On Saturday we had a Yin yoga and acupuncture workshop. If you’ve never done yin yoga it focuses on the opposite of what most of our busy lives are about.
Yin is the opposite of yang. Slow, still, calm and quiet. It’s about connecting to your breath, yourself and getting grounded to the earth and her feminine qualities of softness and circadian rhythms. The practice is done on the floor getting into certain positions and holding them for 1-5 minutes as you relax and the joints release.
It’s simple, but don’t be fooled. It’s intense. As the joints and muscles relax not only can the body let go, but you can also begin to let go of the stuff in life that you’re holding on to that no longer serves you. That grudge with your mother or the anger about a work situation from three months ago. A yin practice helps release body and mind so we have space for the possibilities of tomorrow.
After the workshop I asked one woman what the yin practice was like for her? “Well, that’s what I do naturally when I practice yoga at home. I did not think it was real yoga.”
So what is real yoga? Sweating? Sun Salutations? Headstands and backbends? Yes, those all are yoga. But so is listening to your body’s wisdom when it wants to be still and just rest in one position for a good long time. If you’ve never hung out in child’s pose for 10 minutes, or a relaxed pigeon pose, try it. I’ve had the most wonderful nights of sleep after yin practices.
So this week, toss out that media definition and images of what real yoga is. You and your body know what’s real. Just listen. You’ll know what to do.
Stay tuned for more about yin yoga in the next few weeks.