My first Yin Yoga experience was painful.
I felt intense strain in my hips. I had angry feelings arise in my chest toward my teacher, who kept gabbing as if this interminable pose was the most amazing thing on the face of the earth.
I felt a deep sense of impatience: a desire to just jump out of that pose and run for the hills (or maybe a latte at the cafe at the very edge of town!).
But, I’m glad I didn’t let any of those things keep me from experiencing the uncomfortable realization that the way to inner freedom was through the pain, and not around it.
I studied Yin in 2006. It took me 10 years to really practice and now teach it. Yin’s focus is the feminine principle of stillness: a deep surrender of not only the body, but of the mind and heart. There is an alertness to the practice. The mind is awake, like a hawk, paying attention to the breath, the bodily sensations, the emotions flowing through (sometimes rather torrentially!)—and in that paying attention, there is a sensuality.
The poses work into connective tissue and fascia stored in deep places, like the hips and spine, the hamstrings, the toes. But that release comes at a price: patience. As we hold these poses for two to seven minutes, we are taken to a deep and sometimes not so quiet place that we call “yin stillness.”
In that stillness, we utilize the qualities of the divine feminine: calm, quiet, nurturing, surrender, emotion and sensual presence. The light quality of yin is darkness. It is associated with unconscious mind—that reservoir within us that stores absolutely everything that happened to us in our lives. When we tap into the darkness in this way, we experience the pleasure of release in a new and exotic way.
I have been in yin hip openers and felt my loins ache. I’ve felt the desire to come out, but sensing I was on the edge emotionally rather than physically, I stayed. I stayed until my timer rang and told me it was time to get out of the pose. When I got out, I wept—or maybe I smiled, because the gunk that released from my depths made space for more awesomeness to be felt in the present moment.
I have also been in hip and heart openers that have awoken my sexual/sensual energy. I felt an almost orgasmic, erotic sensation that made me want to stop my practice and pleasure myself. A tantric teacher would high five these moments and say—Go for it!
What awakens on the mat is a sign of what is awakening within. Yoga is a vehicle for personal growth as much as it is for self-expression and understanding of the way the universe works!
Yin is profound in its simplicity. Holding poses becomes a meditative, conscious practice that can act as a vehicle for powerful and therapeutic releases akin to those we’d experience with a seasoned psychotherapist or coach, helping us to remove blocks to our own personal happiness and overall well-being.
The sexiness of yin lies not only in the deep opening and releases it provides, but in the potency of the sensual aspect of the practice. In yin you feel. You feel fully your whole internal experience in every moment. You are in tune with all the thoughts running through your mind, and observe them with grace, as if watching a captivating movie on the big screen. You are in tune with all of your emotions and reign them in with the gentle and commanding presence of a wide open awareness and a focus on the breath. You are captivated by the bodily sensations running through you. In this fixation with sensation, you don’t get swept away. Instead, you are here. Steady and present. Honest and authentic with your you-ness in the here and now.
Yin might take a few classes to understand, but once you get pulled in—like a hot date, you want more. You realize that the benefits outlast the little discomforts or insecurities. Your body, mind and heart start to call out for some depth that allows you to expand into all that you used to run from. And in that expansion you find something rather alluring.
Next time you try yin, get naked—on the inside, I mean (though getting naked on the outside is up to you, especially in your home practice).
Go deep, and go all the way. Get off on breathing, being and experiencing as you honor your own edges.
I admit I’ve stepped into a rather exclusive relationship with the practice—and my whole being feels as if it’s in that post-orgasm state when it finishes (the practice, that is).
Tell me—does your yin get sexy?
Author: Sarah Lamb
Editor: Emily Bartran