Week 14: Yin Yoga at TripSpace

Life is about balance, so what better to follow up the grit and grunt of last week’s strongman than an evening of yin yoga harnessing the power of a full moon. Disclaimer: this one gets a bit spiritual!

What They Say:

Happily at home in the TripSpace arches in the heart of Haggerston, Hackney. Yoga classes run every day of the week here.

Nestled amongst and inspired by all the other wonderful expressions of movement that the Trip Studio offers.

We aim to offer classes that challenge, uplift and inspire all. Inviting you to connect physically with the body and the breath in order to liberate the mind and nourish the soul.

Our teachers are warm and sincere and welcome all levels to come and take part.

My Experience:

My friend Toral told me about this yin yoga evening with teacher Jonelle, who she said led wonderful classes. I was in.

Yin Yoga is the slow type: get into a passive position and hold it. I actually do yin yoga most days through the online ROMWOD programme. My sessions are short (normally under 20 minutes) but they leave me feeling great. I often save them for before bed and drift right into slumber. I had never done a teacher-led yin session though, so I was really looking forward to it. Not only that, this was a special one as it was a full moon and there was going to be a gong bath – a whole new experience for me!

The studio is set in railway arches in Hackney (quick tangent – how awesome is it that so many unused railway arches have now been converted into fitness studios… such great use of wasted space!). Fairy lights adorned the entrance and the windows were slightly steamed up from the inside – very inviting on a drizzly Sunday night.

The walls of the arch were unadorned, and the beautiful bare bricks enclosed the space. A huge cabinet separating the studio from the entrance housed mats, bolsters, blankets, blocks and straps. We grabbed what we needed and set ourselves up. At the front of the room, Jonelle set up an altar with crystals, sage, feathers and moon water, and we were invited to leave ‘energy’ jewellery there to charge through the class. I don’t have any energy jewellery, but I rather love this idea! Alongside the gong man, Andrea, was setting up his gong and three copper bowls.

Yin yoga can be done by anyone – you don’t have to be flexi! Jonelle started by speaking individually with a few people with injuries or restricted mobility and explained how they should approach the positions – every position has progressions and no two people will look the same when doing them.

And so it began. We started with a few minutes lying on our backs on a bolster, hands overhead – the most comfortable position ever! I could feel my chest and thoracic opening up with every breath. From there, we moved through a series of poses, each one clearly explained and demonstrated. We held each pose for minutes at a time, but it never felt awkward. Sometimes when I do yin in my kitchen I get a bit fidgety, but there was none of that here. Throughout the poses we were bathed in the sounds of the gong and Jonelle spoke about all sorts of things… the focus for the session was forgiveness, and we returned to that theme several times.

What I loved was the sense of playfulness Jonelle got across. This wasn’t all serious stuff, there was light laughter throughout! In one pose, she explained “this position is called the “Rolling” Panda because some people fall over…. and there we go! We have a roller!!”. She made us feel totally comfortable with our own limits. If we couldn’t go that deep in a pose – no drama! Just do what feels good. There was no pressure, and no sense that other people in the room were ‘better’ than others.

As the session moved on, Jonelle and Andrea moved about the room and I could feel the floorboards moving where they stepped. There was a real sense of engagement with everything around me. The gong was an all-encompassing experience. It wasn’t just a sound, it resonated through the whole room. Sometimes it wasn’t even clear which direction the sound was coming from. The highlight was when, deep into a long saddle pose, I could hear the gong getting closer and then it was ON my torso. The vibrations connected with my breath and it kinda felt like I was creating the sound. This was something I’ve never experienced before and it was magical. I know it sounds a bit hippy, but hey, it really was amazing!

As we moved to our final pose, the meditation, Andrea went to town on the gongs and Jonelle moved around the room spritzing our faces with rose moon water. I have no idea how long we spent there, but it was deeply relaxing and I finished the session feeling utterly restored and positive about life.

As a counterbalance to all the other fitness stuff I love to do, this was perfect. Driving across London after the session was a joyful experience – it’s not very often you get to go past all the sites with hardly anyone around, and this city is bloody amazing! I marvelled at how small I felt amidst the city highrises, and how beautiful Southbank is all lit up at night. As the flat light of Big Ben’s face came into view down the Embankment I couldn’t help but think of that final stretch of the London Marathon, which always makes me smile, and then a cruise down the Mall past Buckingham Palace on the way home. I really felt grateful that all of this is right on my doorstep… I hope that sense of gratitude lasts!

In Summary

This was a very special session. Not so much fitness, but restorative for the body and soul.

I’ll get back to the normal sweaty procedures next week!

TripSpace offers all sorts of yoga and dance classes, with yin club every Sunday night led by different teachers.

Where: Jonelle Lewis at TripSpace, Haggerston

Cost:  £12 drop in.

How to book: http://www.tripspace.co.uk

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