Yesterday I had the extreme pleasure of taking the Yin Yoga and Shimmy workshop facilitated by lovely Lauryn Elise Peterson Higgins of Zanzibar studio.  As well as teaching bellydance Lauryn and leading her own troupe, Mirabai, is a certified yoga instructor and also, in conjunction with her mother (who was at the workshops) is a constructive living instructor.  Here’s a pic of her:

I hadn’t taken the time to look up “Yin Yoga” prior to the workshop so really had no idea what to expect.  I was feeling tired and jet-laggy but was determined to go along anyway.  I’m so glad that I did.  Yin Yoga was a very mellow form of yoga.  Poses were focused on working the connective tissue rather than muscles. The poses were held for 2-5 minutes and didn’t involve muscular stretches – rather we went into a pose that was comfortable enough to stay in for that length of time but still gently stretched out the connective tissue in the joints we focused on.  There’s an interesting article about Yin Yoga here.

I immensely enjoyed the style that Lauryn taught with – it encouraged all the participants to listen to their bodies and do movements in a way that was good for them.  She thanked those who chose to take one of the alternative poses she offered for every position in the class, thanking them for listening to their body.  For me personally it was helpful both in getting past my jetlag but also helping with some tightness I had in my knees and hips that had been aggravated by the flights (I don’t understand how it works but flying makes my knees tighten up and often makes them ache).

After the yoga session ended Lauryn then took us through some exercises to help with the transition to the Shimmy Workshop.  These involved, amongst other things pulling our fingers gently then with energy, brushing our hands over our legs and massaging our scalps.  It was a nice way to go from the still, gentleness of the Yin Yoga to the energetic, dynamic shimmy time.

The shimmy workshop was so much fun!  We covered 3/4 shimmies, which I and many people from the UK will know as the Egyptian Walk.  We practiced doing 3/4 ‘up’ shimmies and 3/4 ‘down’ shimmies, both stationary and travelling.  We also practiced these travelling with a twist in the step (which reminded me of the Hagalla with a shimmy but I’m not sure it’s the same thing).  We practiced knee-driven shimmies which we held for ages(!) and then practices layering these both with upper-body movements and with lower-body movements.  It was great!

Towards the end of the workshop Lauryn put on some pop (Lady Gaga and Shakira), we practiced to this in front of the mirrors, then went into a big ‘shimmy circle’ practicing what we’d been taught, free-forming a little and then did the grapevine step, all touching hands in the circle.  It was beautiful.

Because I muddled up the times I had 30 minutes to wait before my lift was due to arrive which allowed me the time to talk with Lauryn and Miranda Cagle (also a Zanzibar teacher and Mirabai member).  I’d met both of these ladies years ago when I first went to Zanzibar and they both had fuzzy recollections of me.  We had a great blether and they suggested the next time I come over I get in touch in advance and see about holding a workshop at Zanzibar myself. It’ll probably be Sept/Oct before I get back over so who knows what my latest fascination will be, but right now I like the idea of teaching a Zaar workshop.  That or hands 🙂

Hope you all have a wonderful New Year’s eve and I’ll see you in 2010!