Practicing The Real Yoga, Baby


Photo by my beloved Hansel.

Last night, for my very first time, I went to a Yin Yoga class. Basically this is a yoga practice where you hold certain poses for a much longer time than usual–like four to six minutes.  The intention behind this form of yoga is to slowly work at the connective tissue--not simply just the muscle.  Connective tissue, unlike muscle, is not very elastic–so it requires a much gentler and longer time to stretch.

Like I said, this was my first time attending Yin Yoga.  Mostly, I’ll be honest, it just doesn’t sound so yummy to me.  Intellectually I know that this practice can do major good for my body and help me release toxins and pockets of stress I might not even be aware of…..but somehow I’ve always got the feeling that it just wouldn’t feel delicious–tasty–scrumptious–so I’ve leaned away from going.

So finally, here I am in pigeon pose, one of my absolute favorite postures ever–because it is yummy, delicious, and tasty to me.  But usually when I’m in this pose it’s only for a couple minutes top before moving on to the next posture.  Last night I had a whole new relationship with pigeon pose–with all the poses actually.

At first, pigeon pose felt like it’s usual sweetness and so my body naturally started to drop a little deeper.  But then, it started to become uncomfortable a little bit.  Not painful–just uncomfortable.  Then there was a bit of an achy feeling–all things that the teacher was predicting and telling us to breathe into.

Breathe into?

My mind was like the freaking A-Team…it instantly came running to my rescue to sweep me away.  Immediately Mr. T got out the big guns and screamed this wasn’t safe…to get out of it…come out of the pose Connie.  You’d be a fool not to come out!

But somewhere else inside me I knew.  I knew this was safe.  I knew that what I was feeling was purely discomfort and my mind was throwing a fit because it wasn’t yummy and delicious.  It was hard.

So I did try to breathe into it.  And I notice that the discomfort started to ease up a bit and I dropped a little deeper.

Then, all of a sudden, muscles that you would think have nothing to do with this pose at all started to whack out.  My abdominal muscles started to shake and ripple which started to make my back leg do weird stuff.  And back came the A-Team.  This time they brought bombs with them along with the big guns.

But deep down, I knew.  I knew this was the real yoga.  To find stillness and peace in the midst of things not going my way–in the midst of things not showing up the way I want them to.  I knew that I was at a crossroads–where I could simply come out of the pose and all the discomfort, whacked out shaking, and achy-no-good-feelings would go away.  Or I could stay with it–be curious about it–find ways to not only breathe into it–but send it love.  Give myself love.  To relax, even when things aren’t the way I want them to be.

That’s the real yoga, baby.  The real yoga.

So I stayed with it.  I tried to watch as the shakiness got more intense and I would keep moving my attention back to my breath.  I focused on the feelings in my hamstring and how it felt like a big chunk of yuck.  I tried to imagine what that yuck looked like in the muscle.  And as I brought my attention to the actual sensations in my body–they didn’t quite go away–but the A-Team got up and left instead.  I no longer had these thoughts in my head about how horrible all of this was and that I should hit the road.  I didn’t have Mr. T calling me a fool for staying in the pose.

I just had discomfort, achiness, and whacked out shaking.  But underneath all that was the million bucks–I was stretching–growing–releasing things that no longer serve me.

How many other times in my life have I just had discomfort, achiness, and whacked out crap–and made it worse because I was more interested in listening to the A-Team instead?  How many other times have I forfeited my opportunity to stretch and grow because I was unwilling to stay fully present to what is really happening–instead of being swept away in a black van with Mr. T and the gang?

That’s the real yoga, baby.
The real yoga.

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