Yin Yoga and the Art of Letting Go
This morning, with the sun streaming in on my yoga mat, I lie flat on my back with one leg stretched over the other. The muscles deep in my hips and thighs are talking to me:
"Oh, that’s tight ... Wow ... OK, this is intense. Oh, God … I think that’s enough stretching. No, really! FUCK … This is torture!”
If you’ve ever stretched your quads and IT band, I know you understand. The voice gets louder and louder until all I can hear is a rising string of curse words. I feel my muscles aching and firing, tensing and releasing. I’m breathing like a rag doll, the mantra of “DEAR GOD, GET ME OUT OF THIS ALIVE” on my lips. Holy shit.
This is Yin Yoga. You think you’re going to do some deep, restorative yoga stretches to the sound of wind chimes and ocean waves. But what you’ll actually do is find the deepest tension in your body and apply love, breath and time into coaxing those tight places into release.
Yin Yoga is deeply therapeutic, but also the hardest work I’ve ever done. I usually skip it in favor of something … easier.
This hellishly beautiful pose (pictured above by some Hotshot Yoga Model Who Makes It Look Easy) brings me to tears. I am in it for five minutes on each side. THE LONGEST FIVE MINUTES OF MY LIFE.
Halfway through the second side, I start laughing. Belly laughing. “Oh, God! OK, I GET IT, Universe. The yoga is mirroring my life right now. THIS IS VERY FUNNY.” Here I am in the most challenging pose of my life, and I’m desperate to get through it as quickly and painlessly as possible. But I can’t. The whole POINT of the pose is just to BE here and not run away.
About a month ago, I was driving at night on the interstate and hit a deer that wandered into the right lane. The deer did not fare well, and my car didn’t come out much better. Since then, I've been in what could generously be described as a “clusterfuck" with our car insurance, tow companies, estimators and multiple repair shops.
Every new solution we find turns into a dead end. Every deadline gets pushed back to a later date. Every estimate we get is inflated in order to game the insurance system. It all feels so sleazy and difficult, and all I can think is, “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?"
On a spiritual level, I believe that every challenge in my life appears for a reason— somewhere within each obstacle lies a lesson that my soul wants to learn. When I feel resistance like this, I try to meditate, sort through my emotions and gain clarity on how to move forward. It’s not very graceful. It’s hard work, and I have to be willing to see my own part in the messes I make.
When this first happened I was like, “Damn, Higher Power. I SO did not deserve this.” And Higher Power said, “Well, neither did that deer you killed.” Touché.
Shit happens … to everybody. The real test is how we respond to it.
This test in particular has brought out a whole cast of characters in me — the Control Freak, the Bossy Bitch, the Nice Girl, the Zen Goddess and the Whiny Baby all are working their angles, while I sit here wondering:
“WHAT on earth am I in this mess to learn? Because I want to learn it — fast — and get the hell out of here.”
This is why I think Yin Yoga is good for me. I don’t get to escape. I can't run away or get through it quickly, because I’d be cheating myself of all the deep healing and release that my body needs. Maybe this car accident is my soul’s version of Yin Yoga, and what I’m releasing is actually … control.
In the meantime, there are a lot of great things happening despite the car fiasco. I have endless time to write, which is my Number One Goal for this month.
Our friends with beautiful homes have invited us to sleep in their well-appointed guest rooms, do our laundry, cook in their giant kitchens, play with their sweet dogs, eat their chocolate and binge-watch Stranger Things on Netflix.
There’s more. I could make a long list of all the sweet provision and kindness we receive every day. Positive Emily is just BURSTING with all these reasons why I should count my blessings and look at this car accident in a different light. She can be really chirpy and annoying, though.
Sometimes, Positive Emily just doesn’t REACH me where I really am, because letting go of control hurts. It aches. I’m flailing and cursing and blaming everything on the planets and self-medicating with ice cream bars.
I’m also taking a 3-month sober period right now for creative and health reasons, so someone give me a gold medal because I haven’t had a sip of wine through any of this. It’s good for me — there is no way to numb or check out from the process.
A new radiator, hood, compressor, fan, bumper and paint job will put our Toyota back on the road. By the time that actually happens, I may have achieved a new level of enlightenment.
Yours truly in all the mess,