Autumn,  yin yoga

“Cultivating Calm: My Reluctant Dance with Stillness in Yin Yoga”

Yoga isn’t what you do. It’s how you do, what you do

Bernie Clark

The first yin yoga class I ever attended – I hated. It was a 90-minute ordeal I just wanted to be over, and I instantly regretted booking into the class.

To set the scene I was running late, to a studio I hadn’t visited before so I didn’t know the parking situation. Oh and I forgot to mention, I hadn’t brought any cash with me! So when I rocked into the studio I had to ask where I could find a bank (not far thankfully) and go get some money.

Returning to the studio that Sunday morning, the teacher was hugging the other 2 people who had came out for the class. They all seemed to know each other, and I was completely the odd one out. No hugs for me today.

I knew what yin yoga was, because I was a couple of months into my initial 200 hours training. At that point I was attending a lot of yoga classes, both as part of the course and to help me deepen my practice. Really I just loved going to a yoga class and switching off for a bit. I didn’t switch off during my initial yin experience, the teacher got us into poses and then read poetry to us. I literally went from one wtf (well that’s fun!) moment to another. I hated it.

But something about that class caught my interest, and a year later I had signed up to do a 50 hour Yin Yoga training in Edinburgh. If you’re not from Scotland you won’t appreciate the travel (about an hour by train) to get from where I live into the centre of the capital. I had also NEVER been to Edinburgh on my own, so cue some big adventures.

I was late for the first day of that training too – got off at wrong stop and had to make a mad dash along Princes Street with the heaviest yoga mat ever created. When I arrived I wasn’t in a very yin mood, but I gave it a go. Luckily my teachers were amazing, and very, very patient with me. The answered my questions and most importantly gave me space to figure out what yin meant to me.

Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.

Bhagavad Gita

I remember vividly the moment I ‘got it,’ and I fell in love with this yin yoga idea. We were working through our practice on day 4 and we went into caterpillar pose, which is a seated forward fold. I’m not sure how long we stayed in the position, but the teacher cued the next pose, prefacing it with an invitation to stay in caterpillar if we wanted. I had never stayed before, I was always heading to the next pose and the next and savasana and the next class. So for some reason my mind and body were in agreement and I stayed in caterpillar.

Caterpillar Pose

Maybe I sighed aloud or perhaps it was more of an inner release, but at that point I realised why I was there – I needed this.

I’m a doer, a go-getter, a chronic over-achiever. I like to do well for the sake of doing well and I have the highest expectations of everything I do. I am a perfectionist and I am constantly on the go. Before this yin course I had been doing a lot of Ashtanga yoga, which is the polar opposite of yin. Ashtanga is very regimented and structured, which I liked and didn’t like in equal measure. Basically my attitude towards life was very yang and I needed some balance – along came the balance in the form of yin yoga.

After my 5-day course I ordered my first bolster and I practiced every day. I loved lying on my mat, staring at the ceiling in my new house just switching off. I could feel the tension releasing from my shoulders and a deep sense of contentment filling me. I enjoyed practicing yin yoga and I relished the time I carved out to dedicate to the art of just being. I kept this practice just for me for a while before I taught my first class. But I knew that I wanted to share yin yoga, because it offers something to the people who spend all their days running around being busy.

I found the balance I needed when I begun my yin yoga journey. What could you discover if you decided to start a yoga journey? Maybe you could also find the stillness and quiet you didn’t know that you needed!

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