In Like Yin

“The cultural obsession with looking for perfection diminishes our ability to see the perfection that is already established in us as live, and abundantly given.” ~ Mark Whitwell


{Read the longer original on elephant}

Yin yoga is the remedy for our yang world.

You know the yin/yang symbol, of course. Yin and yang are two sides of the same coin. Yang is masculine, active, solar, energetic, decisive, and associated with the exhale, while yin is feminine, passive, lunar, cool, flowing and associated with the inhale.

Both are strong, just different types of strength.

Yin yoga involves sitting, bending forward, reclining, twisting ever so gently—just being there. Holding poses for several minutes. Letting go of tension, effort and ambition. Allowing the spine to round. Releasing the jaw, the face, shoulders and neck. Allowing gravity pull us down, down, down toward the core of the Earth.

Staying with a pose for so long, not jumping back and executing vinyasas every two minutes, the mind is free to wander. And wander it will. We may experience itchy impatience (how much longer are we going to hold this god-forsaken pigeon?), fiery judgment (my body is not as flexible as it used to be; I can’t believe how much I suck!) and flat-out boredom.

Like seated meditation, yin yoga gives us the opportunity to bask in nothingness. This is excruciatingly difficult at first. Things come up, rapid fire. Items you absolutely must write on your to do list immediately. The perfect name for your second born child, even if you’re unmarried and happy about it. How badly you need a pedicure. Worries about a troubled friend or aging parent.

Folks often confide to me that they can’t meditate because their minds are too active. That’s like saying you’re not flexible, therefore you can’t do yoga. Or you’re not strong, so you can’t lift weights. Start where you are. The goal of meditation is not a perfectly clear mind. In fact, there’s no such thing.

The mind will try anything and everything to get you off the mat, out of the pose, away from the present moment. That’s its job. And our job is to simply observe all the thoughts, memories, sensations and plans with equanimity and a sense of humor.

Savor the silence.

Published by yogafreedom

Michelle Margaret Fajkus is a yoga teacher and freelance writer, editor and translator, as well as the creator of Yoga Freedom. She is a 30-something gringa Gemini in Guatemala where she lives with her family. Michelle learned yoga from a book at age 12 and found zen in California at 23. A native of Austin, Texas, she enjoys reading, writing, hiking, swimming and lounging in hammocks.

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