by Elliot Lyons
Yesterday, during my yoga session, my teacher said, “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
I’ve been doing yoga on-and-off for a few years, and once I heard a friend of my girlfriend was studying to become a yoga teacher and was looking for people to practice on, I jumped at the chance.
We do Yin yoga, where you hold poses for a long time in targeted stretches. With each breath, you breathe into the pose to relax the muscles.
What stops me from being able to completely release into poses is telling myself to completely release into poses. This happens because most of my days are spent organizing my thoughts in order to act on them.
But Yin yoga requires something different. I have to go into poses with my breath, letting the flow of my breathing patterns guide thoughts in and out—observing them, not judging them, and then letting them pass—feeling the areas where my body is stretching. And just be there.
“This is where stuff happens,” she told me, in the space where we learn to accept who we are by letting go.
“Things shift,” she said, both physically and emotionally because we spend so much time ignoring who we are in pursuing who we think we should be, who we want to be. Chasing these shoulds and wants is so important that we push away our feelings when certain things like disappointment or conflict hit us, all in order to keep going.
But it’s just as important to pay attention to how we feel about what happens in the process of striving to become who we want to be. And not be so hard on ourselves, tuning into the way the process makes us feel.
Feeling that point where there’s a stretch and then holding it there, being in those moments, taking them for what they are and not what we want them to be, and then releasing them.
Forever refining the process, learning more about ourselves and where we need to go by going to that place where we can just exist, because down there we never know who we will find.
But it will always be who we are.