Dear Yin Yoga,
The first time we met I was introduced to you by one of my best friends, who happens to also be an amazing yoga teacher. I think it was around 2012, maybe 2013. I thought surely you would be wonderful since you came so highly recommended and others sang your praises. And so we began, what I thought, would be a promising relationship based on mutual understanding and support for each other.
Within the first three minutes of meeting, however, I realized that not only did I dislike you, I dare to say that I hated you. I thought you would give me a long relaxing stretch. I thought you would help me forget the world, like Vinyasa did. I thought you would help me block out all the noise in my head. I thought you would give me sweet surrender and release.
But you didn’t.
Instead, you took me to my edge and made me stay there. In silence. In sensation. You made me start asking questions instead of avoiding my thoughts like I had done for so long before.
Why am I still in this friggin’ position?
Who would ever suggest this awful torture?
Why have we still not moved yet?
Will my leg ever return to normal?
Why do I feel like my anger is going to come out of my eye balls?
Why am I in a relationship and I still feel lonely?
Why am I not getting ahead at work?
Will I ever feel good enough?
Why am I thinking these “random” thoughts???
The longer you made me stay in stillness, the louder my monkey mind spun out of control, the more my disdain for you grew. I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t settle in, I couldn’t control what was happening.
Hmmmm, control. What a funny concept.
What if I stopped trying to control my mind?
What if I actually acknowledged these questions, feelings, and tears that were coming up?
What if I let go of the idea that I needed to control the outcome of my practice and let it be?
And so we sat there together, in whatever Godforsaken awful shape I was damned to for the next six minutes and I feel like we came to an understanding. You were not going to allow me to zone out and ignore what sensations were surfacing by shifting to movement and in return I would let go and allow. I didn’t necessarily like this agreement, but I could live with it (class was almost over anyway) and then I’d never have to see you again. I’d never have to deal with your smug stillness or your ridiculous idea that by letting go of control, I could gain just that.
And so, at the end of class, I smiled and walked away thinking I was rid of you. I sat down in disbelief (and some, ok, a lot of anger) that I had just experienced such an intense encounter with a practice I had thought would be easy. My heart was heavy, my chest was tight, my eyes were filled with tears.
I sat there and for the next hour I wept. Big tears. Without control. Without trying to understand. And I finally let go.
And then I realized - you had given me not what I wanted, but what I had so desperately needed.
You gave me depth.
You gave me surrender.
You gave me space.
You gave me time.
You gave me permission to be.
And so Yin Yoga, thank you.
Thank you for holding the space I needed to explore what I would have rather ignored and for unlocking a door for me to open up to my own healing.
I have a feeling this is going to be a life-long friendship of mutual understanding, trust, and support.