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The Yin in Yin Yoga

It does not happen often that I give myself a break, when I switch off (a bit!) from the frenzy world, the busyness, even in this pandemic. I had planned a 5 day course a long time ago; I had to let go of a few things on the way. I had given a commitment, not only to someone else, but also to myself, to learn more about Yin Yoga. I tried Yin Yoga before but it had not been a good experience all the time and the opportunity came up to do training, so I went for it.

What did I learn?

It was an intense course. We practised every day and sometimes twice during the day - the longest practice we did was 3 hours. Can you imagine? 3 hours? I had not done a 3 hour practice since I went to an Indaba workshop, ages ago. And that took a toll on me, that I only realised a few weeks later. It must have been Wednesday evening, when I felt completely shattered, but in a good way.

To me, Yin Yoga is about endurance, building resilience slowly. We had a most informative talk on the pelvis, fascia, connective tissue and muscles. And an equally interesting talk about the Chinese 5 Elements theory and the Meridians. The course was online, so Zoom fatigue – but when I thought about it, I considered that if the course was in person, I would have had to travel, so commuting back and forth may have been conducive to experiencing a sense of fatigue anyhow! Advantage was that people could log in from not just the UK but also from the US – there was a variety of experiences, ages, background.

Some of the postures were held for 10 minutes – I won’t hide; there have been times, when it was too much and I rested. Resting in a yoga practice is an advanced posture not a weakness! A lot of the postures focus on hips, pelvis and knees (oh yes!) – at least the first two are parts of our body associated with emotions – which in relation to the Cakras relate to Manipura, the City of Jewels, the Solar Plexus.

What else did I learn about myself?

Although feeling shattered, my body felt spacious, soft and with each practice able to go deeper, into muscles, tissues and parts of the body that could not be reached before. As I practised at home, there was no competition with the person next to me and I was able to listen more to my body. Although we learnt 35 postures, inevitably there were repetitions; the body responded differently, each time, and at times, the physical limitations of the moment were subtle, but required a sense of humbleness and acceptance – a recognition that the body was not – at that moment – the same as the day before and what could be experienced yesterday was not available today.

There was self-enquiry (svadhyaya – the fourth Niyama of the Eight Limbs of Yoga) instigated by the practices, reflections shared with others and the days felt a little less lonely! As a yoga teacher, days can be lonely when we are not teaching or we are not training. A lot of time is spent planning or reading or studying.

As I slowed down, focused on the Yin yoga practices, there was also an ultimate reflection: although I can never stop learning, life needs harmony and balance and I realise that by throwing myself to do so many courses, to undertake so many commitments, subject myself to exams, tests, be on books, studying for days, etc., I had tilted the scale – with or without the pandemic, I had gone too far. The course brought home that I really need to cultivate a sense of moderation and balance, and slow down!😀

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