Beginner questions

Please use this forum to ask any questions you may have about yoga in general or Yin Yoga in particular, or to discuss anything you have discovered that may be of general interest. Note, spam will be removed and the user deleted, and this includes putting website in your posting that are purely commercial.
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Joonas
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue May 28, 2019 4:43 am

Beginner questions

Post by Joonas »

Hi all and Bernie. Thanks for all the information you provide on this website and on Youtube. Has been really helpful. I have a few questions still about Yin Yoga if someone could shed some light on them.

1. Can I go for a jog after a Yin Yoga session if the body feels fine? Or would it be wiser to let it rest a bit longer?

2.During an asana, does it matter whether I hold my attention in my breath or in what I am feeling in the body? Obviously always going to hold some awareness in the bodily sensations to make sure that I am at a proper edge, but other than that, I mean.

3. Can I do Yin Yoga during a fast?

4. Which asanas would be good replacements for Shoelace in the flow for the hips provided on this website? I can´t do it, not even Half Shoelace.

5. Is easing in to Seal through a minute or so of Sphinx necessary if one has just done Sphinx? In a couple of Bernie´s flows, Sphinx is followed by Seal (Child´s pose in between).
Bernie
Posts: 1198
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Beginner questions for Yin Yoga

Post by Bernie »

Hi Joonas...welcome to the Forum. Thanks for your questions. You are not the only "beginner" with these concerns. Let's take them in order:

1. Can I go for a jog after a Yin Yoga session if the body feels fine? Or would it be wiser to let it rest a bit longer?

During the Yin Yoga practice our connective tissues can undergo "creep", which is why counterposes are so important. I have written about this here, and I would suggest you read that article. Whether you should go for a run right after yin depends on many things: what postures were you doing (spine work is probably okay, but a lot of leg/hip work, maybe not so good); how many counterposes did you do; how long after the practice do you plan to wait before running; and, of course, on your own uniqueness. I know many young athletes that would have no problem and you may be one of these. If you are trying for a personal best for speed, probably not a good idea. Personally, I prefer to do yin after running, not before. This is something you will have to check out and see how it feels for your body.

2.During an asana, does it matter whether I hold my attention in my breath or in what I am feeling in the body? Obviously always going to hold some awareness in the bodily sensations to make sure that I am at a proper edge, but other than that, I mean.

It is all good. Depending upon your intention you can focus on your breath, on sensations, on the feeling of energy flowing, on your thoughts or emotions, ... any anchor will help you to stay present. Personally, I find focussing on the physical sensations grounds me and keeps me present the best, but that is just me. I would not insist everyone do it that way. What works best for you?

3. Can I do Yin Yoga during a fast?

Yin is a slow practice, so doing it during a fast sound balancing (that's a joke, sort of. :wink:) During a fast, the body is using limited resources to heal, detox and re-strengthen. Any yoga practice at this time should be mild, including yin. While yin is not muscular, we are still stressing the connective tissues of the body and they will need resources to heal and develop. So, I would say "yes" but shorter holds, and shorter practices. As above, however, what is important is not what I say but what your experience is. Does it work for you? If so, go for it? If not, don't.

4. Which asanas would be good replacements for Shoelace in the flow for the hips provided on this website? I cant do it, not even Half Shoelace.

Any other posture that targets the hips could work: Square pose, Swan, Winged Dragon, even sitting cross-legged. Again, it depends upon your intentions. Are you doing Shoelace for the external rotation in the hips? If so, do the pose I mentioned. Are you doing it for flexion of the hips? If so, Butterfly could work. Are you doing for adduction of the legs? If so, Twisted Roots could work or Saddle. It depends upon your intention. This article may help you decide which poses to use for varyng intentions.

5. Is easing in to Seal through a minute or so of Sphinx necessary if one has just done Sphinx? In a couple of Bernies flows, Sphinx is followed by Seal (Childs pose in between).

No, if you have already prepared the spine via a mild extension, then you may be ready right away to go into Seal. Again, it depends upon you. How does it feel for you do Seal without another visit to Sphinx? Any pain? If so, do more Sphinx.

Joonas, many beginners love doing Yin Yoga. I personally believe it can be a great practice for beginners to yoga (and have written about this here.) Just remember: you are the one in charge. Pay attention to what is happening, and have an intention for each practice.

Let us know how it goes.
Cheers
Bernie
Joonas
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue May 28, 2019 4:43 am

Post by Joonas »

1. Okay, so I have to be careful and do some testing. Figured going for a run before yin practice was not a good option since it would warm up the muscles. Any idea to what extent does heightened muscle temperature prevent the stretch going in to the connective tissues?

2. If it is all the same, then probably the breath would not be the best option for me, since if I pay attention to it, I also subconsciously begin to control it. Am I correct that in Yin Yoga optimally the breath is allowed to flow naturally, as in breath-based meditations?

4. My intention for now is just to try different flows designed by people who know better than me :) and in your Flow for the hips which I was referring to, the poses you mentioned are already involved. Except sitting cross-legged which I can not do either. I can do other poses fine but not Shoelace, Half Shoelace and sitting cross-legged. So should I perhaps just skip Shoelace in this flow then?

I definately can understand why beginners like myself would love doing Yin Yoga. When I was contemplating what kind of yoga to first try, just a look at a yang style yoga video where the teacher was jumping from a pose to another with such speed, was disheartening. In Yin Yoga the tempo is so much calmer which is better for beginners in any new thing one is trying to learn. Also I do not have to learn so many poses right off the bat which takes surprisingly long since I want to make sure I get them and their variations right. That is why I was pleased to find Yin Yoga.
Bernie
Posts: 1198
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Post by Bernie »

1) Joonas, there is a section in YinSights which describes the best time to practice Yin Yoga. As you will see, it depends! It depends upon your intentions. If you want to get the maximum physiological stresses on the connective tissues, then yes - practice with the muscles are cooler. However, I personally find that I am a bit stiff after running, so that can be a good time to do yin! What's your experience?

