I was in downtown Los Angeles walking to my car after attending a meeting. It was a typical sunny and warm afternoon in southern California. My meeting went well and I was anxious to get to my car and to go get some food. I arrived upon the corner of a busy intersection waiting for the pedestrian light to signal ‘cross.’ Although I was alone on my side there were a couple of other people on the opposite side. One was a business man in a light grey suit and the other was a student jamming out to music. After the cross walk signaled to cross I began to go across the street. While I carried my meeting planner in one hand, my mind was contemplating on where to go get food. Then all of a sudden out of the corner of my eye I saw a car racing right at me. Miraculously, in a Milli-second my mind raced at lightening speed accessing it’s survival options. This car was coming at me way too fast to jump forward. Jumping back also wasn’t an option. Going to the side would be even worse. Their bumper would nail me right at the knees, buckling me over, and probably slamming my head into the pavement.
So, what do you do when all those options are taken away from you? You JUMP! You jump as fast as possible, because now it’s ‘do or die.’ So that’s what I did, my brain issued it’s command, flooded me with a tsunami of adrenaline and I jumped straight up. About this time the driver of the car finally noticed me and slammed their brakes, but it was too late. As I started to float down from my Michale Jordan superhero jump, their car came right underneath me, and I crashed into the windshield igniting a sound so loud people blocks away could hear it. All of a sudden I was flying through the air for what seemed like an eternity. I remember very distinctly noticing the rich blue sky and the bright golden sun as I levitated through the air.
In an instant this poetic moment was shattered when I finally came crashing down. The thing though was, that I actually came magically crashing down on my two feet. There I was miraculously standing in the middle of a busy intersection ins the middle of downtown Los Angeles thinking “what the hell just happened?!” The driver behind the car was in total shock, the student’s jaw had fallen to the ground, and in slow motion I could see the business man running over to me. Oh, and that day planner that I was carrying had somehow ended up inside of the driver’s car, and my ink pen wedged under their winshield wiper blade. Some things physics can’t explain!
As the business person helped me over to the sidewalk the sirens began to get closer and closer. Turns out someone in office building a ways off called 911. After the paramedics checked me out, and the police filed a report, it sunk in I had somehow narrowly escaped what could have been a life crippling accident with just minor scrapes and a limp. I declined to go to the hospital and began to hobble back to my car. Every time I took a step on my right foot I could my knee would give out and it definitely wasn’t pretty. After months of physical therapy my knee finally started to get little bit better. Sometimes it bothered me when I would walk, and jogging was definitely out of the question.
That is until I found Yin Yoga. I would practice with a Yin yoga Dvd with Paul Grilley who also gave a discourse on the science of the practice. I also attended live classes with Bryan Kest who would always have this pose in his sequence where you bring your knees together, spread your feet wider than your hips and sit down between the ankles. Bryan must have loved this pose because he would always do it 2 or 3 times EVERY class! At first it was painful, very painful. But it was the good pain and Bryan was always good about not pushing too far.
Within just a few weeks of practicing Yin Yoga my knee had completely healed and not only did it feel better but actually my whole entire body felt incredible. Now I’m able to run distances 20+ miles…through the mountains! It was Yin yoga that healed me and ever since it’s been an integral component to my personal practice for both it’s physical and mental benefits. Plus, it’s the fountain of youth!
Naturally when you discover something amazing you want to share it with as many people as possible. I started incorporating it at the end of my power yoga classes. I even started teaching a class at a popular gym called Equinox Fitness in Santa Monica. We called the class “Yoga Stretch” because back then Yin classes were extremely rare. People loved it! I was actually surprised because I thought people would be super bored. I mean who wants to sit around doing nothing, exposing very uncomfortable places in the body, and also dealing with a challenging mental component?! Whatever you’ve been running away from, finally has a chance to catch up with you and that can be pretty confronting. But somehow those students in my first ever Yin class got it and it soon became a necessity and not just a luxury.
From there I started teaching Yin yoga in teacher trainings and retreats and although it wasn’t love at first sight for a lot of people, I did notice that it seemed to fill a big void that was missing. Students reported to me that long standing injuries were becoming healed, their sleep improved immensely, the body’s flexibility increased, stress levels dropped, and most importantly they began to notice positive benefits with their relationships and career.
Then we filmed a Yin yoga practice for The Ultimate Yogi and that spread the power of Yin to a whole other level. All sorts of people were becoming introduced to Yin for the first time, and even professional athletes were reaching out sharing praise about how Yin yoga was helping their game, and was spreading to their teammates.
Now there are a lot more Yin classes available at yoga studios across the world and I couldn’t be happier to see it spread. I’m actually in the middle of writing a book on Yin Yoga and can’t wait to share it. The world is moving so fast now, there is so much external stimulation, and advances in outer technology. Yin Yoga provides us an opportunity to slow down, to go inside, to go deep. Some cultures call it the sacred pause. It’s within that pause or that gap of stillness that we come back to our inner most essence. By dropping into this space we find our center. When we are centered things don’t throw us out of balance so easily. We find that now we are able to move through the world, even in all of it’s challenges, with more grace, steadiness and nobility.
So let’s get into those connective tissues, let’s bring vitality into those joints, and let’s dive deep into that mind with some Yin together. I hope that as you move through the “Yoga 30 for 30” program you get to experience the magic of yoga and especially the Yin class. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do…Be the Change!