In this cross-training series I will be trying out different classes and reviewing how they can improve and inform your core pole practice. I believe have a holistic approach to your practice is essential to ensure you are training smart, preventing injury and getting the most from your time and effort. Please consult a medical professional before embarking on any new exercise regimes.
What: Hot Yin Yang Yoga
Where: We Love Yoga, Chester
What You Need: Towels (1 x Large, 1 x Small), Water Bottle, Leggings, Vest Top / Sports Bra, Yoga Mat Optional
What is Yin Yang yoga?
Yin Yang yoga differs from traditional yoga that you may have tried, in that it avoids the intense dynamic, strengthening focus that many yoga disciplines make a priority. Yin yoga itself is a fairly new practice, which sees focus on the feminine principle of Yin, and is based upon a more passive style of yoga which aims to stretch deep into the connective tissues and encourage meditative relaxation. Whilst the Yang element still refers to the traditional strengthening and dynamic practice you may be used to, because it in balanced by the Yin, the class will be much different that what you may have previously experienced.
What are the benefits of hot Yin Yang yoga?
Firstly, I did this in a hot yoga studio, so I’m not sure how my experiences will differ to those taken in a regular studio. Secondly, depending on your level of flexibility, this class will be a different experience in terms of difficulty; for me, because I am already quite flexible, but not Amy Hazel level by any stretch of the imagination, and used to the heat of a hot yoga studio, the class was comfortable and enjoyable. If you are not used to the heat, and suffer from any conditions related to fainting, low blood pressure and so on, I would recommend you consult your doctor before taking on such a class.
The heat of the hot yoga studio definitely helped to loosen up my muscles and relax my body in preparation for the deep stretching, and allows you to get the most out of the flexibility benefits of such a class. Unlike flow yoga, each of the poses in this class are held for at least 2-5 minutes, allowing you to relax into the stretch, and turn your focus inwards into your body and how it feels. If you have read my post on body awareness HERE, you will know that I believe this type of mindful practice is essential to becoming a better dancer, so for me the meditative element of Yin Yang yoga is a big benefit.
A lot of the poses in this class focus on opening up the hips. For splits progress such focus is great in helping your ROM (range of motion) and improve flexibility in the hip area. Most of the focus goes on this area because non-poling muggle folk tend to have very tight hip flexors from office jobs and lots of sitting, and so on. There was some back and shoulder flexibility work, and for myself this was great because I love working on that area.
However, don’t think that the stretching in this class is going to be of similar intensity to the flexibility stretching you may do in your pole studios or at home. Although they always encourage you to find you ‘edge’ (the space in which you have a sensation of discomfort in a stretch, but also passive and relaxed in that pose without actively pushing yourself further), you will probably find this class disappointing if you are looking for a hard-core flexibility session. If you are already over splitting and brushing your teeth with your feet then the flexibility benefits of this class will likely be minimal.
If your level of flexibility comes in the ‘average to good’ range then this type of class would be a great addition to your weekly practice. The heat relaxes the muscles, and because you hold each stretch for a long time, your ligaments, tendons and muscles all get a good stretch. However, for someone who already has advanced flexibility I wouldn’t recommend the class for improving that specifically, though it is still worth it for a less intense maintenance stretch between more hardcore flexibility training.
The biggest benefit of hot Yin Yang yoga, and why I would recommend this class, is for the meditative and mindful practice it incorporates. I am a big advocate for improving overall body awareness, and yoga is a great guided practice to help you get in touch with your body and forget about the outside world and any worries you might have, at least for those 60-90 minutes. So many of us are so busy, stressed and preoccupied that we forget to take care of ourselves. We think that simply getting stronger or more bendy will make us better pole dancers, but the health of your mind, and the connection between your mind and body, is just as important in your journey to become the best pole dancer you can be.