What yin yoga has taught me about life

20150125_172325So I have started a very surprising love affair with yin yoga. Throughout my 20s I was definitely a yoga hater. I couldn’t see why I’d waste my time with yoga when “it wasn’t an actual workout” (my words). I still don’t think most kinds of yoga count as a workout, but I didn’t start yin yoga looking for a workout, I was looking for a way to de-stress and realign my body. For that, it was perfect.

For the unaware (which was me a few weeks ago), yin yoga is a restorative yoga that focuses on holding poses for a long period of time (around 3 – 5 mins generally) rather than encouraging you to flow through the movements, like you might do with a salute to the sun sequence. The idea is to ‘go deep’ and really stretch out the muscles.

As the instructor said (I’m not enough of a regular yet to call her a yogi without rolling my eyes and thinking of Yogi Bear, so I’m sticking with instructor!), there’s nowhere to run to when doing yin yoga. With other forms of yoga you can get distracted trying to do the pose, remember the sequence etc. But in yin, once you’re in the pose, it’s just you, your breathing and your thoughts. You can’t ignore what your body and your mind are trying to tell you. I’ve found that I use this time to work through a lot of personal stuff.

After my first class, I felt the level of bliss I usually feel after a massage. It was amazing and I was hooked instantly. After the second class though, I actually came away feeling angry and frustrated. An hour of yin yoga made me realise that I had a lot of frustration that I hadn’t dealt with or even really noticed I was carrying around. Nothing major, just a few minor arguments and setbacks that I thought I’d dealt with. And that’s the beauty of yin yoga. Even though I certainly didn’t enjoy feeling frustrated, the practice connected me with my emotions and bought things to the surface.

The word the instructor kept using to describe the aim of yin yoga was surrender. Surrender to what your body is trying to tell you and commit to staying in the pose for the full time, even when it becomes uncomfortable. Personally I’m not a fan of surrender. I like control too much.

I think a better word to describe what yin yoga taught me is acceptance. It’s taught me to listen to my thoughts without judging. To accept that not all sessions can be good ones. Yoga is about learning to love the process, not reach a goal. That’s about as far removed from The Well-Planned Wife as you can get, but I’m enjoying the process.

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What do you think of yoga? Have you tried yin? Let me know in the comments below!

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6 Comments

  1. I’m a huge yoga fan though I don’t practice it nearly as much as I should. To be honest I’ve never heard of yin yoga but it sounds like something I really need. I’m going to chat to my yoga *instructor* about it. See if she knows of it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Yoga is wonderful. I hadn’t heard of yin yoga either. I am not sure how I would go as I think I am a bit of a cheat sometimes depending on my mood and like you said there doesn’t seem anywhere to hide with yin-hmmm-maybe that is a good thing;)

  3. I’ve never tried yoga, but I’m the last year or two I’ve started doing Pilates. I love it and makes me use my muscles in a way I never have before, they feel well used afterwards.

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