It’s confession time, again. You know how I love teaching, practicing and chatting about yin yoga? Well, I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, my first ever yin yoga class was horrible.
I was running late, had no idea where I was going, no money to pay for the class and no idea where to park. When I eventually made it into the studio I felt like the odd one out. There were 2 other students there to practice and they seemed to know each other, and the teacher knew them too. Cue a whole pile of hugging before class started as I sat on my mat feeling like a right eejit.
Then came the poetry. I have nothing against a nice poem, sonnet or written verse, but OMG I was not prepared for this depth of words. I hated the class and did not feel welcomed at all. Somehow, I wasn’t put off though.
About a year later I found myself making the voyage into Edinburgh to begin a 5-day Yin Yoga Teacher training. I’d never been into Edinburgh on my own before, I was late (again!) and I was feeling pretty run down and miserable. Having ran from one end of Princes Street to the other, to show up late for practice I was worried that I would again feel left out.
I was there to learn and I wanted to soak it all in, but I was right in the middle of my serious Ashtanga phase which is the opposite of yin in so many ways. Clare and Heini, my lovely teachers, were so patient with me – answering my questions but mostly allowing me to just be me. I was a diligent student, taking it all in, memorising and making connections but something was missing for most of the week.
It’s still so clear in my memory the moment when I ‘got it.’ We were being guided through a practice by Clare and she invited us to remain in caterpillar pose rather than moving onto whatever was coming next. At that very moment I felt happy, safe and still in my caterpillar pose and I decided not to move. This was the first time in my life I had did what felt right for me and not what I thought someone else would approve of. With one caterpillar pose I learned so much about myself and about my yin journey and it was down to a skilled teacher who allowed me to get there on my own.
Finishing the training I felt different, I practiced yin a lot and read even more about it. It felt right to just take my time to let things soak in before I shared my first yin yoga workshop which is now my Calm before Christmas event.
Now I’ve been sharing yin yoga for over 6 years and have completed further studies with Clare. But the real learning is each time I get on my mat I find something new. I realise that this is the one thing I can do for myself each day, I can decide what feels best for me and go with that – no judgements and no need to get it right for other people.
When I teach yin I share this philosophy with my students – I offer them the space to explore the practice as they are at that very moment. They have the wisdom of knowing their own bodies and what will be right for them. I don’t know them as well as they know themselves, so I try to empower them to move in a way that is right for them. I want them to feel safe, happy and still the same way I did that day in October 2016 when I was in my caterpillar pose.
So today I invite you to take a journey yinside with me, to try this practice where you are and to make any changes to it which suit your body, mind and energy levels at this moment. Today I invite you to get on your mat and to do something that feels right for you, not something to please or appease other people. With this in mind, here’s a 30-minute yin yoga practice for Bliss. And to be clear, Bliss can mean whatever you need it to be at this moment – happiness, clarity, stillness, peace, anything that means something to you.
If you happen to be in Edinburgh and are looking for some yin yoga, please check out my lovely teacher and friend Clare. And if you are looking for a new YouTube yogi to practice with, Heini has a channel filled with wonderful classes.