How Yin Yoga Helped Me Heal Emotionally, And How It Can Help You Too
I am relatively new to Yin Yoga.
Two weeks into the practice, I am still a beginner.
However, I am feeling more comfortable with being in my Yin Yoga class, staying within the poses and slowing down my speed with the restful transitions.
I find myself looking forward very much to each class and to learning new poses or new ways of doing poses I am already familiar with.
I’ve also been reading about Yin Yoga, and doing my best to learn about the practice and its benefits.
One of the things I have learned from reading about Yin Yoga is that it helps with the releasing of emotions.
Because of this, one might become very emotional during a Yin Yoga class.
The emotions might be positive or negative, and one might feel extreme joy or sorrow in the midst of a class session.
But I wasn’t convinced about this, because I did not see myself needing to laugh or cry in a Yin Yoga class (or any yoga class, for that matter).
I pride myself on being very much in control of my emotions, especially in a public yoga class, where I might be surrounded by people (strangers) and where I might find myself under the watchful gaze of the instructor (also a stranger).
I didn’t see myself expressing any intense emotions around these strangers. No way!
And so I kept attending my Yin Yoga class and felt no fear of experiencing any intense emotions during class.
Then something bizarre happened to me.
I say bizarre, because it felt so unexpected and inexplicably out-of-character…
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No, I did not begin to laugh out loud in Yin Yoga class.
And no, I did not begin to cry in Yin Yoga class. No.
I was at home. Some hours earlier, I had attended my third Yin Yoga class.
In the evening, I sat down in my living room with a plate of food.
I was listening to some soft music and eating my dinner.
Then all of a sudden, a memory washed over me.
A memory of an event in my life that caused me a great deal of sorrow.
Before I knew what was happening to me, I was weeping.
I put my plate down, and I sobbed.
I felt an old and very familiar sorrow drift through my chest.
The emotion surrounded my heart but did not grip or constrict it.
The emotion felt softer, lighter, perhaps less tangible than what it had felt like in the past, but the memory of the pain seemed so sharp.
I sank to the floor, allowing myself to weep freely.
As I wept, I understood that I had been holding on to that emotion for a long time.
I had not truly let go of the pain and sorrow I had once felt.
I understood that I had to revisit the event that had caused me pain; I had to sit with the emotions that I had stored within me from that difficult time.
Within a few minutes, I felt calmer, and I also understood something profound about the old emotions associated with the traumatic event I had experienced–I understood that I had stored those emotions in the area of my heart, an area around which those old emotions had built a wall.
The wall these emotions erected was a wall meant to protect me from experiencing further trauma during the event itself, and the wall was also meant to protect me from experiencing any similar kinds of trauma in the future.
Ultimately, that wall had made me afraid and unable to fully open my heart to certain kinds of new experiences, especially experiences that involved emotional risks like expressing love and receiving it from others.
I now know that this is something I have to work on–the emotional work of opening my heart.
I recall that during the Yin Yoga class that I participated in earlier that day, we did a pose called “melting heart” or “anahatasana,” and though I struggled a little with holding the pose, I felt incredibly soothed after I released it.
As I wept, I noticed that I felt quite soothed; surprisingly so.
I now make “melting heart” a regular part of my yoga practice at home, and I see it as a beautiful way to nourish my heart center and allow new light and energy to move through it.
Yin Yoga as a Guide to Healing
Yin Yoga asks us to stay with the discomfort of certain poses, to resist the urge to run away and to come out of the poses.
Yin Yoga asks us to explore the edges of what feels distressing, knowing that we can back away at any time but that we can also test those edges and explore our ability to break free of what feels comfortable and safe.
Yin Yoga asks us to trust our bodies and our minds and their capacity to heal when we slow down and pay attention and remain present with what is going on within us.
In the same way that we explore our physical edges in Yin Yoga, we can also explore our emotional edges.
Yin Yoga poses work deep within the body, in organs and tissues where we may have stored old emotions.
These emotions might manifest as tension and stiffness- even as injuries.
Yin Yoga poses send energy to those areas, making physical healing possible.
In the same way, if we place our mindful focus on what we feel, we can see the areas in our bodies and lives where we might have numbed ourselves, and we can begin to bring warmth and light to those numbed or blocked areas.
A Wise Healer Lives Within Us
None of this powerfully healing Yin Yoga influence/potential is a substitute for seeing a therapist and getting other forms of assistance with releasing old emotions and traumas.
However, Yin Yoga, as with any yoga practice, is empowering because it brings out our own highly knowledgeable inner healer, and we can begin to identify potential areas of healing work in our lives.
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Healing Means Going Deeper
I now know that I have to go deeper with my healing journey.
A past hurt that I believed I had healed from remains an area I need to do much healing in.
This deep healing is no easy task.
But at least I know what I need to do and where I need to go.
My heart is my destination.
And my work is heart-work.
I now have this valuable information and increased emotional awareness thanks in part to Yin Yoga, and I am so grateful for that.
I feel like an old weight is being lifted from my shoulders by a gentle and loving hand.
My heart feels lighter already.
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