Does ego even have anything to do with yin yoga? What’s an ego? Do I have one?
Yes, everyone has an ego. And yes, our ego comes into play a lot in our yin yoga practice.
Yin yoga is a process of becoming connected (or re-connected) to our inner selves.
It’s the process of releasing our muscles and making space in deeper parts of us like in our tendons, ligaments and bones. Plus, it’s helping us to create open and free pathways for our energy and life force to move through our fascia.
If you’ve been listening to my podcast and reading my blog, by now you’ll know that we store a whole bunch of ‘stuff’ in our tissues and that this ‘stuff’ can reveal itself in a big way when we practice yin yoga (or do any type of physical activity, really).
This stuff that we store in our tissues can be unresolved emotion, trauma (big T and little t), fear, pain, worry, and whatever other emotions that we can feel and perceive (all of them). You’ll notice that most of these examples relate to emotions or experiences that we, as humans, perceive to be negative, but it’s entirely possible that we have unresolved joyful, happy and other perceived positive emotions held in our bodies too. Sometimes we can get to a point where we’re used to feeling like shit and so when we feel something ‘good’ it might be that this gets suppressed and locked away deep down into the darkest places so that we don’t unravel from our status quo, because that can be really uncomfortable. When we have continued thoughts and experiences, we are wearing in neurological pathways that become our norm, so anything outside of that can feel foreign. Anything outside of our norm can be perceived as dangerous, a threat, something to be side-stepped. Anyway, that’s just to say that the ‘stuff’ we hold in our bodies isn’t necessarily always the ‘bad’ stuff, sometimes it’s the ‘good’ stuff that we’re just not used to and so didn’t let ourselves feel.
Alright, what’s our ego?
Our ego is our conscious mind, it’s the ‘I’, it’s the thinking self that is the conscious decision-maker. The one you refer to as you.
Our ego likes to keep us disconnected from ourselves and from others. Our ego can be a liar and one of its many joys is to create separation. Our ego loves drama. It loves to be sure of itself and it likes to be right (and stay right, even when all evidence shows that it is, in fact, wrong).
Ok, so you’re still not telling me what this has to do with yin yoga…
In my yin classes, something I often invite my students to do is to start getting intimate with how they are listening to their bodies. This can take practice. If we’ve been disconnected for a long time, coming back into a space of connection and intimacy can be hard AF, because we just don’t speak the language anymore. I often invite my students to pay attention to the most subtle sensations and to move (or not move) in a way that is honestly serving them.
This word: honestly, really matters here. Remember what we said about the ego. It loves drama. It can be a liar. It can hold onto ideas of what our mind thinks is best (usually based on some past experience) and it can push you to do things (or not do things) that could end up being detrimental to you.
Yin yoga helps to create awareness, space between the thoughts, the sensations and the noise. And it’s within this awareness that we can learn to become responsive to what we really need (based on what our body is telling us), rather than what our mind (or EGO) thinks we need.
Our body is smarter than our mind.
Our mind is full of filters that we are constantly using to see the world through and this means that we make up stories in our heads about what’s coming in based on how we see ourselves and what experiences we’ve had in the past. I probably don’t need to tell you that the stories we weave are usually more fiction than fact. Like I said, our ego loves drama, it loves to live in a fantasy world, regardless of whether that fantasy world is full of unicorns and rainbows or mean fire-breathing dragons.
Now, our body holds onto a lot of stuff that we could call filters too and we have incredible response mechanisms that cause us to behave in certain ways based on past experience on a physical level as well. But when we bring awareness into it and we start to spend more time in the space in between each thought, notice the subtle sensations in our tissues, follow our energetic requests and allow our mind to be quiet in a yin class, this is training us to do the same in our everyday lives.
Those epiphanies you have on your mat in a yoga class? They’re not just for that moment. They are becoming memories, filters and they are teaching you to see past the ego, the drama, the stories, the self. These moments in-between, they are showing you when you’ve been letting yourself be reactive instead of responsive. They are rewiring some of your filters. They are giving you a deeper connection to the wisdom of your body and letting you live from that space instead of always just going with what your mind thinks is right. This is allowing you to be more gracious, to see many facets of an argument or disagreement or general wondering. Noticing our ego and stepping into awareness within our yin practice is training for life, for a connected, grounded spacious life.
So, what does ego have to do with yin yoga? You tell me. Do you relate to any of this? Can you see how all of these practices and ideas weave together to create a depth of experience that enriches our everyday lives, rather than just those moments on the mat?