How Yin Yoga Helps Us to "Love What Is"

Before you read:

This post is a follow-up to the previous post from May 9th. If you have not read it and are unfamiliar with Byron Katie, click the link below to get an introduction to “loving what is.”

Loving What Is: A Remarkable Method for Cultivating a Yogic Mind

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If Byron Katie’s philosophies teach us anything, it is that it does us no good to feel angry or sad about the way things are. Whether we are reacting to an unfortunate circumstance or to how someone is treating us, negative emotions do not change our reality. If anything, all they bring us is stress and pain. Embracing reality rather than resisting it has the potential to bring us much closer to happiness. This is not to say that we should not aim to improve the quality of our lives, but instead that we should begin from a place of acceptance. Things may change in a minute or day or year, but wishing that things were different in the present moment (or even in the past) only causes emotional distress.

One of the essential components of Yin Yoga is the process of surrendering to whatever experience arises over the course of a session. This process is unique in Yin because of the length of time each pose is held; advanced practitioners typically stay in a pose for a minimum of five minutes. Poses that feel easy or comfortable when held for a few seconds can rapidly become challenging and uncomfortable when we linger for several minutes. As this discomfort increases, our natural instinct is to resist. We may come up with reasons why we should shift position or come out of the pose entirely. In a Yin class we have nothing to distract us from the discomfort, so we become restless. The beauty of Yin is that surrendering to this discomfort has tremendous physical and psychological benefits.

It is in this way that Yin becomes a regular practice of acceptance. We can train our minds to stop resisting and allow us to relax into reality, no matter how uncomfortable. Over time the restlessness decreases and the mind’s new instinct is to let go. Breathing through this discomfort also permits the tissues of the body to stretch more fully, cultivating supple joints and ligaments.

Byron Katie’s philosophy of “loving what is” easily fits hand in hand with the philosophies of Yin Yoga. The two practices offer us a space to discover an alternate method of dealing with challenging situations. Both emphasize the value of surrendering to reality, both encourage the practice of acceptance, and both provide us with the tools to let go of negative mental habits.