Yin. Yoga. Love.
By Mary Rose Dias
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen
Life is beautiful. And challenging and painful and euphoric and totally crazy. Sometimes agonising. But so, so beautiful.
We all have our broken bits. Our cracks. And these bits are our homework, our personal assignments and our life lessons.
When we commit to our homework and we show up for ourselves, that is when the magic truly happens. That is when we flourish and really learn to love and show compassion for ourselves and others.
I love teaching and practicing yin yoga because I think yin provides us with a perfect opportunity to work on our homework.
I feel that any authentic yoga practice offers an opportunity to love and grow. While yang practices such as hatha and vinyasa are fantastic for creating energy, strength, mind-body connection and flow – yin is our chance to be still, to observe sensations, feelings and thoughts, to make friends with ourselves and to practice mindfulness and unconditional love.
The postures in yin yoga are deeper and often more subtle than those you would find in a yang class. Most postures are on the floor and are held in stillness for 3-5 minutes. The physical focus of yin yoga is to access the deeper connective tissues and fascia within the body. It is common for us to store stress, tension and emotion within our body especially within areas such as the hips and psoas muscle which are triggered during a flight or fight response. During a yin class I guide students to safely release this tension, encouraging non-judgment, compassion and breath awareness.
Flexibility is a wonderful side-effect of practicing yin yoga and can be very beneficial for our bodies. Flexibility contributes to optimal health and well-being and creates balance in our bodies when also practicing yang activities such as sports and exercise. Physically, yin yoga can be challenging as we deeply stress areas of our bodies for a prolonged period of time – this can feel quite foreign and uncomfortable in our bodies if we are not used to using our bodies in this way.
The physical discomfort that we sit with in yin yoga can be a reflection of the emotional discomfort and sensations that may arise for us during practice.
Ahimsa is the first yama in ashtanga, the eight limbs of yoga. Ahimsa refers to harmlessness, compassion and love and is always at the centre of my yoga practice and teaching. I feel that practicing ahimsa is necessary to practicing yoga, and I believe that cultivating love and compassion to ourselves and to others is our purpose as human beings.
Most of my yoga students leave my classes reporting that they feel much lighter, more free, at peace and at ease. However, being with challenging thoughts, feelings and sensations can be very difficult. One way that I practice ahimsa and keep my students safe during class is to invite my students to connect with their inner resource of wellbeing, peace, love and ease. The Inner Resource was coined by Dr Richard Miller and is a tool in his iRest® Yoga Nidra Meditation programme, of which I am a student. According to Dr Miller every person has an inner resource of wellbeing within themselves that they can choose to access at any time. By accessing our inner resource, we are not running away or hiding from other, more challenging sensations. Rather, we are allowing ourselves to experience a full spectrum of sensations. Being with sensations of wellbeing helps us to connect with our true selves and gives us strength to work on our personal life assignments.
My intention as a yoga teacher is to support my students to love and accept themselves, to find comfort in discomfort, to have fun, and to bask in the brilliant light that shines through all of their cracks.
I teach a yin yoga class at Studio iO every Wednesday evening 6:45pm-8pm. I would love to welcome you inside to the cosy and supportive space that I hold. Please feel free to contact me if you would like further information. I would always be happy to hear from you.