There’s a reason why yin yoga doesn’t appeal to everyone. There’s a reason why many yogis try it, don’t really like it, and return to the familiarity of their yang movement practices. Part of this reason is due to the fact that everything we try for the first time takes us out of our comfort zone. But I’ve long suspected that it’s mostly down to the fact that yin yoga loves to keep us there.
Out of our comfort zone, at the edge, in the ‘grey area’. This is where yin yoga flourishes, and this is where its practitioners get to explore their capacity to go with it. Because it is only by stepping into the ‘grey ‘area’ that we can truly learn what growth feels like, and arguably it is only through feeling into the physical practice of surrender in the body, that we can hope to practise the art of ‘letting go’ – which will forever be ‘the hardest asana’ – in our lives.
For the yin yoga teacher it’s often new territory. No fanfare. No words often, or certainly far fewer than you are used to. You are stripped down to the bare essentials. Your presence. Your capacity for transmission. It is a wonderful space to hold. It is scary at times, but this is a powerful practice. And if you stick with it – because you have to be willing to ‘stick with it’ a while – you will possibly discover that there is much truth in the claim that our own stillness and silence are the best teachers we will ever have.
In a world where ‘being busy’ has nearly become a sickness. In a society where ‘doing’ seems to trump ‘being’ time and time again. In a culture where our practice can be turned into a product to sell, where privacy and intimacy are all too often disregarded, yin yoga will urge you to come home to yourself. Your whole self. The good, the bad, and the downright ugly. The parts of yourself that you are most proud of, and the aspects of your biography that cause you most shame – the most destructive emotion of all.
We have been getting it wrong for so long now. Changing this, altering that, striving for the next stage, getting caught up in the limiting belief that happiness is always somewhere else. This is oft-times the yang approach; bound to constant improvement, and out-performing yesterday’s You. It is a road that leads nowhere, steeped in craving and wanting. And the truth is that we can do absolutely nothing to heal ourselves until we first accept and honour exactly where we are:
The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change
The yin way offers us the opportunity to connect deeply with wherever we are now, in this moment. It is calling us to commit to outselves, to honour our individual journey, body, skeleton, history, future, and – perhaps most importantly – our present selves.
Let’s come home.