Yin Yoga on the Beach

Intention and Attention never cease to amaze me. I set the intention of achieving something new a day and I’ve given it my attention through blogging. This morning I woke to find a text message from my first scheduled client asking to reschedule his for another day, and an email sent the night prior from my second scheduled client also asking to move her session to another day.

I’ve also set an intention to do more yoga. It helps center me and afterward, I feel so expansive and free…like I’m floating on air.

I irregularly participate in a Meetup Group that hosts guided yoga classes on the beach at 9 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Typically I have client calls at that time and haven’t been able to make a class in at least three months. With both my morning sessions rescheduling, this was the opportunity I needed to attend.

I bounced out of bed, changed into my yoga attire and took Tucker (my 3 year old mutt) out for his morning walk. Then I came home, made breakfast, drank some coffee and loaded up my gear on my bike. The class is hosted at the lifeguard tower number 14, which is about a 20-25 minute bike ride from my house. I made it there with 15 minutes to spare, which I prefer because then I have time to just stare at the waves and breath.

This morning, the ocean was as smooth as a lake with slow rippling waves. After setting up my towel and yoga mat, I sat cross-legged staring out at the grey mirror of water reflecting the overcast sky. Our resident dolphins were making their way South along the coastline. They move in small pods, porpousing up and down just beyond the break. Sometimes they surf the waves, but this morning’s water was too gentle for that. Watching them slowly bob along is one of the most peaceful and calming experiences. I could watch them for hours mesmerized at their graceful yet powerful movements and sleek beauty.

Soon after they moved out of sight, the yoga instructor arrived. She introduced herself as Chanda, who was substituting for the normal Tuesday morning instructor. We chit-chatted as the other students arrived and set up and I learned that she had just returned from a 6-month trip to India, Vietnam and Thailand. She taught meditation retreats and attending some yoga and meditation trainings.

She shared with the class that she doesn’t normally teach Yin Yoga, that Yang was more her style, but that she’d do her best and incorporate some of her own learning while abroad.

Here’s where I confess that while I have attended some of the Meetup Group’s outdoor yoga classes here and there over the past two years, I have no idea what style each class focused on, let alone how to tell them apart. If you were to name all the different yoga styles, I would look at you blankly as anything outside of the word “yoga” doesn’t register with me. Except maybe Bikram. I tried that once in high school and the whole time felt like someone was standing on my chest. I just couldn’t breathe. The experience of feeling like suffocating is not one I want to repeat again, thank you.

I asked Chanda what was different about Yin Yoga than attending other days.

“It’s much slower. You’ll hold poses a lot longer and while all yoga focuses on breathing, it will play a bigger role. Most people do Yin Yoga for relaxation,” she replied.

I didn’t realize that today’s yoga session would be so different than those I’ve attended in the past. I guess I hadn’t made Tuesdays before. So this would be my new experience of the day. Imagine that?! I didn’t even have to think up one – how awesome!

And wow – the experience was beyond my expectations and synchronistic with Life Coaching tools. The breathing, the mantras, and the focus on self-healing was an hour-long meditation experienced by my whole body.

Chandra incorporated Nadi Shodhan Pranayama, which is an alternating nostril breathing technique I had experienced for the first time two weeks ago during a Deepak Chopra guided meditation. The Sanskrit name translates to “subtle energy clearing breathing technique” and that’s exactly what it was.

When our cognitive mind would begin to chatter on about the past or future, Chandra would guide us back to the present with centering mantras like “Sat Nam” (translation: I am Truth) or “Peace In, Peace Out.”

Just prior to final Savasana, Chanda taught us about our Koshas (5 Layers of Being) which include the physical body (self-explanatory), energy body (our life energy), mental body (our sensory and motor activities), and the intellect body (our higher mind and consciousness). This was the first time I had been exposed to this concept and soaked the information up like a sea-sponge.

Then we cleared our energy body by bringing our awareness to our hands and using them to heal each Chakra starting with our Root, which was “I support you.” Then we moved to our Sacral Chakra, where we repeated silently “I accept you.” After that it was our Solar Plexus, and we used “I have faith in you.” With our Heart Chakra, we chanted, “I love you,” and with our Throat Chakra, we used “I hear you.” At our Third Eye, our mantra was “I see you” and finally, for our Crown Chackra it was, “I surrender to you.” With each chakra my hands would tingle and I could feel heat emanating from them into my body.

This was one of the most spiritual and body-connected hours I have ever felt. This says a lot coming from a woman who grew up in a born-again Christian household. I am so excited I have found Yin Yoga and grateful for this enlightening and serendipitous experience.

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