7 July 2010

Yin yoga

‘Rest in Peace’ is a simple reminder - firstly that I will finally come to rest when I die, and secondly that I can rest in peace in every moment by accepting what IS, right now, knowing the continual flow of life is changing it all with every passing breath.
I’m no longer frustrated by what yoga poses my body can no longer easily do. My body is continually changing and it will all be different tomorrow, next week, next year…

Passive yoga practices leave me deeply peaceful; they cool the flames of ambition, allow for rest, the letting go of purpose, and they help turn my consciousness inwards.
Compare this to the Ashtanga Vinyasa practice – the high energy raises heat and increases vitality, burns impurities, energises the system, raises and expands consciousness upwards and outwards.

Tonight I needed to Rest in Peace.

The evening’s events had thwarted my original plans.
9pm had arrived and I hadn’t even started my yoga practice.
Instead I’d eaten dinner then spent the next two hours trying various means to get the cover off the hot water system so I could re-ignite the pilot light. Two days without a hot shower and I was beginning to feel feral – no way would I take a cold shower in this freezing weather.
Admitting defeat with the hot water system I drove to my son’s house for a shower.
Arriving home at 9pm I needed some serious soothing; the choice was either snuggling into a warm bed or a passive yoga practice.

As I sat on my mat in front of the heater contemplating what to do, I noticed an old bit of paper poking out between the pages of Light on Yoga. It was a discarded Yin Yoga sequence that I’d printed out from Yoga Journal – discarded because the term Yin Yoga had always bothered me – Yin is a Chinese term, who coined this yoga brand name? It seemed like another yoga fashion trend, a passive yoga practice with a shiny new logo attached to attract yet another new demographic, a slickly boxed product courtesy of the American yoga marketing machine.

Yin Yoga, hatha yoga, easy yoga, restorative yoga, call it what you will, it’s just a sequence of passive yoga poses, nothing new.

I swallowed my initial resistance, ignored the bad taste in my mouth and elected to do the passive ‘yin’ sequence over the other option of climbing into bed for an early night.
It was calming, cooling, soothing and deliciously indulgent.

At the end of the sequence I added two supported back arches – the first one with a block under my thoracic spine and arms extended out like a crucifix (nice press of the block into the inner shoulderblades here), the second one a supported version of Setu Bandha with the block under my sacrum. I discovered that by lifting and holding both legs vertical with the block still under the sacrum, it presses deeply into a cross section of my spine, stimulating release though some acupressure points. It was an unorthodox variation, and it probably looked weird, but it felt wonderfully therapeutic.
After that I stayed with the passive theme and did the evergreen reclining twist with bent knees to finish.
Surprisingly just over a one hour practice.

The Yin ‘Sphinx’ pose (an easy Bhujangasana) brought on an influx of sparkles around my lumbar spine, a sign of energy release, and in the final twists I felt a few energy pops somewhere inside the base of my skull.
I don’t know if these pops are a common occurrence, I’ve never read about them anywhere.
I can be holding a pose, using it to gently and deeply reconfigure the lines of energy flow in my body, subtly adjusting the internal dynamics, when suddenly there will be a little ‘pop’, usually up behind my nasal cavity, as if a blocked nadi has been cleared. It happens often in practice - like when I stretch open a hip joint, or reapply pressure to a heel, or rotate a shoulder bone, or slightly nutate my tailbone - and it fascinates me that not only can these small adjustments effectively release energy blocks (like flushing out sewerage pipes), the little pops can be physically FELT and HEARD.

After waking this morning I felt clear and at peace, both physically and mentally - perhaps a result of the passive stretching, or the conscious release of deep layers of tension; perhaps just a sign of emerging clarity. It’s comforting to know my yoga practice can, on any day, be simply a personal exploration without any goals.


sarah said...

Ahhh, the discovery is endless. Yes, that clearing feeling - I believe it is the same I have felt! And holding allows release and stimulation that movement does not...

Letting go of judgment, of goal-setting, measuring. Just being! Listening, allowing...

This entry makes my heart sing for you. May your water heater also find its way!!

gk said...

Yin Yoga is developed by (but not "branded" by Paul Grilley. You can learn more about Paul's approach and his book at http://www.whitecloudpress.com/paul-grilley-articles/