Power House Yoga Berwick - Articles
The Balance Buzz
Life is HECTIC!! We are constantly and relentlessly being stimulated by work, family, technology, marketing, desires, ambitions, worries, anxieties, the list is endless! We live a very “Yang” lifestyle (aggressive, fast paced, excited, heightened and outward focused). With this constant stimulation brings a low level (but chronic!) form of stress on our entire body and all its systems. For some people, the level of stress is MUCH higher!! Incessant stimulation means our sympathetic nervous system is in a constant state of fight or flight. Even a quick trip to the grocery store can heighten our nervous systems response to danger. This incessant, although low level, stress can eventually cause Adrenal Fatigue if we do not take measures to give our nervous system a break.
So what do we do??? SLOW DOWN!! We all say it… “Time Flies” and as we get older, time seems to go faster!! It is a never ending cycle. The busier we are, the faster we move, the quicker time goes and the more stress we place on our body, mind and soul. We need to BALANCE out our “Yang” lifestyles with a “Yin” perspective (inward focused, slower paced, restful intention).
The good news is that there is a solution. And even better news is that we each have the capability to reduce our own adrenal fatigue and stress levels to live a more balanced and harmonious existence. All we have to do is give ourselves the time. And I know the first thing you are going to say is “but I don’t have the time!” My response is, how important is your health and wellbeing to you? I believe we cannot put a price or a time restraint on the health of our bodies and more importantly our internal environment. There are 24 hours in each day... Even if you take 10 or 15 minutes out of your day to sit in a pose and draw your senses within, to slow down the thinking patterns, the benefits are enormous. Eventually, it becomes a habit and then a daily necessity for your body and soul.
Here at Power House Yoga, we offer a class known as Yoga BALANCE. The class’s intention is just that - It is the Yin to balance out the Yang. And it is becoming a VERY popular class indeed. The Balance Buzz is all about the experience. We offer Yin Yoga coupled with self-myofascial release techniques to get the most benefit for the body, mind and soul. As we all know, a happy body is a happy home! And as Aristotle says “The energy of the mind, is the essence of life.” You will walk (or quite often float) away from a PHY Yoga Balance class feeling refreshed, relaxed, open and free but worked and challenged at the same time.
What is Yin Yoga?
Yin Yoga is a practice where yoga poses (or asanas) are held for long periods of time – usually 3 to 6 minutes to reap the most benefits. Yin Yoga targets the connective tissues in the body such as ligaments, bones and joint capsules, while our Yang style of yoga (vinyasa) targets the muscles and stimulates all our bodily systems.
Connective tissue called fascia surrounds and weaves through every muscle, bone, nerve and organ in the body. It is a massive network that intertwines throughout the whole body, from head to toe, uninterrupted. And it cannot be stretched. Instead it must be stressed over a period of time to allow the fibres to reorganise themselves. We like to use the analogy of stepping on wet sand or a wet sponge. As fascia is 70(ish)% water – depending on factors such as age and lifestyle – when we hold a pose, we are stepping on the wet sand and then when we release out of the pose it’s like stepping off the wet sand which allows the water to be soaked back up into the area. This is known as the re-coil affect and allows the fascia to be re-hydrated. Through his studies, Thomas Myers believes that the only way we can re-hydrate connective tissue is through yoga and body work such as massage. We can drink all the water in the world, but if we don’t do these movements and massage practices, our fascia is unable to re-hydrate and in turn we lose our elasticity.
Holding our yoga poses for the extended periods of time allocated in a Yin Yoga class allows our muscles to switch off and our fascia deep within the joint complexes to take on the stress. In my own 15 years of personal yoga practice, 15+ years of fitness industry experience and 20+ years of dance studies and performance, I have gained more flexibility in my joint complexes from practicing this style of yoga in the last 5 years than any other form of physical movement. Ailments from my younger years have healed and disappeared and although year by year I age, I have found my body has not. I am stronger and more physically fit and able now than I have ever been.
Due to fascia being avascular – lacks blood flow – it takes a long time to heal when injured. Injury prevention is our best form of defence and participating in practices such as Yin Yoga, we gain more elasticity in our fascia fibres which helps prevent injuries in those tissues. However, if injury has already been experienced, we now need to offer more blood flow for healing purposes. Focusing on certain areas in Yin Yoga will allow restoration of the tissues.
