My approach to yoga practice as well as teaching has changed significantly over recent years and continues to ease into a much quieter way of being in this body and on this earth. As a longtime practitioner and teacher, I can say that yoga continues to unravel a wild mystery for me. It’s so much more than asana. Yoga has helped me to take an honest look at myself and the world around me. Of course what is shown isn’t always the feel-good, blissed-out woowoo stuff some want us to believe. Over time and if we stick with it, yoga shows us the truth. Truth isn’t always what we expect, wish for or plan on.
When I was new to yoga, I had zero interest in any of the more gentle styles. I was so yang! I once said, “why would I want to go lay around on the floor with other people?” I avoided slow. I wanted to feel the asana in a very physical way. I loved long, strong holds, advanced postures and going into my edges and often times through or past them. I felt this helped me to feel like I was actually *in* my body. Perhaps this was what it needed to be then. But as I grew older, I began to wander and my interest in yoga began to waver and change.
Very often, the deep is in the wandering.
I always practiced yoga in a very yang way. Hugging in, engaging my muscles and rarely ever relaxing. I have hypermobile joints and was always instructed by my teachers to practice this way. Over time, this Yang approach was carrying through into every aspect of not only my practice, but my whole life. I was always engaged and I wasn’t relaxed. Not at all.
~ Esme Weijun Wang
This way of being and practicing began to cause all sorts of pain in my body and my life. My joints ached, I felt spun out and unfocused. I was losing interest in asana as I knew it. I wondered if the twenty plus year love affair I had with yoga was coming to an end. I was in pain. A lot of pain. My knees felt like hot lava, on fire, crumbling and as if they were full of broken glass. I started to blame myself for being too hard on my body. After a couple of years of this mystery knee torture, I was finally diagnosed with RA, a chronic, systemic autoimmune condition that targets the joints, tissues and organs. It all began to make sense. I had to sit with this for a while. I was forced to pause. This changed everything.
Yoga asana as I practiced, no longer felt okay for my body. The joint damage I had already sustained was bad enough, and I wanted to continue to be able to move my body and avoid ending up in a wheelchair. I began to limit my practice to the floor, for the most part. I also didn’t practice yoga poses as I knew them. I simply stayed still in my body, relaxed my muscles, and softened into my natural alignment without trying to align, correct or fix a damn thing. Without really realizing at the time, I had found a Yin practice and it felt like what was missing all along. Accepting old and new physical or skeletal limitation as part of having a body. Appreciating and understanding my unique anatomy. I felt like I achieved so much by not trying to achieve anything. This was Yin. And for the first time, yoga didn’t feel busy. I was relaxed. Everything as it was, good or bad, was okay.
I dove into Yin yoga and it’s deep, dark, calm waters. I felt held there. I was re-inspired. I also began studying energy medicine so as to learn more about the body’s energy systems like the meridians which are an important part of Yin yoga practice. I studied all I could because practice made sense again, and felt like I had found what was always missing; A quiet practice.
I continue to study, practice and teach this way of going in. I also have a love for Restorative Yoga where I include energy medicine techniques and exercises to enhance the calming benefits of the practice.
In my classes you are always welcome to come exactly as you are. You have permission to be you. Life is a full spectrum experience and it’s always changing, morphing and surprising us. I invite you to join me in stopping the glorification of busy. The waters are calm and inviting here.
Love and Ease,