“be willing to be uncomfortable. be comfortable being uncomfortable. it may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream” – peter mcwilliams
I must have been seduced by the words “candlelit” and “restorative”.
As I entered the studio the dim lighting, flickering candles, scent of burning sweet grass and gentle sanskrit chanting must have fooled me. I walked in, as if in a trance and lay down surrounded by props beside my equally a-type personality girlfriend, Kelly.
As the teacher explained what a yin class was it suddenly dawned on me. This was not going to be the relaxing hour and a half I had anticipated. Yin yoga embraces holding poses and allowing the connective tissues (fascia, tendons, ligaments etc.) to release. Yin is used to compliment a Yang pratice of vinyasa, power yoga and high energy. I have always sought the Yang and tossed away the Yin. I used to lead a run clinic and I was the one who ran home during the 15 minutes of stretching at the end. Scoffed at the foam rollers. The girl who can’t sit still.
I was trying to concoct an exit plan as she spoke about long, deep holds and releasing tension in your hips and hamstrings. I, of course, had positioned myself directly in front of the teacher and put Kelly’s mat next to mine. I had no exit.
Our first asana was a wide legged childs pose threading our left arm under our right and coming to rest on one ear. I felt as if I was in the birthing position and my groin was going to tear at any moment. When I couldn’t possibly hold it a second longer, the teacher said – only 2 minutes left. I thought I might scream.
I heard her feet fast approaching me and went into panic mode. If she touched me, I honestly thought I would be permanently stuck. Thank god her footsteps passed my mat.
My sweet oasis of peace and tranquility had turned into a torture chamber of pain.
“Distinguish the difference between discomfort and pain” she spoke softly. Pain, this was definitely pain, or maybe it was discomfort? Where am I!?
As we moved into our next posture, I caught Kelly’s eye and she looked at me in distress, this girl is a gym queen and ski instructor – I guessed from the look in her eyes she wasn’t a ‘deep holds’ girl either. As I whispered a serious curse word in her ear, the teacher simultaneously spoke about finding peace and depth in the posture. Oh I had found the depth, the peace wasn’t coming anytime soon.
Kelly and I literally could not look at each other without laughing at the hilarity of us front and centre in class. Surprisingly (not so surprisingly), post savasana I felt incredible. I felt relaxed, open and calm.
This class was a lesson in so much more than ‘stretching’. Why do we run from the things that we are unfamiliar with? Where we are most uncomfortable? We avoid anything that ventures out of our comfort zone, we avoid discomfort.
Sometimes getting out of our comfort zone. Literally getting uncomfortable yeilds amazing results. Not just on your mat, but in your life. I never ride all the way home because I don’t know the way and I’m afraid of getting on a black run that I can’t handle. Today I met up with two girlfriends who showed me the way and I don’t know what took me so long.
The class tonight exercised my willpower and most of all patience. It made me realize there is pleasure in patience. To recognize discomfort and move through it. That my Yang practice isn’t really serving me all that well. I’ve had a lot of insight from my co-workers, family and friends to relax lately. To stop worrying and keeping so busy that I get overwhelmed. To find time to create exactly what I want, to get clear. Tonight I realized a little more Yin, not just on the mat, is exactly what I need.
Thank you Loka for the space, Kelly for the laughs and the candelit, sweet grass, mantra filled Yin class for the reality check.
with love and soon-to-be patience,
Sarah Alicia Harvison