You may know that within the various yoga’s practices, some focus on either Yin and Yang poses or so-called asanas, or just on one or the other. Yin being the non-active poses done on the floor, where your joints and ligaments do the work, while your muscles relax. Yang on the other side, is the one known for active standing poses, that ask for balance, coordination, and muscular strength.
Following suggestion of a physiotherapist, who recommended Yin yoga as a must-do, to help me with stress and erratic sleep’s patterns after enduring a two-year’s shoulder injury. He stressed that I should in no way do the Yang yoga.
I had some forces playing against this choice, though.
I had been a basketball player – despite my height – and later adopted windsurfing, hiking, cycling and gym classes as sports. All very active and enduring sports.
I had been a global corporate executive since the beginning of my career, living on adrenalin high active level, as all corporate athletes do.
I had looked for a formula for work-life balance, and a so-called inner peace state; I had followed a Mindfulness Meditation course 3 years before, practiced for a while, and stopped as I couldn’t stop my mind from thinking, when I thought I should be, still.
My conclusion: I was inapt for the meditation and yoga challenge. My brain ruled. One day I would find time to go to India, and spend a whole month in an Ashram to train this stuff and acquire a zen mind! Inner peace in a few lessons.
In short: I went to the yoga class instead of India, but true to the way I used to doing things, i.e, on a mission to learn a new skill, master it, and finally sleep again like a baby.
Easy, right? Nope.
First of all, I had to break my rhythm from 500km per hour to 10km. Doing Yin yoga was not as easy as I thought. My go-getter, high performing, speedy mindset didn’t serve me. The problem was to let go my old and conditioned behavior to either stretch muscles or exert force. No pain no gain, isn’t it?
Lesson 1: Not doing anything with muscles, and bending forward or backwards, requested much more effort. I believed that meditation and yoga required my brain to turn itself off. However, I had to use my brain, as well as breathing skills (it was quite difficult to pay attention to it without getting distracted) to focus on the movement, and let my muscles loosen up.
Secondly, there was no manual for yoga dummies; of course there are instructions for asanas, but NOT the right pose, the right balance, the high performance standard – things I used to pursue, private or professionally, in everything I did.
Lesson 2: Every person’s body has a unique anatomy, and for that, all we need is to find the pose that serves our body the best, with the help of bolsters and cushions. Only then, when we find our way, we can best use our muscles, joints and ligaments to our advantage, and believe me, we relax and move the body forward or backwards, without pain or effort.
Thirdly, I was also conditioned to live in my brain. I seemed to clearly separate my body from it. My body was there to do whatever physical activity, but I hardly paid attention to it. Thinking was not only where I put my attention, but all value.
Lesson 3 and the most important one: To do 1 and 2, I needed to acknowledge body and mind. I needed to connect body and mind. There was no either or. There was no formula to find inner peace and zen. And zen was not something I would find outside, let alone in 3 lessons! Zen is not something one finds at a yoga training nor after a one-month stay in an ashram in India.
I will tell you a story of what I saw yesterday at my yoga school.
After class I was making some photos of my yoga teacher at the reception, just for fun, when a woman arrived and identified herself to the receptionist to get the coin that gives access to the classroom. She was informed that the class was closed as she arrived 5 min before start.
Hell broke loose. She was furious and non-zen when she said: ‘I pay for this. I come here to be zen and not to get this bullshit’. Well, well, well. Both the teacher and I stared at the scene. The woman was kindly informed by a very smiley and zen receptionist about the school’s rules, which she had signed for: fifteen min before class, a student loses the reservation made online, and the place is given to those on the waiting list.
The angry woman went to a next step of non-zen, requesting the cancellation of her subscription to the school.
Now you see what I meant? Zen is a state of balance that, even if we pay, we don’t find outside ourselves. Each one of us will draw our own zen definition.
Are you curious to know mine? To stop searching for it, and live my life with what it brings; the bad, the ugly, the good and the best. Each one happens for a reason. My zen is to accept to live with all of them.
I dedicate this post to Estelea, who asked me to share this story. She is not only my blogger friend but also my yoga buddy.