The latest from Catherine’s USA yoga tour– Yinki class in San Diego

Last weekend I was in San Diego for the American Public Health Association conference, which is huuuge– at least 12,000 people were expected to attend. That means a lot of walking to and fro in a big convention center (and to a nearby enormous hotel for more meetings), and interacting with a lot-a-lot of people (albeit friendly public health folks).

I’m a classic extrovert (although the latest research and commentary is critical of the distinction and is at least reimagining it; here’s one newer take on it).  However, even I can get tired of all that interaction with crowds of people all day long.  So what’s the perfect antidote to a day of conferencing? an evening yoga class, of course.

It has been so much fun this year checking out yoga classes in other cities where I’ve been traveling for work. In July I encountered yin yoga for the first time at a lovely little studio in Tucson, AZ.  I wrote glowingly about how relaxing and also intense it was and could be.

Apparently I was late to the yin yoga party; Natalie and Cate have both enjoyed and posted about it here and here.  Others of our bloggers and readers also love it and some of them teach it, too.

Checking out yoga (or any fitness opportunities) in a new place requires a bit of advance research. I was looking for studios that offered classes I was interested in at times I could make it, and were also relatively convenient to where I was staying. Yeah, I guess all that’s obvious. But I was also looking for classes that seemed interesting or different from what I usually do at home or at my local studio.  And, for me, vigorous vinyasa was not on the table, as I’m still recovering from my sprained ankle (it’s going to take a few months to get back strength and balance. Sigh).

Imagine my surprise and curiosity when I saw this:

YINKI (registered trademark) (Yin yoga plus Reiki)

I was determined to check this out.  I know what yin yoga is, and I have some idea about what reiki is, but hadn’t experienced them together in one class.

Also, I just love the name Yinki.  It reminds me of the Teletubbies, in a good way.

The teletubbies– Po in red, Laa-Laa in yellow, Dipsy in green, and Tinky Winky in purple.

By the way, even the Teletubbies do yoga.  Well, actually, they watch some live-action kids do yoga. However, they seem flexible and rubbery enough to do many poses.  You can check out the episode  here

Back to the yinki class. Full disclosure: I am a reiki skeptic. However, the yin part of yinki was enough to get me in the door. And look what I saw when I entered this beautiful space:

A large Buddha head on a corner shrine with candles (lit during class).

The studio, called The Little Yoga Studio, is indeed little, but beautifully fitted up with warm wood paneled walls and honey-colored wood floors.  I borrowed a mat from them, got my blocks, bolster, strap, and even a little eye pillow, and proceeded to set up. 

The studio before class.

I was careful to put my mat in an inconspicuous spot, as the regulars at my studio can get a little territorial about their spaces.  Maybe it’s a Boston thing; after all, Bostonians are notorious for saving parking spaces in winter after they’ve shoveled their cars out.  Lawn chairs and trash cans are the favored spot markers, but just about anything obtrusive will do.

A milk crate with large doll in it, keeping watch over a recently shoveled parking space in Boston.

However, when I asked these women whether I was in anyone’s way, they looked friendly but quizzical.  They told me I could go anywhere I liked.  Okay, then..

Friendly women hanging out before yoga class.

What followed was 75 minutes of sometimes intense, sometimes soothing yin yoga.  The teacher went around to each of us and put her hands on us during every extended pose. That was the Reiki part. She also used some essential oils (I noticed the lavender especially) that she had on her hands, which smelled nice and not overpowering.

I didn’t feel anything unusual during the Reiki, but it was really nice to be personally attended to, and it felt comforting and not at all intrusive. I admit that I don’t mind at all when a yoga teacher touches me for adjustment; YMMV. If you’re not feeling touch-friendly, this is probably not the class for you.  But it felt therapeutic, business-like as it were, and fine.

Finding ways to be active, to move and stretch, to connect with how I’m feeling during conference travel is more important to me these days. Partly it’s because travel is harder on my 56-year-old body.  Air travel is uncomfortable no matter what, and my plane to LAX seemed even more tin-can-like than usual. Then there’s jet lag, restaurant food, reception food, and more sitting than I would prefer. 

There’s another reason I like to be active while traveling: connecting to a local studio or local active event makes me feel more at home, in part because I’m around people who are at their home. It’s a good way to learn about  potentially new-to-us ways that people do the things we do.  I’ve found this by doing some local group rides while traveling, and visiting local yoga places is a new fun thing that’s easier to do than cycling– less gear required, and if I pick the wrong level by mistake, I’m still in the same studio with everyone else. That is, all yoga classes are no-drop.  I like that.

Fear not, with woman doing crow pose (I think).  She’s doing an arm balance, which I still cannot do…

Dear readers– have you had good (or bad) experiences dropping in on yoga or exercise or other classes while you were out of town? Do you recommend this?  Do you have any tips? I’d love to hear from you.

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