This week has been quite an "interesting" week for me [insert: interesting as in suffering from slightly inflamed back muscles, coming down with a stomach flu, having mile-high orders for Pastry Pals, and on the verge of burning out]. I slodged through practice today, opting for Primary, and yet I found myself having to pause every now and then to regain some energy and to try to ignore my tensed back muscles. I'm pretty sure this fatigue is a combination of overbaking and just a bad practice week for me. My teacher even chuckled and teased me when he came over to adjust me in supta kurmasana (I could barely grasp my hands): "How are you feeling today? Light and flexible?"
I am literally burning out, and so I signed up for a Yin Yoga class after mysore today to "cool down." After all, I need to balance my yang practice with some yin practice. I've only taken a couple of Yin Yoga classes before this, but have never really thought about the difference between yin yoga and restorative. Both use an ubiquitous amount of bolsters, blankets, and blocks. Both are held in dimly lit rooms with candles. Most postures are prone or supine, and held for a ridiculously long time.
But I think the class today was designed just for me.
The first thing our teacher said upon starting the class was about recharging ourselves via inward reflection and meditation. In our society today we are talking nonstop, whether by literally speaking, emailing, texting, writing, calling, etc..., we are always expressing ourselves. Not that it's a bad thing, but the act of talking has a pitta nature, or a firey nature, if you will. It burns you out very quickly, and you have no control of where your energy goes. In contrast, the communication amongst the people living hundreds or thousands of years ago is more than a text away. Actually, they probably had to walk a couple of miles to see their neighbor. They had less distraction from technology, and they couldn't do much after the sun had gone down. Thus, they had more time for self-reflection, to dwell within themselves, to observe and learn. They knew how to balance and contain their energy.
Meditation, my teacher said, serves as the container that can preserve our energy. Meditation is like the relief you feel when you finally got home in time to charge your iPhone or Android that ran dangerously low on battery from Whatsapping or playing too much Angry Birds during the day. Our sit bones are the adapters that connect us to the ground, drawing energy back into ourselves. If we learn how to maintain and polish this container, we are less likely to burn ourselves out, and we bring more focus into our daily tasks.
The rest of the class was spent on gentle but deep stretches, held for about 5 minutes each. The teacher emphasized on feeling our bodies in the pose, rather than putting our bodies there. Be with it, not go into it--a characteristic often glossed over in Ashtanga or any vinyasa-based yoga due to the fast-moving sequences.
Although I shamelessly admit I dozed off more than three times during the class (how did I manage to snooze during pigeon?!), I left the class somewhat more recharged than when I left the Mysore room that morning (I was drained). Definitely worth the time 2-3 times a week! :)