Gosh how we yogis love to be in with the know, to keep up with the latest buzz words, new alignment cues, fresh insights, catch all phrases that hit the mark – we literally thirst for knowledge and strive for excellence. It’s a never ending journey. It seems we know this already. So why now Yin ?
We know about fascia, the new buzz tissue that has us all quivering to become anatomists.
We know about chi, the invisible energy force that moves along these mysterious pathways called meridians.
We know that we house emotions in our tissues, some of them buried and repressed and held in our protective armour.
We know that we need time, space and deliberate attention in which we can learn more about ourselves, uncover what’s there and to be able to meet what is ours to meet, whether it’s restoring our energy levels or simply time to pause and reflect and see how busy our minds are and how we are actually feeling. We know we need to learn to relate to ourselves a whole lot better and to learn to bemore at home with ourselves. But maybe what’s not so clear is how we uncover deeply engrained feelings or wounds
that have been held or buried for years and for that we need skilful inquiry, we need borrowed insights and we need to learn this from ‘those who know’ so that we are able to deal with what we might discover.
What we do begin to see after starting an inwardly drawn practice such as Yin is that even our feelings have tones. And if we get attuned to the subtleties of these tonal moods, we can prepare ourselves with the right antidotes. Always in the mix would be compassion, love, kindness, empathy and unconditional friendliness towards ourselves. Learning to forgive ourselves is perhaps one of the ultimate gifts we can give ourselves. Only once we have forgiven ourselves can we then begin to forgive others too. Neuroscientists have shown that the reaction in the brain is the same whether someone else has been kind to us or if we have been kind to ourselves. So we can literally learn to give this gift to ourselves. The brain doesn’t know the difference. So we can learn then to set the tone of our practice and create this field of loving awareness no matter what mood we are in.
For me Yin of course started with the delights of the deep physical releases and the luxury of time that Yin afforded in which investigation could begin. I learnt and read about Mindfulness of the Breath and the Body. I did MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy). And the Body and Breath work was wonderful. Enough. Yes this was Yin, to a degree. But what of the rest of me ? My embattled mind that felt soothed and nourished when I left a class, or even taught a class but then simply came back full circle to wherever it was that I was at, in that particular moment of my life. Always an underpinning of sadness, a feeling of discontent, a threshold that I had not known was perhaps my default position or had just become so after habitual conditioning, so deeplyengrained or more simply put, the way I grew up. I simply wasn’t allowing myself to be happy or feel the joy that I so longed to feel. And why was that ? I mean I had everything or so it seemed. My City career at one point, a spate as a young Eurasian Model, a degree in Business, a marriage, eventually, a beautiful child, money, health, another beautiful child, yoga, classes, more classes, full classes….. and so the list went on. So fast tracking here in my quest for more knowledge, I wanted to get to the bottom
of this and simply stop blaming this feeling of ‘not enough’ on circumstance.
My long time teachers and mentor Sarah and Ty Powers respectively encouraged me to do the Hoffman Process as I was insisting on gaining my full Insight Yoga Institute qualification. (A long challenging course of yet another 500 hours on top of any other Level 2 or 500 hours program.) The Hoffman Process was an entry into learning about the Psychological Enquiry element of the course. Sarah Powers had only endorsed a handful of people in the world. I simply had to be one of them. I’m still not. I looked at the Hoffman criteria and thought ‘No way, none of this applies to me’. I had had a happy childhood after all and I loved my parents. I wrote and told Sarah this immediately and she simply replied ‘I would not delay’……. Hoffman taught me why I operated in the way that I did and I traced every personality trait back to my childhood, I met my parents as children, I attended their funerals and I saw the anger and dissatisfaction that lay buried and met what was mine to meet. I found my voice. This may sound fay as a teacher of some 20 years in various capacities and yet my co Hoffman geese critiqued me ‘Speak up’ ‘Get Sexy’ ‘Lose the Inhibition’. We all critiqued one another. We all found our voices. This wasn’t about trauma therapy. This was about uncovering our essential deepest nature. It’s something the Buddha taught so long ago but what I discovered is that we need both.
We need Yin Yoga to go deep into the crevices of our mind, to see what’s really there, we need to stimulate stagnant chi that’s stuck in the emotional tissues of our organs but we also need the tools with which to do this and for that we need to be able to speak, write, share, visualise and to find out how to do all this we need to first learn how. Hoffman isn’t the only way. But it was the deepest experience I’ve ever had and it has helped reorganised my mind, how I now think, how I can now operate in this world more skilfully and how I can truly help and be of service to others by passing on this knowledge. Knowing that I have felt the pain of disconnect, the pain of unlove, the pain of loneliness and heartache and knowing now that all others have felt this too, I aim to take my students on a deep inward journey, when they’re willing and ready to take a clearer and closer look and to bring the tools of Mindfulness and Psychological Enquiry into my teachings and Teacher Trainings. What’s uncovered on our mats then needs to be lived with off our mats. Day by day. Being OK with this minute by minute. Dealing with the uncertainty and the unknown. Knowing what’s real and what’s a storyline that we’ve succumbed to because of the habits of our mind. Learning how to relax into our lives and into our Yoga by learning how to be less reactive. To breathe. To pause. To soften. To enjoy. It’s not that serious after all and life really is there to be lived and enjoyed. It really is so short. We shouldn’t have to live our lives trapped in our vicious cycles. It’s time to grow up on and off our mats and it’s never too late to begin. Yes life presents challenges and it is difficult at times. Often. A lot of the time. But our reaction to our feelings is everything. How we learn to relate to them, to soften to them and to connect with them without being afraid and without turning away. Not being afraid to go deep into the heart of our feelings, how to counter them and how to manage them. Resilience is built upon practice and with practice our confidence in ourselves grows as we learn to trust ourselves more fully and navigate through the tide of our emotions, knowing that they will pass and that they too are not permanent. We won’t always feel this way.
This is Yin Yoga to me. It’s simple. It’s complicated. It changes. It evolves. Like everything we know.
Life is full of potential, full of possibility, of visions and dreams we once dared to dream. Making this part of our practice too so that it becomes reality. Having gratitude or settling into our lot is simply not enough. We need to bring our hopes and dreams into our practice too. The rest is science. We don’t need to know exactly how this happens but what we do know is that the more we place these visions into our imagination, the more chance they have of manifesting. We need to believe that all things are possible and that there’s still a lot of growing up to do. We don’t have to stay the same way we were as we grew up. Change isn’t bad. Change is inevitable and it is right there on our mats that we can learn to adapt to our ever changing moods, frustrations and issues. Problems aren’t necessarily going to be solved during our practice but in the quiet acknowledgement of seeing what’s present, solutions do often become much clearer. Yin isn’t just about a good old stretch, though this does feel pretty damned good if that is what you’re there for and that is all you know right now. Everything in its own time, that’s what I say.
So go on, go and live your life to your fullest potential, dare to dream again and when you’re on your mat in your deepest safest stretch, give credence to the teachings of those that have walked the path before us and know that because this practice has helped them, maybe it can help us too. It certainly seems to be working for me now. I can’t explain Yin any other way because this is the only way I know how now.
Finally. Love your life. Love Yin Yoga.