Under Pressure

Last night I went to Flavorpill‘s monthly decompression, Get Your Dance On. It’s kind of my ideal situation: great DJs, friendly people, lots of gorgeous space, and healthy snacky treats. All before 11pm. They serve free kombucha, wine and chocolate all night, plus coconut water and granola bars. (Well, I guess it’s not free it’s $20, but that gets you a week at Yogaworks, too.) Totally hippie but WAY fewer men with ponytails than the old Body Temple parties. Maybe zero. And like 90% of the crowd is dancing.

Kombucha (fermented tea originating in Russia or maybe China) is my vote for best party drink. A little caffeine, a little alcohol, a little sugar = recipe for success. Plus, it’s too fizzy and sour to drink too much. It’s like Red Bull, except not metallic or chemical. The (locally brewed) ginger flavor was perfect.

The highlight of the night, however, was the sauna. I skipped it last time, but the well-traveled friend I was with this time was RARING to spend a Friday night in the traditional Swedish way: in the Bad House. (Technically, we should have brought in some fruit and beer, and played chess after, but we settled for coconut water and chatter.) The sauna is small, with room for ten people max, but we met some fellow dancers and soon relaxed. Twenty minutes in, a cold shower, ten minutes more, another cold shower, and I was limp. It was honestly the perfect way to end an evening. Can my future dream-house architect take note?

On our way out, we stopped in the downstairs studio. The musicians were packing up their drums, and a few stragglers still sat still. I was so relaxed from the sauna that I could really feel the tightness of a few over-danced muscles, so I asked for ten minutes to stretch. As my friends chatted, I went through a bit of yoga. (And since we were in an actual yoga studio, you could do this post-party without being a circus attraction!)

Post-sauna yoga was a revelation. Obviously I had to be careful to not overstretch my already loose joints, but I have never felt such relaxation in the poses. One definition of asana practice is “sthiram sukham” the postures should be “hard AND soft” and I’ve always struggled with the soft part. I’m athletic, I love the feeling of burning muscles and complete can-I-really-do-this focus. But the softness of my back in a low lunge made me realize that I’m usually working with suspension cables stretched tighter than the Brooklyn Bridge. I expect the yoga poses to stretch and therefore relax me; it turns out I could use a little help. I’m a little tightly wound.

Physically relaxed, it was SO much easier to hold still in the poses the fidgety tension was all sweated out. I felt like I was falling from one pose into another. It was so easy to decide what pose to do next; I could really feel the tightness that needed attention. Tension was abnormal, instead of normal. I noticed all sorts of subtle details and feelings that are normally subsumed in my stiff-as-a-board back. I felt like I was made of water, instead of wood.

So the takeaway here is: Get a massage. Go to the sauna. Whatever your muscles need. It’s a necessity, not a luxury. Tension is like being deaf to yourself. Muscles that are short and tight can only do and say so much.

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For posterity: Post-Party Yoga (10 minutes)

Low Lunge Ashwa Sanchalanasana
Revolved Lunge Parvritta Ashwa Sanchalanasana
Pyramid Parsvottanasana
Wide-Legged Forward Bend Prasarita Padottanasana
Gate Parighasana
Forward Bend (with shoulder stretch) Uttanasana with hands clasped behind back
Runner’s Stretch Janu Sirsasana
Revolved Runner’s Stretch Parvritta Janu Sirsasana
Seated Spinal Twist Ardha Matsyendrasana
Standing Half Frog Urdhva Ardha Bhekasana? quad stretch, just holding one foot
Standing Back Bend Anuvittasana
Standing Neck Stretch Hasta Jalandhara, I guess

Yum. Ask Google for the images if you’re curious.

2 thoughts on “Under Pressure”

  1. this is a perfect description of what i ran into on the street last. a usually very tightly wound- but inspiring yogoer/master who had clearly had such a relaxing/rejuvenating experience, that even i on my bike, post punk rock show–felt more relaxed in your presence. love the post party yoga.

  2. :) thank you, punk rock hula hoop bike yoga master, it was a very good exchange of buzzes to run into you :D who knows what else will unwind from this big ball of yarn?

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