Whilst you might think of yin yoga as something to help you relax or get a good stretch, in the stillness, when we are faced with our bodies’ limitations and the opportunity to work with these limitations, we come to deeper understandings of our personal experiences in other areas of our lives.
If you are on the go all the time and constantly striving for more, that is not sustainable. We will carry a lot more physical tension in our bodies, and many of our organs, including our brains, won’t be working optimally as a result. And whilst we might value the opportunity to relax on holiday or on a retreat, if we happen to be fortunate enough to access such things, that doesn’t necessarily change our day to day behaviours. When we return to the same environment, we often switch back to the same old habits and repeat on a loop.
One of the things I have most valued from integrating meditation and yin yoga in my life (in very variable quantities), is stopping to ask myself if this is the way I really want things to be, given the options I have in front of me. I know that if I place my left leg at a certain angle to match what feels great on the right side, I can feel there is something not quite right. Most likely compression (usually bone hitting bone) and this could lead to injury. I have the choice to do it that way anyway to match what may seem more aesthetically pleasing or I can recognise that doing a different version is just fine. And that might seem like a small thing but it really isn’t for a lot of people who have been conditioned to believe, often by well meaning instructors, that yoga poses should look the same on every body and the same on both sides of the body.
What I take from this to other areas of my life is considering what my choices are. Slowing down has really helped me to see that I have the option to go for jobs at a higher banding or not. To work extra hours or not. To stay at work late and get through some of my to-do list or not. Saying yes to some of those options would have many benefits, financial being the most obvious, but is more always better? If you are trying to make ends meet, that is completely different and of course you will need to do what you can to pay the bills. But what about when you have enough to cover the essentials and a few extras? I’ve really had to question the cost of that extra money. Is it really worth losing the flexible time I currently have to do things like write this blog post or teach yoga when I have people booked in?
The truth is, teaching some yoga one day a week makes no financial sense compared to the options I have had available to me, such as taking on some extra hours in my other job, especially as I would have no promoting etc to do. But the ability to just say no some days to any of it and indulge in nothingness seems to be worth so much more to me than the extra money I could get from giving up that extra time on a regular basis. That won’t be the same for everyone and it has meant that there are plenty of things that I won’t be able to afford as a result of that choice but I do also wonder about the amount of the extra things that we feel we need when we have more. Whilst going on retreat or the occasional massage would be lovely, I no longer feel like I need those things, yet I can definitely remember those luxuries feeling so important when I was working full time with a horrible commute. And the cost to my health of being too tired to eat well or move my body enough on a regular basis was too high. I didn’t have many alternatives back then about my working hours or location but now I do, I am so grateful.
Now that I have been saying no more often and allowing myself to rest more, to even be lazy or wasteful some days, I plan to get more curious about what I want to say yes to. And my yin yoga practice helps to make room to invite in that curiosity.