Written By Tessa Worgan
• 2018 YUJMU Grad •
I’m late. I’m always late on a Friday evening. My boss seems to think 5:50pm on the last day of the week is the best time to have an in-depth conversation about the new business deal we are trying to strike... so as usual, it’s made me late. I burst into the yoga studio visibly sweating and flustered, my least favorite way to start a practice but I take a deep breath and compose myself, leaving my super charged energy at the door. This is my first Yin Yoga class and even with my limited knowledge of the practice I know it is not ideal to have every cell fizzing with adrenaline before I even begin. Moving into the room I make my way to the last available mat and settle down. Candle light only and lavender oil burning in the corner. As my eyes adjust to the dark I can see other yogis lying in shavasana, bolsters, blankets and blocks supporting every limb, all in a blissful waking sleep...maybe even actual sleep, it’s hard to tell.
The class begins and after some gentle twists we move into a deep hip opener. As I lay there the words of the teacher drift away and my mind clears, without the urgent need to move into the next asana my consciousness can slip deeper into my body. With my mind’s eye I look at the ligaments that are slowly melting around my hip joint. I can feel a sticky bit that the pose is working into slowly as I breathe. The sticky bit gives slightly and I relax deeper. Suddenly a powerful energy rises in my stomach and shoots into my chest. Fear. That was weird. My mind’s eye is suddenly back in the room, instinctively shying away from the sensation. I tune back into the instructor - “...as you are taken to your edge, resolve to remain in stillness.”
I return to my breath, and start to work on the stuck bit again. Then, again shooting through my stomach – fear. Strong and unmistakable. This time I resolve to stay in stillness and breath into it, slowly the fear melts, just as the stuck ligament does, one tied inextricably to the other.
As I lay there the words of the teacher drift away and my mind clears, without the urgent need to move into the next asana my consciousness can slip deeper into my body.
There is no need to be anything or anyone else, there is no ego attached to the practice, you are just simply being, yielding without forcing.
This was my first experience of the power of Yin and it opened me up to some fundamental realizations – we are great collectors of things, as we age our lives get infinitely more complex and cluttered and we lose the simplicity and awareness of childhood. We gather possessions in our homes, people in our phone book, memories both good & bad in our minds, and every feeling & emotion is laid down in our bodies. They reside there deep in our tissue and deep in our subtle mind, causing blockages to the flow of energy through our beings, ultimately making us inflexible. We are hindered in our ability to thrive with this stiffness; time passes much faster as we become stiffer, we are too preoccupied with the blockages that consciously and unconsciously limit us. We struggle to give ourselves fully to the present.
To me Yin is the supreme art of letting go of the blockages. If our mind were a house, a dynamic Yoga practice is the equivalent of tidying and running the hoover across the floors before a friend comes over for dinner. However Yin Yoga is taking the whole weekend to sort out the years of junk that has accumulated in the cupboard under the stairs. The meditative qualities of the practice take you into that blissful space of the subtle mind, away from the chatter of the conscious brain. In this dream-like state you can fully explore your mind-body connection on its most powerful level, discovering what your conscious awareness failed to realize was even there.
This is the place where you can drop all agendas. With your eyes closed, being completely held by the earth there is no need to be anything or anyone else, there is no ego attached to the practice, you are just simply being, yielding without forcing, exploring without seeking. Inner conflict, judgement, attachment needn’t apply here and you can just observe. Observe how the energies move through you, where they magnetize towards, and where they avoid. Your rational mind can be quietened, and you can just listen. Listen to your being, listen to the Earth as it holds you, listen to the energies around you as they brush lightly on your skin.
Before I know it the instructor coaxes us back into the room. Warmth infuses my whole body. I don’t feel renewed, I don’t feel reborn, I feel like I have returned to the true nature of what I always was. Natural, organic, exactly how the universe intended me to be, weightless and unrestricted. As I rise to a seated position and open my eyes, I can tell from the blissful look on the faces of the people around me that they feel the same way.
They are all so utterly beautiful in their serenity.
An uncontrollable smile creeps across my face.
The sticky bit gives slightly and I relax deeper.