I’ve been learning a lot recently about the type of yoga that works for me. The one that feeds me… nourishes me… in the most honest way.
Because, I think, often we can have an idea of the practice we want. My personality is naturally full of fire. Firmly within that element, I find myself constantly trying to achieve the “next big thing”, constantly moving, constantly trying to dive headfirst into new challenges and adventures.
The pause button is never quite within my reach. I can see it (heck, sometimes I can even smell it) and yet somehow my hands can’t seem to feel its comforting surface. One part of my brain will forever be whispering to press down on the brakes whilst the other part, the louder part, gets me to accelerate.
That’s why I’ve always believed that a dynamic practice was the one for me. For 6 months whilst living in Sydney I studied under a Bikram school religiously. 6 days a week I would sweat it out in that studio and push my body from posture to posture, sometimes to the point of feeling physically sick. Even after leaving Bikram I remained in the more “powerful” (I use inverted commas because, really, what is a powerful practice? What defines it?) and faster paced forms of yoga. It suited me, right? Suited my need for speed, my need for the harder, full steam ahead type of living.
The impulsive, never stop type of living that had got me to where I was.
“You need to experience this to really know what Yin Yoga is all about. After you have experienced it, even just once, you will realize that you have been doing only half of the asana practice.” – Bernie Clark, Yinsights: A Journey Into the Philosophy & Practice of Yin Yoga
Of course, there will always be times when more dynamic, stronger yoga is what my mind and body needs. Lethargic days or perhaps post illness (or, more often than not, too many beers). That’s the beauty of yoga. It adapts around you. And you use it, whatever form of it that might be, as your medicine.
But overall? Overall I’ve come to discover throughout the past year the Yin is the yoga that takes me to that higher level.
Balance is a word thrown around often in yoga. For a long time, I only understood the physical sense of the word. The balance in asana, balance of your body. Your external self balancing on the mat.
Recently it hit me that balance is about so much more than that.
Because yoga? It’s there to balance your internal self. Your spiritual sense, your mind. It equals out the spaces that may need filling and takes you to the mindful state of peace and tranquility that the unevenness of emotional weight can tarnish.
And for me… Yin does that. Yin and its slow, meaningful practice. The long holds, sometimes up to 10 minutes, where you simply have to sink into the moment and allow yourself to lift out of your physical self. Drift through the discomfort and stretch in a way that releases you. Grounds you. The fixing to the floor, the connection. The never thinking about “what next”. Learning to check in all areas of your body and let time slip like silk through your fingertips. Like sand floating on the edge of a breeze.
When I’m practicing Yin, I’m not thinking about speeding up. All I can think of is slowing down. My brain no longer crashes. It simply… is. And I simply… am.
Simple. Simple. Simple.
I come away from Yin feeling lighter and, yet, so very accomplished. Because whilst we may call Yin a passive practice, it is by no means any lesser of one. If anything, Yin has taught me the true meaning of yoga.
The meaning that goes beyond the Asana and deeper into the Pranayama. It teaches us to show Bhakti (devotion) and Karuna (compassion) to ourselves, our bodies.
Which, ultimately, allows us to show that same devotion and compassion to others, doesn’t it?
It’s shown me that yoga isn’t about the deepest backbend or achieving full splits… it’s about the journey that gets you there.
It’s about the process.
The moments leading up to it.
Each and every beautiful one.
And to me? That’s what powerful truly means.