Put a little Bang in your Yin Yang

Nov 23, 2010 | Fitness & Nutrition, Tips & Advice

energy. it’s an amazing thing, right? we’ve got it, we don’t have it, we want more of it, we have too much of it.

I have observed that the more energy I expend, the more energy I have. funny, isn’t it? when I’m active, riding my bicycle, I feel energized and alive and ready to conquer the world. I’m on a roll and there’s no stopping me. when I’m inactive, not riding my bicycle, I feel tired and sluggish and depressed. yeah, there’s something to this energy thing.

so, I’ve returned to practicing yoga. my objective is to balance my physical being — all the years of high-volume riding coupled with poor posture and bad ergonomics in my office, as well as a couple of serious past injuries. what I didn’t expect was to balance my emotional being as well.

in the past, I’ve practiced Bikram yoga, an intense, athletic form of yoga that’s practiced in a heated room. Bikram is Yang.* Bicycle riding is Yang. participating in both has created some interesting imbalances in both my physical and mental self. Bikram is physically challenging for me. there’s no half-way for me in Bikram. being a wee bit competitive in nature, I push too hard, I stretch too far, and I end up sore, tired and potentially injured. and then I quit.

my favorite yoga studio, Being Yoga in Burlingame, offers 40+ classes a week. most of these classes are Bikram, but a handful are other styles of yoga. so I’ve decided to check out some other styles. interestingly enough, these non-Bikram classes are offered in the middle of the day, a time when my energy starts to flag and I find I need some activity to push me through the afternoon.

enter Yin yoga. wow! it’s a form of deep yoga with poses that are held for a long time (some of them 10-15 minutes in duration). instead of focusing on our muscles, Yin goes deep into the connective tissue — ligaments and tendons — exactly where my broken + abused body really needs some focus. let’s see, Yin yoga + Yang cycling = balance. that makes sense to me.

the other interesting concept behind Yin yoga is that it’s very meditative. being a wired, ADD, hyper personality, I’ve never felt comfortable with meditation. yeah, I think a lot on the bike, but mostly my mind is pinging and ponging between a gazillion ideas at the same time. so for me to actually shut off my mind and focus on just one thought, one mantra, for an extended period of time seemed challenging. but I found that it was actually quite easy to be in the moment. and I also found that it helped my mental focus at other times, too.

balance. it’s a funny thing. oil + vinegar. sonny + cher. yin + yang. it’s all starting to make sense to me now.

*If you want to learn more about Yin + Yang and the theory of contrary but interdependent forces, start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yin_and_yang