Within Yin Yoga it is important to feel and powerful sensations may arise psychologically, emotionally, energetically and/or physically because it is in these deep layers of connective tissue that we store our body memories.
We live in a society that is increasingly high paced and a yang perspective predominates. From a young age emphasis is placed upon doing more, striving to meet expectations, achievement and improved circumstances. In this way the yin side of our nature: the receptive acceptance that patiently allows things to unfold in their own time frame can remain dormant and underdeveloped. If we live in a world of unsatisfied demands underpinned by expectations to always be further on than we are, we can feel very uncomfortable in our own skin. In order to feel true happiness we need to balance both the yin and the
yang forces within ourselves. The yin qualities of deep acceptance grounded in right view instil an awareness of and gratitude for the miracles around and within us. We clearly see how far we have come, of what has brought us here to this present moment. The long postural steadiness can facilitate development of the yin qualities of surrender, receptivity, acceptance, observance, patience, tolerance and love as we deeply nourish our meridians, our minds, our bodies in active rest and recovery. From
this compassionate foundation the yang qualities of determination, courage, positive movement and progress can ensue with much greater force and efficiency. It is akin to enjoying the beautiful view as pause for sustenance on our journey to the summit of a great mountain. Often we are lost in powerless effort, constantly doing, caught in a world of forgetfulness. When we allow ourselves to simply be, in this body, in this shape, in this moment of time, we can more clearly perceive what is happening and the best way to proceed. We re-group. We gather our forces and notice opportunities we may miss if we do not get off our self-perpetuated treadmills. We pause, we breathe, we wait. We become aware of the busyness of our minds, of our attachment to mental formations, of the storylines our minds create. Deeply anchored in the body in a posture we create a distance from our thoughts. We realise we are not our thoughts and are vastly more than them. And in this space we dis-engage. We dis-engage our physical and our mental muscles. We allow the thoughts to come and go without identifying with them, empowering us to take care of ourselves in a different much more loving way. We cultivate the ability to concentrate, to focus our attention: on the breath, on the body, on our mind chatter with discernment and separation. We nourish the silent observer, the unchanging mirror that reflects without judgement or clinging all that arises within and around us.
For those who have never experienced Yin fully it can seem very easy but the practice differs from a restorative practice. Yin Yoga is deceptively challenging especially when holding particular postures for the full duration without unconsciously fidgeting or deliberately adjusting the body. The more we practice the more we become aware of our desire to stay in those postures that elicit pleasure: those we love, those we feel we are good at etc. within which time and space can cease to exist. It is as if we melt into the shape, all divisions of mind-body, self-other evaporate. We become one with mind and body. In stark contrast, in more challenging postures, we become conscious of our aversion as we are suspended in a place where time seems to slowly and excruciatingly draw out into infinity. The remaining two minutes of
these positions can then become beautiful training ground for our minds. We can learn to train the mind to stay where we put it. Within the safe containers of posture and class, we can notice how we relate to ourselves when we are struggling, experiencing conflict and desiring to do anything else but stay with the sensations that are unfolding within us. We can become conscious of what we say to ourselves in these moments and much more importantly the tone with which we do so. We can learn we are capable of remaining still irrespective of what arises in our minds and bodies. In this way we can begin to soften our edges, our muscles, our inner voice and we build up a greater sense of confidence, self-love, self-mastery, as we empower ourselves to develop more inner resources and coping strategies that can be extended into our lives outside of class.