Thank you to Lara for our latest guest blog on Yin yoga and inner stillness.
Hello Beautiful Souls,
My name is Lara and first and foremost, I am another soul sharing in this journey we call life. I am also a Yoga teacher and an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach.
I am passionate about all things health and wellness. Having spent many years undertaking highly stressful vocations and careers (one as a Midwife). I had strived so hard, pushing and trying to prove myself as someone worthy, due to having been a very young Mum and having felt forever judged (by society in general – surrounding the negative views of young mothers). In 2012 I had a severe horse riding accident – sustaining several injuries and fracturing my pelvis (somewhere we can hold deep emotions). Eventually and not surprisingly, when I look back, I know exactly how I worked my way to burn out (ME/Chronic Fatigue). I subsequently suffered a stroke (unknown cause) and was then diagnosed three months later with MS. This the beginning of the beginning and my journey with Yoga and transformation.
Little did I know that this was going to be my journey into finding true inner peace and much-needed stillness. Following all the chaos that had been going on both within and outside my body. I immediately fell in love with the holistic nature of Yoga and how fully encompassing it is for mind, body and soul. I am so eternally grateful for having found Yoga and for what it continues to show me, teach me and the journey it set me upon and that I continue to love so passionately, growing, expanding and awakening to every day.
When I found Yoga and from my very initial class, I was inquisitive and started exploring all the different forms, styles and teachers too. I just couldn’t get enough and it was a far cry from my initial understanding which, was one of yoga being for the elderly and a mere gentle form of exercise.
And so it was to be my path… I embarked on my initial yoga training which, was a general 200hr training. This was very much an introduction to the practice of yoga. From here my journey expanded into training with one of my now very dear and valued friends and London based teachers, in Vinyasa flow (300hr) and who has taught and shared so much more wisdom with me, than the practice and knowledge of Yoga alone. As I have continued to grow and become more aware of my bodies fluctuations and needs and requirements for balancing the Yin and the Yang, so has my practice to reflect this and I began experimenting with the more Yin styles of yoga… restorative and yin. My mind, body and soul immediately felt the benefits of this practice thus, creating harmony and balance within.
As I begun to fall in love with this style and form so quickly, I decided to book onto a Yin Yoga Immersion with a Yin Yoga teacher (Norman Blair), whom I had heard referred to as ‘The King of Yin’ and whose book I had read and instantly felt a connection with… Wow… Oh Wow… Oh Wow!!! I am still bathing in Norman’s presence, teachings, and his five-day immersion. also, Norman’s reference to Matthew Remski’s quote ‘Plunging into flesh’ and this, it was indeed.
After the first full day spending several hours exploring the physical shapes that we make in Yin Yoga, I was thoroughly exhausted. Now, one might assume that the practice of Yin is an easier style yoga or more difficult depending on where you are approaching the practice from. Physically, it is not a dynamic form of yoga, it is about creating shapes mainly close to the ground, exploring your edge, the sensations (finding comfort in discomfort), turning inward to tune into the inner landscape and aims to work on the deeper tissues by holding the poses for varying lengths of time, dependent on the pose level of the student’s exploration within the yin practice. It is more yielding and nourishing in nature. From an emotional, psychological standpoint, this may be more challenging and demanding for the student if, there is a lot of mind chatter and this for some, may prove more difficult, than moving through a very demanding, physical yang asana practice.
For me, this is where I have found true inner stillness and peace, moving deeper into stillness than I could have ever imagined. Hence, whilst I possibly felt so exhausted after the initial day as, I believe it allowed my body the much needed time and space, to possibly release some of my long-held emotion and to truly surrender, knowing I was being held, that I was safe and had nothing to fear. Exploring deeper pockets of flesh within my body that I had maybe been holding tension and long-held emotions in (possibly fear from my horse riding accident). We are not always aware that we are or even where we may be holding and gripping so tight and this was a real revelation for me personally over the five days. It has provided the necessary support and opportunity to explore and discover these deeper depths within my own inner landscape. Interestingly the group of amazing souls that I was so privileged to spend these days with also, demonstrated how different our experiences can be and that we are all so bio-individually unique in our own ways. Appreciating that everyone is coming to their practice with their own stories, possible limitations and expectations and how this can have differing effects on each one of us.
As someone who has come from a background of striving and pushing the limits in all aspects of my life, it could have been natural for me to have swayed and stayed toward focusing on a more Yang style of yoga. However, over time and through lots of exploration, I have truly learnt the beauty and intelligence of practising both, how they so beautifully compliment each other and how each has its place and can easily be incorporated, to enable me to really, fully, intuitively tune in to the fluctuations of my mind, body and soul.
Of course, for others, I appreciate that they may hold a preference for more yang styles of yoga and may find their yin in alternative ways and possibly outside of yoga or yin yoga. This is, of course, is unique to every individual, as previously mentioned and as I have also undertaken and continue to practice TM meditation, I understand that it is all Yoga and all assisting us on a path of transformation and that whatever method we choose, it is as unique and individual, as each one of us, who walk this planet.
The absolute beauty for me of yin being a ‘movement meditation’ has provided the opportunity for further growth, exploration, insight and has allowed me to engage with how my mind and body and breath is in a constant state of flux and noticing that sensations come and go, just as our thoughts and breathe do too. No judgement or harshness, no pushing, no striving, just merely observing and then feeling the magical benefits unfold long after the physical practice has ended. The space, the comfort, the ease, the release, the pure bliss of just accepting, just being in the moment, the here and now and feeling the gentle vibrations that permeate my entire being.
Yin is really teaching me how to create a greater internal state of equilibrium, balancing, harmonising and working towards truly uniting my mind, body and spirit. The very nature of the practice is also showing me how important it is that each day we approach our mat we do so with ‘Intention’, being inquisitive to “why am I practising yoga today”? “what is my intention”? “what does my body need in this very moment” “what is my mind saying” “what do I – the all-pervading me need right now, as I approach my mat in this very moment”?.
I am finding it to be such a powerful tool into self-exploration, on many levels and layers of my being and is as a bonus, one that is aiding my patience, helping me understand any resistance and is guiding my persistence to remain and investigate and explore deeper possibilities. In such a short time Yin is truly teaching me the power of stillness, quietening and softening and how this is guiding incremental shifts that benefit me and those around me. It has further taught me how important our use of language is externally whether teaching or in everyday conversation and also and more importantly how our own inner dialogue is so crucial to our own growth and comfort within ourselves.
The path to transformation requires stillness, space, time to pause, reflect and understand, listening to our own inner teacher, who can truly guide us, to feel truly at home in this our amazing body in which our soul dwells.
To my dear Teacher Norman Blair, I am so grateful for your guidance, support, wisdom and knowledge and will be forever grateful to having you assisting me on my continued path of healing and transformation.
Forever a student, forever learning and forever grateful.