I was introduced to Yin Yoga on an exhaustingly humid day in Bali and I slowly imagined taking a cat nap during savasanas. I was not ready to embrace some changes that were coming into my life and these made me unhappy.
Whilst being slowly enchanted by the warmth and music in the room, I awkwardly got into one of the poses and drifted into a tranquil space. That space where compassion takes over toughness, sweetness wins over aggressiveness and patience over instant gratification.
In that moment, I couldn’t help but absorb how the 3 principles of Yin Yoga apply so much to embracing changes in our daily life.
1 Coming to Our Appropriate Edge
The first principle of yin yoga is to come to a guided posture where there is sufficient tension in the area of the body in focus. That point is where the mind and body are challenged enough through the tensions in the joints without allowing our body to move in a position of feeling aggreesive pain.
Similarly, we often become aware of a need to make a shift in our life when we are experiencing tensions, when we have come to our appropriate edge. Awareness of that tension before it turns into pain allows us to shift our focus to that particular area that needs our attention and a shift in our thoughts and beliefs. Often, us, creatures of comfort push through the tension aggressively until it gets to a point of pain and before we know it, we discover we have run too deep into our mental chaos.
2 Being Still
Once we have hit that point of tension, and therefore reached our appropriate edge, the aim of the posture is to feel the tension and relax into it. You must be wondering how it could possibly happen given the existing tension: I asked myself the same question. Relaxing in a position of tension sounds like a semi-martyr in itself. The magic happens in the words, “relax and settle” (In life, it would be “Keep smiling” and in Dory’s world “Keep swimming”). But here’s the truth, our body is so fabulously conditioned that it will settle in the pose and respond accordingly. Our muscles soften and we are in a better position of embracing the new challenge.
Such is life too … Once we accept the need to change, our angles soften and that softness take us to a greater level of consciousness.
Like Iain Thomas said, “Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.” Being gentle at accepting our new position allows us to embrace those changes and move forward as greater and better individuals.
3 Holding a posture (position) for a Period of Time
And so … By holding that posture for a period of time, we grow into the new position. Our energy starts moving into our body whilst the teacher talks us through our breathing technique and relaxation methods. Our breath gets deeper to build endurance.
How many times have we all had that moment of enlightenment and decided to make that big shift, only to see ourselves falling back to square one? Holding our position through time ensures that we get the old out so we can build our momentum through life with our new set of beliefs and sustain the changes – what we know as habits.
Yin Yoga was one of those edges for me. It radiated gentleness, forgiveness and sweetness. It blinked balance between the feminine and the masculine sides of life. And whilst often, we think that the way through change is to soldier on with toughness, we often dismiss the compassionate side of ourselves that is there to support us and allow us to gently be in the moment.
I then realised that unhappiness found its place because I was not listening to the balance that my being required during that time of change, it didn’t recognise that edge, that tipping point. Acknowledging this moment suddenly allowed my heart to respond without judgement to this edgy feeling and just like that, stillness slowly permeated through my body. Just like magic dust being sprinkled over me, the need to be tough evaporated in the whisk of a wand…