The yin to my usual yang

This afternoon I took my first Yin Yoga class in a long while. It was at a Paddington yoga studio called Barefoot Yoga. Barefoot is Sydney’s first donation based studio, similar to Yoga To The People in New York where I first started practicing yoga.

My yoga is usually fast moving, flowing and physically challenging and stimulating. My yoga quiets my mind and until now, I had thought it was introspective. Today’s class with Crawf showed me otherwise. Yin is the opposite of what I gravitate towards and what I usually practice, it’s slow, the poses are held for 5 minutes at a time, it’s quiet and it gets inside your head.

The first 20 minutes of class were an exercise and a test of my mind/body control and mastery. I thought I’d gotten to a level of practice where I could breathe through nearly anything. Not this. 3 minutes into holding pigeon I forgot how much I hated opening my hip, how much I hated the lack of control over when I could come out of the pose, how much I simply hated the teacher, myself, the class, the girl in front of me who seemed so content, I hated everything and just wanted to flip back into an opened hip down dog. I literally felt my entire body getting hot, red, steaming with the pitta fire and irritation. After I thought it couldn't get worse, we held a few more hip opener poses on the same side. I could feel my hamstrings and glutes constricting with every passing second (which were ticking by slower than I’d ever experienced). 5 minutes became an eternity.

Then as we came into pigeon pose on the other side, I laid me ear down on the mat, looked up and saw a massive gold painted OM symbol on the wall and something changed. I started to let go. Little by little. My hip relaxed, my shoulders and chest melted into the floor and I could feel my breath sink into my belly.

As we moved onto gomukasana (cow face) Crawf suggested we try a mantra with the breath and it all came together. Inhale, “I”, exhale,”am”. “I am”. That’s it, that is everything. I am. I am here, in this body, in this room, in this city, half way across the globe from everything I know. I am Kelsey, I am doing yoga, I am present and I am here right now and that is all that matters. I am peace and I am stillness. The rest of class flowed by, not quickly but it didn’t drag on either, it just moved as it should. I am just where I should be and so is everyone else, just where they should be.

We closed class with one more posture and finished out with the usual savasana and I knew I had found home. No matter what happens in the world, in your life, you are just as you should be. You are and I am and that is all that matters, the rest is superfluous and potentially just a distraction from what really is. Talk about introspection.

Namaste and Shanti.