I remember being about 12 yrs old when I found a ‘yoga set’ laying around at home. It was this box filled with two videos, a foam block, yoga mat, and strap. On the box, there was a Hawaiian woman with flowers in her hair and around her neck, holding a pose on a beautiful beach with what seemed to be volcanoes in the background. I decided to pop in the video and check it out. The woman on the video was very briefly explaining and demonstrating all sorts of postures, and I remember thinking how difficult all of it was. After trying to follow the whole video on about three separate occasions I gave up. It would be almost 10 years later before I would cross paths with yoga again.
During the same summer that I discovered climbing, I was also re-introduced to yoga. A friend was doing her teacher training and was giving practice lessons in the park. I loved it and continued to do it regularly, though at that time, from youtube videos at home. I started doing yoga for the way it made me feel physically, strong and balanced. After that, I started practicing and taking classes on and off for about two years, with no real regularity. It started out as ‘an extra’ to compliment my climbing. It provided me with extra strength, balance, and flexibility which I could in turn use on the wall.
It wasn’t until about seven months ago that I started practicing regularly, multiple times a week. My partner was away for about four months and I found myself with extra time on my hands. I was already practicing regularly shortly before that but decided to take it up a notch during the time that he was gone. I found my solace in sweat. I started climbing harder, taking up new things such as spinning classes and thus, also picking up more yoga classes. I was reconnecting with myself through physical activity (as usual). It’s a funny thing relationships, we can become so consumed and addicted to being in love and the beauty of another person that losing yourself within that becomes a very real threat. But, that’s a discussion for another time. As I was taking more classes and experimenting with different styles of yoga, I found Yin yoga, and as with almost everything I do, I fell in love, and was ‘obsessed’.
Discovering ‘Yin yoga’
When I took my first yin yoga class, I was already familiar with the teachings and theories of yin and yang (Daoism, Jung), I had been introduced to it, and intrigued, for some time. So I was very curious as to what exactly a ‘Ýin’ yoga practice would entail, physically. Up until that point, I had only practiced power yoga in the forms of Vinyasa and Ashtanga, so walking into my first Yin class was very exciting. I remember being greeted by the sweetest teacher with such beautiful and radiant energy. During the class I was introduced to a very different style of yoga, I was introduced to postures that were held for three to five minutes. I was in awe. Back bends, hip openers, spinal twists, heart openers, all inviting the body to open up and the energy to flow freely through all connective tissue (joints, tendons, ligaments, bones, fascia, that which connects all parts of the body to each other, basically what our whole bodies consist of). It was finding your edge, becoming still, surrendering, and staying there. It was confronting and incredibly powerful.
It took just one session for me to become absolutely addicted to the ‘afterglow’, that warm sensation rushing all over your body after just having held a posture for five minutes. The rush of energy freely flowing through all connective tissue, between all parts of the body. Some sort of release, after just spending minutes at a time very gently and very consciously stressing and stimulating these parts of the body that ‘bind’ everything together, something I had not experienced before and knew very little about.
“There is an added benefit of practicing movements that stem from the wisdom traditions rather than conventional exercise: the complementary emphasis on training the mind. Working on the level of the body, while simultaneously training the mind deepens our overall sense of well-being in a way that can last beyond the exercise sessions themselves”. – Sarah Powers, Insight yoga
Up until that point, every physical activity that I did was focused on power, strength and muscle tissue. This was the first time I was introduced to this completely different part of my body, which I seemed to be neglecting. I was once again reminded of the importance of balance, in everything we choose to do. A ‘yang’ practice, focused on stimulating muscle tissue is incredibly important for our well-being, but, equally as important is a ‘yin’ practice, stimulating connective tissues and taking care of the body as a whole. I was sold, I fell in love with the practice, and the teachings accompanying it, as well as the beautiful soul teaching the class. I added that practice to my regular schedule and wanted to know more. Just as climbing, yoga had become much more than a physical activity, it became a deeper connection to parts of me that were not yet discovered.
The next step
I’m writing this as I’m now halfway through a 200-hour RYT Yin Yoga Teacher Training and loving every second of it. About two to three months into practicing yoga regularly and finding Yin yoga especially I started playing with the idea of taking on a yoga teacher training. I was finishing up my thesis, about to graduate and trying to figure out what truly ‘lights my fire’. For the past year, I had found a true passion in health and wellbeing and wanted to find a way to combine my bachelor degree in International communication management with my love for sports, wellness, and lifestyle. Though I’m still figuring that out, I’m definitely enjoying the process!
After some months of contemplation, talking to my yoga teachers, consulting with those close to me and searching for the right program, I decided to go for it. I decided to take on the Yin yoga teacher training to learn more about the practice, the philosophy, the why, what and how, and most importantly myself. I say that this training is something that I chose to do for my personal development, and I do truly mean that, however, along the way, as I’m learning more about this practice, and what it truly means, I find myself excited to one day somehow, share that with others!
Have a ‘yoga story’ too? I would love to read about it, just leave a comment!
Love & Light,