Yoga is my lifeline to presence and balance, it balances me physically, energetically and emotionally and it brings me back to being in the present moment time and time again. Although balance to me means that I’ve reached that sweet spot in life, it also means that I may need to prepare myself to become out of balance, so that I can grow again.
I’m so interested in the transformation of people and how you can cultivate resilience to move between when things are really good and when things are really not that great. It’s the yin and yang, the polarities in life that enable you to transform and to appreciate the present moment exactly as it is, wether it’s good or bad.
In Yin yoga you move into the present moment, you witness and feel the sensations in the body. With every inhale and exhale you can surrender the whole body in every pose. But what are you surrendering to?
You are surrendering to being present, to being in the present moment. Being present maybe easy to write about, but it can be very hard to do. That’s why meditation is something that’s integral to Yin Teacher Sarah Powers’ Insight Yoga, as it aims to bring the mind back into the present moment at the start of the yoga practice, and this helps to connect to the mindfulness in the asana (yoga) practice.
This can be challenging as my first students in Yin taught me. The first tine I taught Yin my students were in the Yin poses on the floor and they looked bored and confused. But I felt nourished and alive, how could I have got this so wrong, how could they not love Yin! But this was my first class that I’d taught, and I’d taken the poses out of the text book, given what I thought was a good introduction to Yin yoga, but I’d been unable to translate the poses into something meaningful to my students. But that was the whole point, it wasn’t about me translating it for them, it was about them learning to translate it themselves, it needed to be their journey.
Yin yoga provides a journey inside the body with The Chinese Meridian Theory being at the heart of the practice. Sarah Powers discusses 14 major meridians that flow through organ pairs and It is believed that Chi (Qi or life force), is carried through open meridians pathways and supplies Chi and blood to connective tissues, cultivating vitality, improved flexibility and overall well being.
Within every Yin pose, you can cultivate a deeper yoga practice with the flow and increase of Chi, physically the connective tissues become more lubricated, making them strong apposed to being tight and inflexible. Also physiologically, the parasympathetic nervous system to be activated, calming the fight or flight response, and promoting a sense of calm. And energetically for the inner chi to become more vibrant promoting greater wellbeing, and emotionally it may start to release any hidden, buried traumas or experiences that are buried deep in body.
It’s this inquiry into the inner body that will start to spark curiosity, potential change and self transformation, and that’s what makes Yin Yoga so exciting. Several quotes have resonated in Sarah Powers book and one is ‘the yin practice in particular allows us the space to fully metabolise emotions we often ingest but cannot completely digest” This is what drew me towards Yin yoga, as I felt that it was a nourishing practice that I needed and this is something that I would like to share with my students too.
Finally, it’s not hard to practice Yin as you can practice without a mat, you can practice if you haven’t got a lot of energy and yet the benefits are yin are so nourishing. It promotes flexibility, promotes calmness and will possibly make you less reactive to any habitual triggers in life, and a summary of what Bernie Clark says in The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga: There are many ways to react when we are faced with great challenges, such as:
.Run away from what’s happening
.Try and change whats happening
.Or giving up and suffer.
None of those strategies seem positive or transformative. But the final one of the 4 strategies is to:
.Accept what is happening
So as in Yin yoga and in life, if we can accept what is happening and be present, then we are truly working towards self transformation and joy.