2) You are normal! Most people find that, when they watch their breath, they subtly take it over. That's okay...don't worry about it, just notice that you are taking it over :wink:. However, I too prefer not to watch the breath during my yin practice but rather I like to focus on sensations: where are they? What are they? Are the changing? etc. Regarding the breath-this is yin: just allow it to be whatever it needs to be.

4) When you say you can't do Shoelace or sit with legs crossed: what do you mean? Do you mean that you physically just can't do it, or is it painful to do it, or is a matter than you don't “look good, while doing it (i.e.: knees way up by your ears)? If it is the latter, who cares what you look like?! If it is the first, what is physically stopping you? What do you feel while in the pose? If it is pain-yes, don't do it, but does the pain go away if you prop up the knees or sit higher on more cushions?

While it is great to discuss this via the internet, there is no substitute for having a real, live teacher. I would suggest you try to find someone close to you who is trained in Yin Yoga and ask her to watch your practice. Together I am sure you will find better ways to do the practice.

Cheers
Bernie
Joonas
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue May 28, 2019 4:43 am

Post by Joonas »

Just can´t physically really do them. Just tried Shoelace again with more to sit on, and I could get my upper leg on top of the thigh, so I guess that´s similar to sitting Swan. So perhaps I can try to work around that. Was a struggle trying to get into crosslegged position and once I was in something that resembled that, I felt pain in the another knee, so I stopped trying. I have healthy knees and there hasn´t been any knee pain while trying Shoelace.

It is my intention at some point to have live teacher take a look at my practice. I prefer to try things on my own first though.

Thanks again for the tips, Bernie.
Joonas
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue May 28, 2019 4:43 am

Post by Joonas »

Bernie, I do two of your flows from the Yinsights regularly, the flow for the hips and flow for the spine. I would like to add a third one into my routine, one that would involve the rest of the poses that are not in either of those, like Butterfly, Anahatasana, Camel and Bananasana. And some other variations of poses that would target the upper meridians, like Square with Cowface arms. I know which poses suit the beginning and the ending, and I know deeper poses should be preceded by milder ones for the same area. Is that enough knowledge for me to start safely putting together a sequence of my own or would it be wiser to stick to those designed by experts?
Last edited by Joonas on Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Bernie
Posts: 1198
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Post by Bernie »

Hi Joonas

No "expert" is going to know your body as well as you, so in this respect, you are THE expert. The best way to find out the answer to your questions is to try these postures and see. Start easy: short holds--max 3 minutes. Pay attention: how do you feel--while you are in the postures, as you come out and even the next day? Any pain? If not, you are probably good to go a bit longer, but don't be in a rush. Take it slow and see how it goes.

Cheers
Bernie
Joonas
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue May 28, 2019 4:43 am

Post by Joonas »

Have already tried them and there was no issues. Yes, I would never do poses that are painful, no matter who recommended them. I was just wondering whether there are some subtle factors in safe sequencing that a beginner might not be aware of. Apparently not.

Another question popped into my mind while I was writing (please just ignore me if you feel so, I don't want to be a nuisance). During Reclining twist, after having held an arm above the head for a while, tingling begins and I naturally lower my arm. I would like to try to maximize the effects on the upper meridians, so everytime I do the pose I still hold my arm above the head until the tingling begins. Was wondering whether this in itself is damaging to the nerve being compressed or does the damaging part start when the tingling does?

Much appreciated, Bernie.
Bernie
Posts: 1198
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Post by Bernie »

Personally, unless there is some underlying trauma and you are working with a physical therapist, my mantra is “no pain, no pain!, And, this includes nerve pain like tingling. Lower the arms. The theoretical benefits of stimulating your meridian lines does not outweigh the real harm to the nerves. Nerve damage can be occurring during the stress but you may not feel the pain while in the pose, but after coming out or even the next day.
Joonas
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue May 28, 2019 4:43 am

Post by Joonas »

I do lower the arms when the tingling begins. I was asking about the time before the tingling predictably occurs. If one knows the tingling begins let's say after 2 minutes, safe to hold the arm raised until that?

"The theoretical benefits of stimulating your meridian lines does not outweigh the real harm to the nerves."

Am I interpreting correctly that you are not a big believer in stimulating meridians and getting benefits out of that?
Bernie
Posts: 1198
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Post by Bernie »

Let me clearer: I am a believer in stimulating meridians! But not if in the process you are harming yourself. The fact that you get tingling indicates that you are compressing or stretching your nerves. That is not a good thing to do. Even though it takes a while for your nerves to talk to you and complain, I wouldn't say that it is okay to do it up to the point of pain. Don't do it at all! Sometimes the pain happens right away, in which case the answer is clear: come out. Sometimes it happens later. Now you have to determine what was causing the pain and resolve not to do that again.

In the end, its your body...you have to decide what is worth a risk. I personally would not do it and don't do it (I too get painful tingling in my hands and arms like you, but not anymore, because I stopped going so deep into these postures.)

Cheers
Bernie
Joonas
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue May 28, 2019 4:43 am

Post by Joonas »

"Let me clearer: I am a believer in stimulating meridians!"

Okay, I believe you :) The wording in that phrase made me wonder.

From now on will keep the arms lowered in the pre-tingling phase as well. Thank you for the tip, Bernie!
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