Friday, October 16, 2009

yin and the mosquitoes

In Dubai, one of the last things I would do voluntarily would be Yin Yoga. I accidentally tried it once and got so bored that I wanted to run away and never get into a studio ever again. (A little explanation for those who are not familiar with it; Yin yoga is about opening and stretching the connective tissues. In order to reach and to stimulate the connective tissues, very deep stretching poses are held for 3-5 minutes. During this time, one is expected to be completely relaxed, as engaging the muscles would prevent the pose to reach down to the tissues. Vinyasa or astanga can be considered as more “yang” forms of yoga as they focus more on strengthening the body. )

I guess Dubai has a very yang/male energy, and going with the flow there is a preference towards more dynamic forms of yoga like astanga. It was the same for me and it felt better to sweat a bucket and sense that your muscles have been stretched to the extreme after a 90-minute session in the studio. As much as it was exhausting, it was also strangely energizing.

In a yin yoga class, you barely sweat. Once you get in the asana, all you have to do I completely relax and breathe. Yet it is one of the most difficult things to do, physically and mentally. All of us have stiff areas like hamstrings, shoulders, hips etc and opening them can require quite a perseverance. However each millimeter of opening becomes so rewarding (again physically and mentally) it is definitely worth the effort.

With these thoughts in mind I arrived to my third yin class in Bali. I was really determined not to fidget, lose myself in the pose or mediate on the thought “this is so painful I can't stand it anymore”. Instead, I was going to be totally aware of what I am feeling and not engage in escapist thoughts. With this confidence I sat for the opening pranas and already started feeling good.

As I have described earlier, the Yoga barn overlooks rice paddies. And the yin class is around sunset time. This combination meant one thing and it wasn't good; the mosquitoes! There are repellents by the door however I should have thought about rubbing some on before the class and getting up to grab the bottle now was out of the question. There I was, in the middle of some ankle opening position and the mosquitoes were enjoying every bit of me. My mind was anyway ready to jump at any opportunity to drift away, and having mosquito bites on my arms were excuses good enough to shift my attention from the pain to the itch... I started with tiny moves to shoo off the mosquitoes, and then openly started scratching my arms... My determination to take the pain and stay focused did not even last through the first asana.

What does that say about me? I am not yet quite sure. Maybe I am not yet ready for certain openings. Maybe the fact that I tried to commit myself to “staying put” had just the reverse effect and actually blocked me mentally. Maybe this is a great example how I deal with everyday problems, or not deal with them... I really don't know yet, but hope to get a glimpse into it soon.

Seriously how do you stay focused to your pain when you have the option to get out of the pose and put an end to it?

My yoga learning for the day: It is easy to wake up and say “oh I wish I was ...(fill in the blanks with whatever) However unless you sit down first and accept yourself for who you really are, the change is unlikely to come.

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