Finding Yin in a Yang World (Lessons from Yoga)

One of the best things that’s ever happened to me started in late January this year. I found a yoga class, specifically yin yoga, that changed the way I think about my life. In a world where things never stop moving, I finally learned what it takes to be still, even if just for a moment.

I’ve always known that it’s important to reflect and ponder on my life instead of letting it rush by, but I never really felt that I could do so effectively. By definition, yin means passive, sustaining, or cold. It also has to do with feminism and the earth. Though it doesn’t move much, it’s strong and steady. Many of those qualities match my personality. I love routine and steadiness. Change and spontaneity always challenge me because they don’t come naturally.

Lessons Learned

My yoga class has helped me so much in accepting myself. These valuable lessons have come to me piece by piece this year, and now that it’s ending, it seems like a great time to reflect and share what I’ve learned.

  1. I don’t have to be like everyone else, and I wouldn’t want to be because that’d be boring. In my class, we talk at the beginning and end, but we don’t interact during the class. It’s personal, and it helps that we have our eyes closed for most of the time.
  2. No one’s looking over my shoulder to critique me. I make progress on my own terms because I’m only competing against myself. If I stop and compare to others’ progress, I feel upset that I haven’t done more. When I just look at my own, I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished. It’s not about being “the” best, it’s about being my best.
  3. The best way for me to relax is to retreat in some way from my life. I joke with my husband that I have to force myself to relax, and it’s true! It’s because I live in my work environment. Yin helps me wring out my stress and get some time away from the chaos.
  4. I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Though some yin poses are easy to me, others are not! Being uncomfortable is what helps me stretch, both literally and figuratively. I am a more flexible person than I was a year ago.
  5. I appreciate my body for what it can do and worry less about what it can’t. The list of “can’ts” is probably really long, but I’m not going to stop and write it all down.
  6. Peace ultimately comes when I let things go that I can’t control. I will never be “perfect” at anything, but I can feel satisfaction at having done enough.

Every yin class I attend, I am reminded of these lessons as they sink deeper into my mind. I’m still a work in progress, so I’m glad I have this class!

yin
This is what we call happy baby pose!

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