Yin Yoga Philosophy: The Challenge to Be Still (Includes a challenge I was presented with)

True or false? It’s harder to be still than to move…. It’s harder to “just be” than to do, do. do. Who would have thought that doing nothing could be harder than doing all the things?

The deeper I dive down the Yin Yoga rabbit hole of stillness, reconnecting and knowing thyself, the more I see and experience how necessary and transformational it is to become still and really be with ourselves.

Crazy, fast-paced modern life needs some chill time. The to-do list needs to be balanced out with the not-to-do list.

Recently I was presented with a challenge… After some Yin classes I have been covering, I was given feedback about them not being challenging enough because the students were used to being pushed so much that they were shaking when coming out of the poses. They were also not holding the poses for very long (1 1/2 – 2 minutes) and weren’t keen on being held for as long as I had them there (about 3-5 minutes). The whole time I’ve been teaching Yin I’ve never heard of it being taught this way, and the first thing that came to mind was safety. Because we are targeting the deeper connective tissue/fascia rather than the superficial muscles, our bodies can be quite vulnerable to injury when in these poses, if one is not careful and pushing too far. From my training and understanding, this didn’t sound like Yin.

So here is the interesting thing…. The longer we hold Yin poses, the more challenging it becomes. The students wanted to be challenged and pushed, yet didn’t want to stay in poses for very long. What to do…?

Quite often a challenge can be perceived as physically or emotionally pushing ourselves past an edge, but in this case in Yin, the challenge is not to be pushed too far, bordering on safety issues, the challenge is to be still. When I teach I see how challenging it can be for many people to be still. When I practice at home, I see how challenging it can be for me to be still. When I practice in class, I see how challenging it can be for me to still the mind.

A large part of Yin Yoga is to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, and notice what comes up for us when we are challenged to stay still (our mind “stuff” – fear, doubt, negative self talk, resistance, frustration, boredom, anger, etc). If we are avoiding stillness, is it possible that we are avoiding being with ourselves and feeling/seeing our stuff? Are we avoiding sitting with our shadow and the aspects of ourselves we may not like? Hmmm… Food for thought.

Yin can help us see all this, and then we can work towards shifting these things when we have the awareness of them. And from this place of expanded awareness, we can live more consciously, happily and peacefully, in our relationships, with ourselves and in many aspects of life.

I am really grateful for this experience and the feedback I received. I was able to see the good in it because I learned a lot and it helped expand my awareness. It taught me to stand in my truth and go with my instinct of teaching authentically, not changing to teaching something I wasn’t trained in, don’t practice, teach or believe in. It opened me up and challenged me to take a look at my approach. I realised that a lot of the time when I plan my classes, there are several poses that I avoid and have never taught because I assume that it would be too hard for the students (in some cases it is, but not in all cases). That’s my own “stuff” to look at.

So I took this as an opportunity to add in some more “challenging” poses (the more Yang-like Yin poses such as Cesar pose, saddle, dangling to squat, Anahatasana). I also took it as an opportunity to “stand up” for Yin yoga, plant some seeds and guide students on the intention of Yin, what it isn’t, mindfulness, why it’s so beneficial and what may be happening within us, usually unknowingly, while allowing students to have their own experience.

Do you find it hard to be still? If so, ask yourself, what are you avoiding or distracting yourself from?

You can get my Yin sequence with more yang poses, here.

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You can Yin with me at the following places:

Mondays and Thursdays
The Loft Pilates and Barre @ 7:30pm

Saturdays
Connect the Dots Oatley 9:00am

Sundays
Connect the Dots Oatley 4:00pm

Plus covers at HYA Yoga and HYA Yoga Cronulla

Plus Sunday 30th September, 4:00-6:00pm
Women’s Circle with Yin Yoga at Sutherland Yoga (last of this year)

*Do you want an enhanced Yin Yoga experience? Check out my Reconnected Grounding Experience here.

 

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