At Power House Yoga, we couple our Yin Yoga practice with self-myofascial release techniques (SMRT) which give us Yoga BALANCE. What is SMRT I hear you ask… It is a way of giving ourselves a targeted massage using tennis balls, rubber balls or even golf balls. These techniques taught in class can be (and are encouraged to be) used at home or even in the work place. This form of body work specifically targets an area to stimulate blood flow and healing. It offers an intense and precise pressure point to the area in need of healing such as knots, strains, sprains, tears or to break up scar tissue. This kind of body work cannot – and should not – be underestimated. The short term AND long term benefits are undeniable.
If you have ever had an injury or even just woken up with a stiff neck or back, you will know how frustrating the lack of mobility is as well as how annoyingly painful everyday movements can become. It takes a huge toll on not only your body, but your spirit as well. We get consumed by pain. When we are experiencing pain or discomfort, it tends to be the only thing we can think about. It consumes us! Why be consumed, when there is a solution? Movement is medicine and body work is our doctor.
You hold the power in your life right now! The power to eventually change movement patterns, thought patterns and reaction patterns. All you have to do is give yourself the time – The time to practice, the time to experience and the time to just be.
There are many varieties of Yin style yoga classes around. These classes can go by various names, so look for the description of the class and be sure to give it a go. And remember, not every studio or teacher’s style suits everyone. Yoga in general is so varied. So if you try one and it doesn’t quite suit you, make sure you don’t stop there. Keep searching for the right studio, the right teacher and the right style for you.
Bring BALANCE back into your life – on every level. Give yourself the gift of time. They say “the most precious gift you can give someone is the gift of your time and attention”… Why not give that gift – to yourself!
“The greatest gift that you can give yourself is a little bit of your own attention.”
~ Anthony J. D’Angelo
PHY Teacher – Mel – also has some words to share on the topic:
I know on every level that real, genuine rest and relaxation is key to having balance in life. Throughout the busyness, we look forward to our weekends, holidays, or just a few moments in the day to sit and breathe. And yet most of us rarely take advantage of the spare time we do get to truly relax. Any free time is often spent in front of the TV or glued to devices, trawling through social media – just in case we’re missing out. This might be enjoyable sometimes but are we really feeling more rested after? Or more restless?
Enter Yin Yoga - permission to be still – Without guilt. A place to find space – to lengthen, to soften and bring awareness into our bodies. For me, even more importantly, it’s an opportunity to create space in my mind. And that is what makes it so CHALLENGING.
In quiet times our mind wanders constantly - to-do lists, plans for the future, past events and endless daydreaming. Focusing awareness to our breath and body in the present moment is no easy task.
During a yin practice we’re seeking a mindful, meditative state as we move slowly between and hold each pose. It’s a stillness that can get really uncomfortable. The combination of mental and physical focus (and sometimes discomfort) can make yin yoga more challenging than any other form of yoga I’ve practiced. Coming to terms with the quirkiness of your own body during physical practice is one thing, but diving into the dusty and dark corners of our mind is another. Maybe even a little terrifying?
As a teacher and eternal student of Yoga, I know that the level of inner peace and contentment can only come from acknowledging and accepting what is within. When you come to your mat to let go, and allow yourself to dive in to what is going on inside rather than focusing on the external, you recognize, over time, that everything you need to be content is already within you. If your body is sore, you allow yourself to feel it. If your mind is distracted and maybe a little murky, you acknowledge it. You come to realize that your current state of mind is only that – a state of mind – ever-changing.
I often hear that our Yoga mats are a mirror – a space for transformation. As we release the tensions from our body during a sweaty Yoga Heat class, we can release the tensions from our mind and hearts with Yin. In a Yoga Balance class; we give in – we surrender. Learning to stay and not run. Being OK with what is.
I know for me, when I do give myself time and space for Yin, I find my balance. “Some days we eat salad and go to Yoga - Some days we eat cupcakes and wear tracksuit pants” It’s all about BALANCE.