Before I found Yin Yoga, my knees ached, my shoulders were tight and my lower back was painful. I actually found that I had more aches and pains AFTER taking up Yoga... maybe you also experienced this? But I knew it was part of the journey in opening up my body to a greater range of motion so I listened to my body as my teacher advised and modified my practice sensibly... and carried on... amidst the aches.
Although I had been practicing Vinyasa Yoga for a few years and I had to modify many positions due to my aches and pains, my flexibility still held me back in the positions I wanted to get into in Vinyasa and Ashtanga and I even started to feel tighter after practicing Vinyasa class instead of more open and flexible.
This frustrated me because I knew that Yoga was magic and that I should be committing to it daily but my body was saying no.
After practising an active Yoga class, my range of motion decreased the next day and my body felt tighter and tighter. I was sad that I seemed to not be able to keep up with the Yoga practice I wanted to commit to.
Then one day that all changed when I started practising Yin Yoga.
At first, holding positions was a challenge, I was used to flowing and it was uncomfortable to hold for ages. In some poses I was in my head about all of the sensations but the more I practiced that soon shifted and I was able to surrender into the positions and the process of Yin became one that I loved more and more each time.
I realised that the more I relaxed into the intensity of the stretch, the easier it became. It was a journey of melting inner resistance. Both physically and mentally.
And as my body began to give to gravity, the habitual way that it had become set and locked began to soften. It was only through holding for a long period of time in each pose that this could happen.
My range of motion increased but the experience inside my body and mind changed too for the better. I felt free and present and connected at the end of Yin class. When I left class, I felt more in touch with the heart of Yoga - the Peace and Stillness. I was very surprised when my back pain disappeared for good and my knees stopped aching. I then went back to Vinyasa Yoga and I could do all the poses that I had wanted to do before, without me even practising them.
Yin is a great teacher, it taught me that by allowing gravity to have all of me, by surrendering and softening to the process, I could arrive at the place I wanted to be all along - peaceful, open and pain-free. Giving up the FIGHT and softening can allow you to go further physically and mentally; and experience an inner space that is so so beautiful.
Every Yin practice always asks me: how willing are you to LET GO today?