Yin and Tonic

Today I have a two hour workshop on yin. Yin is long held poses encouraged to open up the connective tissue within our bodies. Any ‘body’ can do yin but not any ‘mind’. The long held poses, the quiet and the discomfort are almost too much to bear for some students. I suggested one of my newer students try it and she laughed ‘ oh no I’m not ready for that!’ Lying still gives opportunity for space. When we have space we can see ourselves a little more clearly and sometimes we don’t like what we see. The antidote for space is keeping busy and most of us now have made that our mantra, keep going, keep doing……..but not keep being.

Here is what yin can teach us;

Discomfort is expected.“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar

Life is pretty messy isn’t it? Buddha states in his first noble truth, ‘life is suffering’. Sometimes a day seems like a series of annoying moments linked together with coffee breaks. Even though I got up before dawn to write this in peace my son got up not long after so during this we are talking about the ‘Friendly giant and superpowers’. It’s not what I ordered but what I got.

Pain is all around us ready to greet us at any moment. Emotionally, mentally and physically.

People can upset us, ignore us or leave us. We can become slightly sick or suffer a major health turning point. We can feel discomfort when we recall memories, and we can even create pain by thinking about things that have not even happened.  During the yin class we experience some physical discomfort as we stay up to 10 minutes in a pose. Yin teaches us this very important life lesson. Stay with the discomfort, don’t run and don’t hide. The discomfort in your life is there for a reason. It is a teacher and it is there to reflect to you something that you need to know. By staying with physical discomfort in yin poses we can train ourselves to be more resilient in our life. We can learn about courage and what it means to stay. We can learn what it is we have to change about ourselves to relieve the discomfort. Maybe it is how we view ourselves or maybe it is just remembering to breath.

yin quoteThe value is in the long held poses.

The first minute is usually OK for most students in the pose and then we watch what happens. The distractions start. Students will start to pick at their toe nails, shift in their seat, drink water, adjust their wardrobe. Anything to distract them from the stillness. Distraction is the first sign of not being present. What you are trying to do is change the situation that you don’t feel comfortable with. We all want to flee discomfort. We all seem to want to be somewhere else except in the moment. Most of us feel like the next moment is going to be better. Staying with what you have, appreciating the gifts of the moment amidst the discomfort is doing yoga. We can do this in our lives when we encounter awkward situations with relationships or work. We can do it when something becomes difficult and we want to give up. We can practice this when we become impatient. Yin teaches us to stay in the moment.

Being with yourself is time well spent.”Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you as what happens outside. If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Each pose is like a mini hibernation. You go into silence and stay there and watch what comes up. Sometimes the combination of long held poses, space, time and permission can bring up some stuff. Some of this stuff can be very emotional. I have been in a pose and cried, it’s not uncommon. What happens when you give yourself time is you start to see things about yourself. Maybe you realise there is something that needs to change in your life. Maybe you take something out of your dump truck of past experience that you never processed. Maybe you realise that time and peace is the tonic that you have denied yourself. It’s a bit like not knowing you were being squashed until the big white elephant gets off your back. When you are liberated like this, when you can look closely at your pain or blockages then you are beginning the process of unveiling or revealing to yourself your true nature.

Practice for today: Try one yin pose and hold it for a long time and see what happens. This is the beginning of self study and learning. If you are unable to do this remember the lessons from yin. Stay with what is uncomfortable, don’t run or hide from what you dislike, take time to be in silence with yourself and have courage to witness whatever comes up for you without judgement on yourself.

55: The Hungry Goat

abundanceThe Tibetan Buddhists say that within each of us is a hungry goat. This goat is insatiable and can never be fed enough. I considered this as I stared into my empty fridge trying to plan dinner. A couple of eggs, some wilted broccoli, peanut butter and some pickle.

When I looked into the fridge I didn’t see what I had so much as what I lacked. I needed more stuff to fill that hungry hole of a goat fridge. And this is how we live our days, constantly seeking more and not seeing what we already have. Some of us look for it in money, some with fame, some with spiritual practice, others knowledge. Personally my goat becomes ravenous with wanting to know more. I never feel that I quite know enough. I over study and over plan my classes. I am presently in a state of having every book I ever owned spread around me desperately trying to piece together another project. Always looking for what I don’t have. Forever deferring to a higher source of knowledge.

The yogis say that this constant source of desire brings us suffering as we can never quite fill that hole of our desire. We feed the goat then it wants more. Their advice is simple. Start with what you have. Use what you have got. Be what you already are. When we connect to what we have we no longer start to see our life as filled with lack but filled with abundance. We can look into the fridge and see a meal with what we have. We can look at our house and car and job and be grateful. We can appreciate that we know enough, have enough and are already enough to do what it is that we need to do today.

Practice for today: Bring awareness to any sense of lack or missing you may have in your life. Do you really need that person, that object, that acknowledgement to fill a hole you think you have? Or is everything you need already there?