding 1 to 2 yoga classes each week will challenge your body and brain in different ways. Learning new poses and sequences will keep your workouts fresh and interesting.

YOGA REMINDS YOU TO BE GRATEFUL FOR YOUR BODY

Being self-motivated and competitive may serve you well when your intention is to get fit. These traits enable you to stay on track and accomplish your goals. However, there are times when you need to slow down and simply enjoy the process. Let your yoga mat be the one place in your life when you are not competing with anyone – not even with yourself! Take the time to breathe. Be thankful for all the progress you’ve made and for the amazing things your body is able to do. You are more likely to stick with your fitness regimen if you are coming from a place of self-care instead of frustration and dissatisfaction with your body. It’s possible to have a positive attitude and be happy in your own skin right now, while at the same time work hard to improve your body and your athletic abilities.

YOGA HELPS INCREASE SELF-AWARENESS AND MINDFULNESS IN DAILY LIFE.

An intelligent yoga practice trains your attention. Over time, you become more attuned to the sensations in your body and more attentive to your own thoughts and emotions without judging them or wishing to escape from them. Becoming more self-aware will help you be more in tune with your body’s needs when it comes to exercise, nutrition and rest. When you are truly present, you are more mindful of what you put into your body and you are able to make better decisions regarding your own health and well-being.

There are many other long term effects of a consistent yoga practice. These are just some of the ways that yoga can complement your workouts. The key is to find a qualified teacher in the yoga style that best suits you. Keep an open mind and try a few classes online or at a local studio. You might just be surprised at the benefits you experience after a great yoga session.

 ***I wrote this article for the Front Door Fitness website and it was first published there a few months ago. FDF is a fantastic personal training company in the Kansas City area and I am proud to be part of their team. Check out the FDF blog for more articles on fitness and nutrition from my other colleagues.
For Yoga Teachers, Inspiration, Personal, Yoga, Yoga Q & A

Why I Don’t Make YOGA FOR WEIGHT LOSS Videos: The Truth about Yoga and Weight Loss

In this vlog, I share my opinion on Yoga and Weight Loss. Can yoga help you lose weight? Does yoga make you burn fat? The answer is a bit complicated. I share with you my expert resources (check books, authors, and videos below) so you can have the information you need to make your own decisions. I talk about why I personally do not make “Yoga for Weight Loss” or “Fat Burning Yoga Workout” videos and my yoga teaching philosophy.

Expert Resources:

Dr. Mark Hyman
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ultrawellness
Book: Eat Fat Get Thin

Gary Taubes
Book: Why We Get Fat

Netflix Documentary:
Fed Up

Other Resources:
The works of Michael Pollan
The 100 Diet by Jorge Cruise

Yoga, Yoga Practice, Yoga Tips

Yoga Tips: How to Start and Sustain a Home Yoga Practice

No matter how much you love yoga, you know it’s not always possible to attend your favorite class. Yoga studio or gym passes can be expensive. The class schedule doesn’t always accommodate your busy life. Sometimes, the sheer effort of getting ready and driving to the studio is just too much work.

That’s why it’s important to cultivate a home yoga practice. If you truly want to reap yoga’s enormous benefits, you must be willing to do the often difficult task of going solo. I remember falling in love with yoga when I was still living in Manila and making the rounds of all the yoga studios in the area. I could only afford the “new student special” so I ran out of places to go pretty fast. Thanks to free yoga on the internet and cheap back issues of Yoga Journal magazine, I was able to start practicing at home. To be honest, it was not as fun as I thought it would be! Eventually, though, I got over the awkwardness of doing yoga by myself in our tiny apartment. Here are a few tips I’d like to share with you to help you start, and hopefully maintain, a home practice.

1) Let go of expectations
I guarantee your self-practice will be nothing like your favorite yoga teacher’s class. The studio ambiance, your instructor’s familiar guidance, and the energy of fellow students will obviously not be there. The one thing that is there is you. YOU are there. You are all you need for yoga: your body, your breath, your focus, and your intention. It might feel strange at first because you have to decide what sequence to do, how long to stay in poses, and how intense the practice will be. Give it some time and let yourself get used to that freedom. Let go of what you think you should do and simply be open to whatever arises during your practice. Be okay that your yoga at home will be different from your yoga in class. This is your time to explore! You might just surprise yourself.

