When I first started practicing Yin yoga, I remember so much of the classes seemed to be about making sure you stay still… at all costs. I felt like I was constantly reminded that I had to stay in discomfort, in the challenge and be still the entire way through it in order to gain any type of benefits from the poses we were in.
Now, this is true to a point and those early yin classes I attended were life-changers. Stillness definitely has its benefits. It calms the mind (even though it might take a while, but hey, we have time in yin!). It calms the nervous system. It lets us go deep into the colder, darker, more yin tissues of our body with relative safety. It helps us to be responsive, rather than reactive.
The stillness of a yin yoga practice can be more confronting than the discomfort we often feel in our physical body. We start having all of these thoughts and emotions that we didn’t realise were there waiting to be seen and heard and felt. We notice the fluctuations of our mind and suddenly our to-do list starts getting a whole lot longer.
Here’s the thing about stillness and yin yoga: If your mind is running away with you, if you’re extremely confronted, if you’re suffering from the effects of trauma, or if you just.want.to.move.dammit, then staying in a pose and forcing yourself to be still is not really going to be doing you much good.
In yin, we spend time in the poses so that we can feel the tension and resistance melting out of our tissues and our breath and our mind, so if we’re forcing the process, or fighting with ourselves then all we’re doing is adding more resistance, which defeats the entire purpose.
So, yes, much of our yin practice asks us to be still. It asks us to sit with the discomfort, challenge, emotion and release. But it doesn’t ask us to be rigid. If you need to move, then MOVE. If you need to adjust, ADJUST. If you need to leave a pose before your teacher asks you to, DO IT. Just do it all slowly.
Find stillness, not rigidity. 🥨