My thoughts, struggles, and a love/hate relationship with a Yin Yoga style of practice began about a year or two ago. It’s an interesting path for those who aren’t aware, and you hold the poses for 3 minutes. The poses you know from a yang style of yoga like a hatha or vinyasa practice, are the same asanas [poses] but are called a different name. Example what I traditionally know as Pigeon Pose [Eka Pada Rajakapotasana] is now called Swan Pose in Yin Yoga.
At the time I dove in feet first and took a class and just didn’t really care for it. It challenged me in a way that felt uncomfortable. Now don’t get me wrong, challenge can be good for us so let me explain. Holding poses for 3 minutes was physically not comfortable. My muscles started screaming at me “is it over yet”? They longed for that singing bowl/gong sound to signify the end of holding the asana.
Fast forward a few months [during which I passed the time with yang yoga, tea, and reading of yoga articles], I discovered that you should incorporate a yin style with the yang to balance your life. Who doesn’t need balance! So one evening I was feeling particularly moody and crampy. I didn’t have the energy to do a fast past class. I was in pain [due to menstrual cramps], and desperately required some relief. I needed something gentle yet effective. I rolled out my lovely ombre yoga mat and threw on a yin class.
Yin yoga definitely tests my focus and concentration because I am turned in ward for so long. My challenge is that dreaded monkey mind many of us are so familiar with. When the mind becomes consumed with all those manic thoughts cropping up from out of no where, I have to use a trick to place the thoughts somewhere to clear my mind and make space for healing.
I’ll share a trick with you. In order to stay focused and tuned-in while turned-in, I unwind the knots of thoughts. I do this by continually pushing any thoughts out of my mind. My trick is to imagine a set of 3 baskets. One for the past, one for the present, and one for the future. All those manic thoughts that keep popping into my mind go into those baskets. If it’s a thought from the past then it goes into the past basket, and so on and so forth.
Circling back to the yin, I stuck with the class and after 60 minutes felt like I cultivated space for healing and really accomplished something which had been challenging me for a while. When you’re in pain it really feels like that much more of an accomplishment.
Today I can say I finally embrace the yin with the yang on a regular basis. Enough so that I even decided to invest in a few helpful props i.e. a bolster and zafu cushion. Yin helps keep me balance in the evening before bed time or when I need something more low-key or therapeutic due to back pain or menstrual cramps. I’m glad that yin yoga exists as an option. I try not to go a day with out some sort of yoga, otherwise my mind starts spinning in that downward cycle of depression, not to mention physical pains from life such as long commutes to work or sitting at a desk for hours. It’s a test of your concentration but so worth it. Perhaps this personal essay / post will give you that inspiration to give it a go like I did and not give up.