2) Be flexible
At home, there will be distractions. The phone will ring. Your kids will need attention. Chores will be waiting. Adapt your practice to suit your schedule and your environment.  Do whatever you can with the time and energy you have that day. You won’t always have an hour for a vinyasa flow with all the bells and whistles. You might have days when you can only do gentle poses for 30 minutes. Sometimes all you can do is a few sun salutations for 15 mintues. That’s ok. The duration and intensity of your practice is completely up to you.

3) Do what you know and enjoy
A common obstacle to practicing at home is not knowing what to do. Start with what you know. Practice the poses that are most familiar to you. The beauty of a home practice is you get to do your favorite postures! Remember that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.
As you get more comfortable in your self-practice, you might want to add poses that you struggle with. This can be a time to work on challenging asana that you are too self-conscious to attempt in public. Practice safely, of course!

4) Seek guidance and support
Talk to the yoga teachers you know or your fellow students who have an established home practice. Ask them to give you some tips or a simple sequence you can start with. You can also find free yoga videos on YouTube (here’s my channel Yoga Upload with all my free videos) and paid online subscriptions on various yoga websites. It might take a while to find online classes that suit your needs and preferences so be patient. Take your time researching and exploring the different offerings available. For beginners, I recommend my yoga class videos for All Levels. Also, try checking out yoga books at your local library. These will enhance not only your physical practice but also your knowledge of the different aspects of yoga.

5) Dedicate a space for practice
Organize a dedicated practice space in your home. It can be an entire room or just a corner with enough space for a yoga mat. You can also have more than one designated spot for yoga if you want the flexibility of unrolling your mat in whichever room happens to be conducive to practice at any given time. For morning and evening gentle yoga, you can even practice in bed! Keep your yoga mat in view if you know the sight of it will encourage you to practice. If you don’t have any blocks or straps at home, you may use common household items as makeshift yoga props. (I have videos on How to Use Yoga Blocks and How to Use Yoga Straps where I also show substitute items.)

Practicing solo without a teacher’s guidance and the energy of fellow yogis might seem intimidating at first. The key is to make that commitment to yourself to practice even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time. It doesn’t have to take long. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t even have to be quiet! Right now, my home practice consists of getting a few poses and stretches in whenever my 8-week old baby is on his play mat for tummy time. I unroll my mat beside his and just flow through a simple sequence. It’s fun to be on the floor together! I’m not always successful in my attempts to weave my yoga practice into the chaos of daily life; but whenever I am able to practice, I’m always glad I made the effort.

Yoga, Yoga 101, Yoga Practice

The Four Styles of Yoga

What are the different styles of yoga and how do you know which one is right for you? Over the years, I’ve practiced and dabbled in various types and “brands” of yoga. Some are more traditional and lineage-based (e.g. Ashtanga, Iyengar, Viniyoga) while others are newer creations of master teachers and yoga celebrities (e.g. Baptiste’s Power Yoga, Sadie Nardini’s Core Strength Vinyasa, Bikram Yoga, Jivamukti Yoga). Every now and then, I will read about some trending yoga combo such as: Doga (dog yoga), Broga (yoga for bros?), and now that recreational marijuana is legal in some states – even Pot Yoga!

The dizzying array of yoga offerings in modern culture is enough to make a beginner either just give up or simply walk into any random class and hope it works out. Here, I’ll talk about just FOUR of the most common styles you will encounter in yoga studios or online videos. This list will give you an idea of the differences between the styles and help you decide which one might best suit your needs.

HATHA YOGA

Hatha is a general term that refers to the PHYSICAL practice of yoga. It’s different from the other aspects of yoga such as meditation and yoga philosophy. Hatha Yoga refers to the physical discipline – the practice of “asanas” or yoga postures. 

Sometimes in yoga studios and online yoga classes you’ll see “Hatha Yoga” as one of the styles. The word can also be used to describe either gentle yoga or a more static yoga practice where poses are held longer (there is no “flowing” movement unlike in Vinyasa).

Who is it for? Hatha style classes can be very beneficial for you if you’re just starting out with your yoga practice. Because poses are held for a long time, students learn proper alignment. There’s enough time spent in the pose for the student to feel subtle sensations in the body. A Hatha class may also include challenging yoga poses but you still come in and out of the pose slowly.

