One of my favorite themes for my yoga classes is that of the heart of a seed. It was inspired by a poem I used to teach in my preschool teaching days that goes a little something like this:
In the heart of a seed buried deep so deep,
A dear little plant lay fast asleep,
Wake said the sunshine and creep to the light,
Wake said the voice of the raindrops bright.
The little plant heard and it rose to see,
What the wonderful outside world might be.
I don’t really know who wrote the poem, but it has always been a favorite of mine. Since I started teaching yoga, kids classes in particular, I have used that theme many times over. These past two weekends, however, this poem took on a new meaning to me as I discovered what it really means to find that heart of a seed. After a long time, I finally had the luxury of immersing myself in a lot of yin time and slowness. No, this does not mean my life out of the mat had not been busy anymore, but I made a conscious effort to reconnect with my yin practice starting out with the weekend workshops of Sarah Powers and culminating with a Yoga Basics class last Friday and a Yoga for Women’s Health workshop Sunday morning with my long-time teacher, mentor, and dear friend Dona Tumacder-Esteban (on a side note: that workshop was something else and deserves a whole post all for itself, so watch out for that).
The workshop theme was about women’s health and so the moon cycle or our menstrual periods were the main focus of discussion and as Dona talked about this issue through the yin and yang symbol, it dawned on me that indeed, my body (and my practice) is so much like that heart of a seed. There is so much potential buried deep in there, waiting for the right moment to come into fruition. But like that plant buried deep, so deep in that seed, you can’t force it out by prying open the hard outer shell of the seed. Rather, it needs to be nourished by sunlight, buried in the soil, supported by the rain. Only then can this little plant rise up to see what the world is like out there.
In the middle of the workshop, a sudden realization hit me: because I have been so hectic and busy the past few weeks, so much so that I have not have enough time to cultivate enough yin in my life, I was making poor eating choices, not resting well and was extremely exhausted even when I’d get to sleep long enough the night before. I was simply running through my life, but I was not being able to pause and appreciate what a wonderful world outside may be. I wasn’t really being PRESENT for myself.
The workshop also made me realized the value of continuing to integrate yin in my practice. I have always valued and appreciated yin, yes, but I struck me that I should really not take it for granted. It hit me that when I work so hard at keeping up with what I think yoga SHOULD be and not what IT IS (a.k.a. pushing too hard to do an asana my body is not ready for rather than being integrated and true to the posture), I end up just hurting myself and not getting anywhere in the process. When I, however, take time to rest and connect with a yin state, I allow the creative energy to cultivate as I sit still, and from the depths of that yin-ness, springs the manifestations of that energy in my yang practice, allowing me a deeper expression of an asana, with integrity and integration. But if I keep on just pushing and pushing myself to do a pose, like that handstand I wrote about yesterday, I can’t get it. All I manage to do is build up so much yang and at the height of everything, I simply burn out. On a physical plane, this may mean I aggravate my old shoulder injury again. Emotionally, I am left drained and frustrated. And what did I end up achieving? Nothing.
And so after the very stilling, meditative weekend, my body went into it’s own natural yin state, even if my yang mind would not let it. I actually wasn’t even aware of it, but in hindsight, I do see that I did retreat into my shell and pulled away from the activity of the day. It wasn’t till the workshop with Dona did I come to realize that because I allowed myself to cultivate yin by showing up to my practice and allowing myself to take it’s course, I created enough space in my schedule, in my life, and in my practice to appreciate the goodness that comes from taking it slow. As a result, I received an important gift, one that I would have missed if I was going a million miles a minute: clarity. And for that, I am grateful.
Yin Yoga classes are offered regularly in a number of studios in and outside of the city. Check out Yin Yoga Philippines on Facebook for schedules, details and more information about this healing and nourishing practice. Click here for more of my posts about yin