Sunday, August 29, 2010

Yin times

I am one of those people that will tend to plan her day so much that I've forgotten to schedule in lunch. I do this all the time, actually, taking on as many projects as I can in between work, play, friends, and family. Boredom is the thing I fear absolutely the most. When I was a kid, I remember, I was so afraid of being bored that I made a list that I kept in my room of things I could do if i got bored. "Play with Barbies. Call a friend. Easy-Bake something. Smash head against wall." These were quite literally lifelines so that I never had to be still. When I was about 14, I had a summer off, and I was bored, so I made a play. I chose it ["The Ugly Duckling" by A.A. Milne], bought the rights to use it, cast it, directed it, rented a stage and rehearsal space, put it on, and made something like 24 bucks in profit.

It's pretty cool that I made a play when I was 14, but when I think about it, it's such a perfect example of how ridculously type A I am [you wouldn't have wanted to know me before yoga] but also, I think, this is indicative of the kind of world we live in all the time: a very Yang world, very active, fiery, and full of stress. Great fun indeed, but I often come home at the end of the day feeling like the end of a hungry, frayed rope.

Over the past week, I have been participating in a Yin Yoga Teacher Training with Bernie Clark at Semperviva on Granville Island. We wake up at the crack of 5:30 for a 2 hour Yin practice and then long lectures on anatomy, the energy body, meditation, the history of yoga and the religions that shaped it (Hinduism, Tantra, Buddhism, Zen etc). It's been delicious, and feeling absolutely indulgent. I have loved the meditative, passive practice of Yin since I discovered it a couple of years ago, but I have never had the chance to do it every single day for a week.

And man, my hips feel WEIRD. But also, I think, this training has been teaching me a lot about being still and resting. We need stress to live, says Bernie. The problem in the west is not that we have too much stress, but that we never rest.

I've taken the week off from Vinyasa yoga (excpet for teaching) so that I can experience softness and stillness for awhile in my own body. And if you read my last post, you may have noticed that I've been getting particularly frustrated with my practice recently and feeling like my chaturanga doesn't look right, my arms are not strong enough, and getting angry that I can't do certain poses. The whole point of Yin is to go where your body will go naturally, accept that place, and just be with it. We spent many hours talking about the innumerable variations within the human skeleton, and the major thing we learned is that you cannot know what someone is feeling by looking at them. And yoga is not about what you look like, it's what you feel like. Yin is empowering me in my practice again with these principles of stillness and acceptance, so I've been spending time walking more slowly, talking more slowly, eating thick, luxurious 10% yogurt and adding more butter to everything, sitting in meditation, watching Planet Earth with my man. Next week will be the real challenge: can I integrate more stillness and less compulsive filling of time into my daily life when 2 hours of Yin is not planned in?

Anyway I think this post is long enough for now--more later, but until then, I will leave you with this Yin/Yang Prayer:

“Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change,
he courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.” -- St. Francis

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