New York-raised, Byron Bay-based, yogi Tahl Rinsky shares how to get the most of every yoga class with a surprising practise to get you ‘in the zone’ faster than any downward dog.
As I roll out my yoga mat, I’m unsure of what to expect from the yoga teacher who takes Chris Hemsworth and wife Elsa Pataky through their daily asanas. Tahl Rinsky heads up the ‘dynamic yoga’ programme on the Hollywood couple’s recently-launched Centr app – and her lean, toned limbs suggests her kind of yoga might be more ‘yang’ than ‘yin’.
I’m in Hemsworth-hinterland (otherwise known as Byron Bay), so am on high alert for a Thor spotting in the quaint Ewingsdale Hall where myself and 15 other wannabe yogis have gathered. Add the fact that it’s been a few years since my last ashtanga class, and I’m feeling far from zen. Such a state of alertness is doing nothing for my mental clarity, and I find it hard to focus on the calming words that Tahl is saying.
That is, until she asks the class to tap their wrists and activate the Breathe app on our Apple Watch Series Five. I’m surprised, because most yoga teachers I’ve encountered want to minimise the lure of technology while on the mat, not actively seek out more of it. But Tahl explains that by doing the app’s 60-second breathing exercise before starting our practise, we’ll hit fast-forward on our focus and ultimately get more out of the class.
I do as instructed, tapping the screen to start the programme. I observe my current heart rate (62 BPM – I’m going to blame the Hemsworth effect), as my watch lights ups with “Be still and bring your attention to your breath”. I do. Then, an animated kaleidoscope in shades of turquoise starts to expand and retract, in time with a haptic vibration on my wrist. “Now inhale… and exhale.” Again, I do.
Watching the shapes spin I can feel my gaze soften and my breathing slow in time with a one-two-three-four count of in, and out. Before I know it a full minute has passed and I’m feeling calm, focused and ready to start class with an optimism I didn’t have before. My resting heart rate? A much slower 52 BPM.
Tahl takes us through a series of fluid and relaxing poses and stretches – the slow pace of which would have usually frustrated my HIIT-loving brain, but I find extra length in each move and enjoy the process without thinking about what’s coming next.
When we finally make our way to savasana (the lovely bit at the end of class where you lie on the ground and call it exercise) I am a puddle on the wooden floorboards; relaxed but awake, calm and at ease. When I finally stand up I feel rested, like I’ve just awoken from a rejuvenating nap.
If you struggle to tame your ‘monkey mind‘ in yoga, or actually in any situation in life where you need to focus, I’ve learnt there’s a counter-intuitive benefit to looking at your wrist for help.
Writer travelled as a guest of Apple, but all opinions and experiences are their own, and free from commercial interest.