VINYASA YOGA or VINYASA FLOW YOGA

Vinyasa is a SANSKRIT term that has several meanings. The word Vinyasa is loosely translated as “to place in a special way.” In the context of modern yoga and yoga studio classes, Vinyasa refers to the flowing style of yoga practice. In a Vinyasa class, we coordinate breath with movement and we link the poses together to create a flowing sequence that is almost like a dance. Vinyasa is also the term used to describe a specific sequence of poses which are: plank to low plank/chaturanga to upward facing dog to downward facing dog. It’s sometimes referred to as a transition sequence.

Who is it for? Vinyasa is appropriate for those who have some yoga experience and for strong beginners with no major injuries. The style flows from pose to pose so you don’t always have enough time to learn alignment details. You’ll benefit most if you already have a basic understanding of common yoga poses.

Vinyasa has a wonderful dance-like quality and can be a great physical workout. In most classes – you will work up a sweat, generate heat with the ujjayi breathing and dynamic movement, and get your heart rate up. You can increase strength and improve flexibility with consistent practice. It also enhances your concentration and mental focus as you connect the breath with the movement and as you work to transition gracefully in and out of poses.

YIN YOGA or DEEP STRETCH YOGA

I’m sure you’re familiar with the Taoist concepts of “yin and yang.” These are opposite and complementary principles. Yang is the masculine or active energy and Yin is

the feminine or passive counterpart. This is an oversimplification, of course, and there is more to these concepts than can be explained here.

In a Yin class, you’re passive in the sense that you’re on the floor the whole time. You do seated and supine poses (supported by props when necessary) and you hold these for much longer than you would in a Vinyasa class (usually 3-5 minutes). In Yin, we gently and safely stretch the connective tissue that surrounds the joints. When we moderately “stress” or stretch the connective tissue by holding a yin pose for a long time, the body will respond by making it longer and stronger.

If you’re looking at someone in a yin pose, they might look like they’re not doing much. However, yin poses can feel intense. There will be some strong sensations and possibly discomfort (not sharp pain – we never want that in any practice!). The intention is to gradually improve flexibility and mobility. All levels of yoga students can benefit from a yin yoga practice. The meditative quality of  yin can also help with relaxation and tension relief.

RESTORATIVE YOGA

Restorative Yoga is a great antidote to chronic stress. In a class, you might just do a few poses (5 or 6) and you hold these poses for at least 5 minutes. Some supine poses are held even longer, up to 10 minutes. These long holds allow the body to gradually release into the pose and relax deeply and completely.

The body is supported by props. The various props are there to adapt the pose to fit the student’s body so long holds are possible. There is hardly any movement in the pose and this style requires much less effort than Yin Yoga. There is some passive stretching that happens as you stay in the pose for long periods of time but actively stretching is not the intention.

Restorative yoga can be a healing practice. It allows you to slow down and quiet down. It is an opportunity to alleviate adrenal fatigue that results from not giving the body enough time to rest and restore itself. It can be challenging and uncomfortable for the mind that is not used to stillness and silence. This is all part of the discipline of this style.

All levels of yoga students can benefit from this practice. It can also be used when one is recovering from injury, struggling with personal issues, or chronically fatigued.

Which style is right for you?

In the first few months or years of your yoga practice, it’s natural to be drawn to the style that is compatible with your personality. If you’re a goal-oriented and self-motivated type A individual, you may find challenging and sweaty Vinyasa classes appealing. You enjoy the constant movement, the intensity of the poses, and the upbeat music (with some teachers). If you’re more introverted or inner-directed, you may prefer the silence and stillness of Yin and Restorative. You appreciate the quiet approach, minimal stimulation, and less activity of the more passive practices.

This is all well and good. However, remember that yoga is also about bringing balance into our lives. I suggest you explore the practices that don’t initially appeal to you. Get out of your comfort zone and try the class that’s unfamiliar. Cultivate the opposite of your habitual patterns and tendencies. Yoga is about facing the discomfort and finding ease within that discomfort. And believe me, you will be mentally and emotionally uncomfortable whenever you try something new. The go-getter types might be bored and frustrated with just “sitting around doing nothing” in Yin or Restorative. The passive types might resist pushing themselves physically in strong flow classes. This is all part of the process as we continue exploring yoga and deepening our practice. You will probably always gravitate to the classes that are most familiar and comfortable for you;  but it is worth exploring the other styles to bring balance into your practice.