Full of excitement and anticipation, as I nervously walked into the Shala on my first day, any apprehension instantly melted away. I was relieved to learn that many of my fellow students had experienced similar fears about whether or not they were ‘ready’ to take the next step on their yoga journey, and most were also unsure whether they actually wanted to pursue a career in teaching. Thankfully I needn’t ever have worried about my preconceived perception of the standard of my practise. I was by no means the strongest asana practitioner in the room, however there was no pressure or emphasis placed on whether or not we could nail the perfect handstand; quite the opposite in fact!
Over recent years, yoga has been commonly marketed as a means to get fit, and while improved fitness can often be one of the ‘perks’ of a regular asana practise, it’s certainly not traditionally regarded as the primary goal. There are of course the obvious superficial physical advantages, including increased strength, flexibility, balance and improved posture, whereas the less marketed, yet arguably more profound energetic benefits are only realised by many of us once we start to feel and experience them ourselves.
So, what happens when you integrate Qi Gong practises with yoga? A fusion of these two deeply healing methodologies can cultivate a more heightened awareness, by synchronizing fluid, intentional and mindful movements with the breath, creating portals to journey into a blissful, meditative state of flow, while simultaneously strengthening the body.
While more dynamic yoga disciplines generally work the superficial muscle groups, Yin goes deeper, to target connective tissues, ligaments, bones and our remarkable fascial network, by passively holding and relaxing into static postures. On entering into a pose, and finding the ‘edge’, or manageable amount of sensation; emphasis is then placed on finding stillness and softness.
The truth is, there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to which time of the day we should aspire to roll out our mat. Each of us have different rhythms and energy patterns, which can change and fluctuate depending on our individual circumstances and the time of year, therefore it’s essential that we take our own personal wants and needs into consideration, when deciphering what time we should aim to set aside for our yoga practise.
Often referred to as ‘winter depression’, triggers can include a disrupted body clock, high melatonin levels (which can cause fatigue), and extreme weather. However, there are measures we can take to combat the often-difficult symptoms linked to a low mood during the winter months
One of the definitions which really struck a chord with me, is when being embodied was likened to that feeling we've all experienced, when you know deep down whether a situation or event feels right or wrong. Our minds might be telling us one thing, but in my experience, that wiser intuitive feeling never lies. This was the moment that I knew there was more to this, and it had my full attention.