The dark, the cold, the introspective energy that led to winter hibernation and Netflix binges.
The light, the warm, the extroverted energy that will help you leave the cave of comforts and step into the new world.
SPRING IS HERE! The sun will cross the celestial equator and YIN + YANG energies will balance. This excites me. I feel energy and the life-force return after a long and gruelling winter. Living in Calgary AB, this doesn't mean tulips will show their faces any time soon. The blanket of snow will take time to melt and there is a good chance we have more to come. Regardless, I bask in the joy of knowing SPRING EQUINOX is here.
Many moons ago...
Before I was a budding yoga teacher.
Just after receiving my Diploma from The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.
Shortly following the birth of my son...
Vidasana Living was conceived.
The spanish phrase for "the healthy life" is "la vida sana."
In its early stages, this was a holistic nutrition consulting business. I coached in fitness centres, blogged and wrote monthly newsletters which I shared with colleagues and clients. Content included sustainable living tips, nutritional recipes, gardening ideas and more. This was before the Social Media Revolution boomed. Facebook just came on the radar and I doubt Twitter or Instagram were even a concept yet. I hustled to grow this small business. A slight burn out and realization that something was incomplete within the matrix was apparent. Something needed to change.
I caught a jet plane to India and completed my first Yoga Teacher Training...ashram styles, fully immersed. One of my teachers, who we called Smiling Swami noticed the name on my business card. He looked a me and said, "Vidasana, what does that mean?" I responded, "Swamiji, you tell me!" He pondered for a minute, looked at me with that contagious grin and said...
Vidasana in sanskrit means...that which supports your existence.
That whole journey truly changed me. It also awoke something within, that was already there. When I created the name for this company, I had did not realize the word "asana" was already built in. "Asana" means "steady, comfortable pose." The awakening came with a small adjustment period when I returned to Canada and my family. Nutrition coaching was integrated into my teaching while I created workshops, group cleanses and retreats. This too, ebbed and flowed.
8 years later I find myself in the Social Media Revolution. Teaching everything from the traditional hatha yoga I studied in India, to more science based evolutions of the ancient practice. I even turn lakes into the studio settings and offer Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga classes in the warmer months. It's almost like the caterpillar within was gobbling up everything in sight in preparation for time in the chrysalis. I have been here the whole time, the outside world could see a version of me, but I was honestly behind a veil.
Well my friends, this caterpillar is coming out of her cocoon. The butterfly is about to spread her wings. This is the beginning, of a brand new cycle and first of many more blogs to come. I intend to use this platform to share everything that I am passionate about. Yoga tips and stories. Adventure and travel highlights. The music I love both on and off the mat. Soul foods, whole foods and community. Oh the places we will go.
Let me introduce:
The untrained eye might confuse this asana for it's YANG BROTHER "baddha koṇāsana" or "bound angle pose". Some yoga teachers interchange the names seamlessly in all styles of yoga classes. #truthbomb "butterfly pose" is a Yin Yoga asana.
WHAT IS YIN YOGA
Pay attention, to the intention.
This practice targets the "yin tissues." These include the fascia that weaves its web around and through the muscles and organs. It also include the connective tissues around the joints, such as ligament and tendons. These tissues are more like plastic vs elastic. They need love, but tough love will break them. It is simple, but not necessarily easy. Sometimes it is relaxing, but don't confuse this with Restorative Yoga. The intention, is to place a safe and sustainable amount of stress on the yin tissues. It should not hurt, but it may be uncomfortable.
The 3 Tattvas of Yin Yoga
In the picture above, notice how the whole body is relaxed. The spine is rounded. The head relaxed. There does not appear to be any strain or muscular engagement. That's because there is not. I am totally relaxed and comfortable in this pose. This is widely revered hip opening posture.
HOW TO PRACTICE A YIN BUTTERFLY
While seated on the ground, bend the knees, bring the soles of the feet together and open the legs like a book. You do not need to bring the feet as close to the body as possible. Let them be where they are.
You are looking for a "GOLDILOCKS" version of this shape. NOT TOO HOT and NOT TOO COLD. If you feel pain in the hips or knees, try sitting on a block, cushion or folded blanket. This is often suggested if you notice the tops of the knees are so far off the ground, they are higher than the top of your hip bones. Do you feel pain? (sharp sensation, heat, numbness, tingling...sensation progressively worsens the longer you hold the position.) If the answer is yes, support the knees or thighs with blocks or cushions.
Take a deep INHALE and as you EXHALE...REEEEELAXXXX!!! Relax the muscles in your jaw, neck and shoulders. Relax the muscles around your spine. It is okay to round your spine if that is desired. If you feel a lot of sensation already, stay here. This is your butterfly, who cares if you don't look like the monarch.
If this is "no big deal" the body is inviting you to take it a step further. INHALE -EXHALE and slowly fold forward.
PLAY YOUR EDGE. See how far you can naturally go. Observe the varying degree of sensation. Back it up and notice the point where you actually start to feel sensation. Somewhere in-between is YOUR first edge. Not too much, not too little. There should be no force or effort to be here. The muscles should be relaxed.
HOLD STILLNESS. Assess the joints. If you feel pain or a struggle to be here, you have gone too far. Revisit the playing the edge. Notice if support is needed somewhere. For example, sometimes I experience tension in my neck if it's just hanging above the floor. When I notice this, I use a block or bolster on my feet to rest the head on. Some people need a block stack. That is ok. Now for stillness.
TIME. Marinate here for 3-5 minutes. Simply breathe. Notice what you notice. See what you see. This is the magic of YIN.
You may look and feel like the Tin Man in this position. You may look and feel very awkward. It's okay. If you feel something, you are doing it correctly. This is simply, "your" experience in "this" experience.
HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT THAN Baddha Koṇāsana?
You can sit on a block or blanket if desired. This version has us draw the feet in as close to the body as is comfortable.
Use the index, middle fingers and thumbs to hold onto the big toes. Alternatively, simply hold onto the ankles or shins. Keep the outer edges of the feet firmly grounded. Often we are told to engage the muscles in the feet too.
Sit so that the pubis is slightly in front of the tailbone. Inhale, draw the ribs slightly towards each other and the shoulder blades against the back. Lengthen the front of the torso, right up to the collar bone. Keep that! Exhale, fold forward from the front of the pelvis.
The spine should refrain from rounding. Remain engaged and hold for 10-15 breaths.
YIN + YANG yoga both hold merit.
The muscles respond well to yang yoga. Fascia responds better to yin. The key is balance. Varied movement. Varied practices. Always listen to the body. Inquire. Share your experience with teachers. Learn from each other. Pay attention to your intention and listen to the echo, the feedback during and after your practice. This is #vidasanaliving. A balanced, healthy life that supports your own existence.