I went to a yin yoga class today in an attempt to stretch out the muscles supporting my back, which decided to seize up last Saturday, leaving me partially immobile for most of this week. Yin focuses on holding stretches for several minutes at a time, which is great for people like me who are wrecking our spines and hips by sitting in front of a computer typing or on a phone scrolling (it’s all hurting us, or at least me) many more hours of the day than is a sane idea.
The whole class was great but I’m here to share with you that if you don’t have a lot of time, you can do one thing and probably feel better. It was the first pose we did and it’s called the dangle. (I’m used to it being called “forward fold” in hatha and vinyasa flow, but this is yin so I dangled.) I was very nervous at the beginning of this class, because my back has hurt in the way that things hurt so badly and so maddeningly that it’s all I want to talk about. Like when it’s humid and everyone walks around repeating “it’s so HUMID” like it’s new and terrible information. Also usually no one cares, but that’s another story.
The teacher told us to dangle, so I creaked myself into a bent over position, hanging over my legs to touch my feet, really hoping I could reverse the motion when the time came. She wanted us hanging loose, so loose I hung. As I did this I could feel every broken, compressed centimeter of my calves and quads and hips, how they’re all jammed up. No WONDER I can’t move parts of my back, because this problem starts at my toes and works all the way up.
The instruction while we were dangling was to leave stuff on the floor. Seriously. Yoga teachers are usually quite polite and into consent and so they’re always inviting us to do things. “I invite you to breathe.” “I invite you to exhale.” “I invite you to set an intention for your practice today.” Today it was “I invite you to leave whatever isn’t serving you there on the floor.”
Now, I invite you into my typical thought process during chill yoga poses, up to and including final relaxation:
I am out of peanut butter
the lyrics to “Shout to the Top” by Style Council
Am I dangling right?
How much gas do I have? When will I need to get gas?
I’m already preemptively too tired to stop for peanut butter damn
Wnere can I find the first three episodes of The Good Place streaming for free because they’re $1.99 on demand and they took them off of Hulu.
Recurring snippet of lifelong (since college) earworm of “You Should Hear How She Talks About You” by Melissa Manchester.
Do I have a life plan? I can’t pick a yoga intention so I always end up with tnree so how do I pick a life plan?
She touched my mat.
There are doughnuts in this strip mall
And so on.
So today when she invited us to leave stuff on the floor I did a similarly disjointed, yet massive and sudden, inventory of my life. The books in the back of my car hit the mat. Several emails, a few text messages, a couple trash voicemails, gone. My refusal to cancel my Hello Fresh order on weeks I’m going out of town—bye. 45’s tweets. Please floor, take them.
And it kind of worked. It could be because the instructor’s voice was calm and mildly commanding, with a tone that suggested that this was real. That there was some practical magic in the dangle. You could dump that garbage from your brain and/or 3D life onto the wooden floor between your blocks and it was done and gone.
Its something you can totally try at home.