I have discovered a new approach to my health. I essentially do nothing and yet feel better. Truly. Want in on my secret? It's called Yin Yoga.
So technically it's something, not nothing. But the practice is a lot like doing nothing as your muscles aren't supposed to be actively working. Instead you get into a position, find the point at which you can't go deeper, back off 20-30% (or sometimes more), and then prop yourself up so that your muscles can just relax. The result? A deeper release... all the way in your body's connective tissue. Poses are "held" for 3-5 minutes in which you essentially just try to relax, breathe and let go. Yawning is encouraged. In fact, the less you actively do, the better.
I tried Yin Yoga for the first time a little over a week ago. It was surreal.
As I lay in a somewhat contorted, but well supported back bend tears streamed down my face. It was nearly the end of my first Yin Yoga class and I tried not to be self-conscious while crying in a room of 30+ strangers. Although the purpose of the pose was to release the chest, laying with my feet tucked under me had unwound some of the damaged tissue from my accident nearly 7 months prior. In a moment of supreme clarity I realized why I had broken my feet.
No, I'm not talking about the fact that I made a bunch of bad decisions all in a row. Although, yes, that is true too. I'm referring to why it was necessary for me to break my feet.
Your feet are your foundation. Obviously. But strangely as my yoga instructor said this and as the fascia in my feet released some of their tension, I realized that breaking my feet created an opportunity for me to rediscover and redefine who I am at my core.
I grew up with the stereotypical expectations to which most women in the United States are accustomed. I would get married, have children and live happily ever after. And while I am married and happy, the assumption that I would have children has been plaguing me for years. That is, until I broke my feet and spent a month living in Oregon being introspective. It was in that safe and undistracted space that I was finally able to really embrace the truth that I do not want children.
Let me repeat that:
I do not want children.
I will not be having or raising children.
And I will live happily ever after.
Traveling around the world with my husband I have had so many people ask me how many kids we have. And when I say zero, the second question is always the same: when will we? (Or alternatively: what are you waiting for?!) For months I have felt uncomfortable telling these people that I don't want to raise children. My hope is that through this Yin Yoga practice, I can embrace my reworked foundation and confidently conclude future conversations on this topic with a simple: "no, none for me ever, thank you."
For those of you who were excited by the prospect of doing nothing and feeling better for it, don't fret. You too can practice Yin Yoga without fear of wanting to disown your children. That's not to say you won't find some other odd insight buried in your connective tissue, but I think it's doubtful that your revelations will be the same as mine. And perhaps you too will be delighted to get to know yourself better.
And for anyone who is wondering if I cry every time I do Yin Yoga... thankfully, that's only happened once. In fact, I laughed my way through another class were we shoved tennis balls into uncomfortable places like under our ribcages, which turned out to be a most excellent way to heal my bloated gut. After every class, I have found new space, mobility and/or flexibility in my body. And all for the high price of lounging like a ragdoll.