Yoga, as many practitioners can attest, is so much more than a physical practice. Yin Yoga is a series of restorative and energizing postures that are held for a longer time, healing and opening the soul just as profoundly as the body. We recently spoke with Nora Benian, RYT-500, Yoga Therapist & Instructor, and upcoming retreat host about the transformational power of the practice.
Making Space for the New
We struggle with repeating thought patterns about ourselves and our lives, and the idea of letting that way of being go can be scary. Our thought patterns are what we’ve built our lives around, and they give us security, identity, and power – or so we think. We fear letting go, because we fear what we might be when we are stripped down.
But what are we really afraid of? What story about ourselves are we clinging to? The truth is, we must clear out the old to make space for the new. That which no longer serves us has no room anymore, because we need to make room for that which will serve us from here onward. Having a practice of surrender in your life will make space for your growth and personal realizations of who you really are.
The Art of Letting Go
Yin Yoga is all about surrendering and practicing the art of letting go. Yin is to accept a shape that is authentic, without forcing your body to change. It is to help one relax into the bones, to be still and give up holding on. The resistance one encounters can be layered, like peeling back the layers of an onion, and we must continually remind ourselves to let go. Just when we think we are in the pose fully, we come across another layer of resistance.
But if we keep breathing deeply, eventually a release happens. We then go through the steps of fostering acceptance again with this new, recently uncovered layer of resistance, and find the courage to go through yet another layer with deeper breaths, deeper trust. We must trust that going through these layers of resistance is better than fighting against them. That is when we surrender. That is when give the life force a wider channel to flow through, bringing more life into the body and calming the mind.
Heal the Body, Heal the Soul
A regular practice of Yin Yoga also releases muscular pain. Yin Yoga works on the connective tissues, joints, and tendons attached to the bones. It accesses the deep fascial networks that run through every element of our body. This is a continuous connective tissue that exists from head to toe, so that a restriction in one part will affect every other part.
Fascia stores all pain from the landscape of our lives – our biography is our biology. Fascia is where our trauma is stored. Physical tension is the manifestation of emotional trauma. Just as a broken bone creates scar tissue, emotional trauma is also ingrained int he history of our body. This is why emotions like anxiety, anger, or grief are all felt at specific locations. Even after the emotion has passed, our bodies hold onto these memories until we let them go.
Yin yoga helps to create a space to surrender inhibiting mind patterns. As the fascia is released, so are the psychological traumas it contains. This is why certain poses can bring a surge of emotion as stored energies are unblocked at let go. Without those thought patterns, we can discover the core of who we are. Not who we were, not who we will be, but the ever-changing kaleidoscope of our present and beautiful selves. At this point, we will no longer need to cling to possessions, people, or ways of thinking that do not serve us, because right there, on that mat, in the stillness and peace, we remember that we are enough. We will always be enough.
Trust yourself – you are more complete than you know. Within you is a power beyond your wildest dreams, and your true nature is unconditional happiness and peace.
Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.