Yin cultivates a safe spaciousness within the body and mind.
Within the stillness emotions can arise that we may not have allowed ourselves
to experience, which may have been denied, suppressed, laid dormant. As the
postures adopted are relatively straightforward and do not require continual
thought we can focus our attention onto the subtlety of our breath, bodily
sensations or mental formations. As our practice develops we become increasingly
aware of the wide spectrum of emotions we experience within the self-same
posture, from one pose to the next and from session to session. We may feel less
pleasurable feelings of terror, confusion, impatience, rage, irritation and
those we prefer to experience: inspiration, peace, calm, pleasure, joy,
happiness and indescribable stillness of mind.
Within the safe container of these shapes we can allow our
emotions to rise and fall without having to react, act out of them, deny or
suppress them. We can quietly notice our craving for the pleasurable and aversion
for the less so. We create a space for our feelings to breathe, to move, to
change to become something else. We learn we can embrace all of ourselves in
stillness, developing emotional maturity and resiliency. We cultivate new pathways
to relate to these transitory states, states that may have been hitherto
intolerable and all-encompassing. Anchored deeply in shapes, inhabiting the body
and breath, we can clearly see the nature of our feelings, experiencing them
from the inside whilst simultaneously dis-identifying, knowing that we are
vastly more than our emotions, minds and bodies. This sense of groundedness is
aided by all the postures being held on the floor. There are no standing poses
or balances. The body is close to the earth, weighted down where gravity and
our breath can do the work.
In Chinese medicine what emotions are present within us and
our associated judgement of them is perceived as less important. What is seen
as much more significant is whether our emotions can flow freely without any
obstructions. Each organ can be classified as either yin or yang and has a
counterpart that shares similar emotional, psychological and energetic
components but differs in its physical characteristics. Each pairing has
specific emotions associated with them which become operative depending on
whether the chi flow is balanced or disharmonious. There is a reciprocal
relationship between the health of our organ-meridians and our emotions. If we
experience prolonged bouts of a particular feeling it will affect the
corresponding organ-meridian and equally the health of that organ will mean
that we have a greater propensity to feel certain emotions more readily.
For example, if we have been very stressed, fearful and/or exhaustedly
persevered we negatively influence our
kidney chi. If our kidney chi is stagnant or deficient it can cause us to feel
much more frightened more easily. It
operates in both directions. In contrast, when our kidney chi is in harmony it
can enable us to access our inherent wisdom, openness and gentleness. Certain
postures such as sphinx or saddle are beautiful ways to nourish our kidney chi.
When we hold these passive backbends we may notice fear arising and allow it to
come up and move through us. We may experience intense anger, envy or
frustration when we focus on opening up the hips as we work with the liver
meridian-organ, indications of liver chi disharmony. But, when we can embrace
these emotions and ourselves in these postures we can strengthen our ability to
take care of ourselves and nourish our innate compassionate nature. Compassion
is the emotion associated with harmonious liver chi.
Each organ-meridian pairing also has a particular colour,
season, climate and taste associated with it. For example, when we are opening
up the hips and working with the liver meridian it is associated with the birth
cycle. Maternal thoughts and feelings about our own mothers or children can
surface for healing and transmutation and for this reason one of my teachers
used to advise we did not phone our mothers for an hour or so after class!