RESTORATIVE-YIN YOGA involves supported body/mind relaxation. This is gentle, gentle yoga that promotes deep relaxation for stress reduction while also stretching and rehabilitating connective tissue.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Gate Of Light Opens

Copyright Lance Kinseth, Wisdom Shine / Chisho, 2011

Birds of many Earthen colors peck at the iced bath
And come in close for seeds.

The teeter-totter of day and night has tipped toward light.
Daylight lengthens almost imperceptibly
But for the perceptive ones in every era
In this ice-cold landscape of death
Light becomes an opening, promising gate
And life slow-spirals forward from ice into fire.

With this change
We are wont to set resolutions to fit such a glorious new start.
All of a sudden,
We aspire to live differently, more richly, more purposively.

We look a little deeper both into the dark and into the growing light.
We see a pathway forward that twists our everyday life into something eloquent.

Still, even finding our life to be inside a vast miracle,
We try to decide if a change is worth our effort
And stand to fall back inside the dream-sleep of the everyday.

Will wind that has suddenly become a prayer cease being a prayer
And the venerable oak cease being a temple
And return to being an irrelevant background?

In this short yet rich miracle that is the life of each of us
Why do we tend to cast the very best aside?

IT IS A NEW YEAR, and a new day.  Perhaps in waking, still lying in bed, we might experience a moment of gratitude for having awakened, and the subtle “joy” that is opened by simply awakening to a new day.  As a “body-mind practice,” we might silently say, “gratitude.”  This word implies much more than one word.  It can become a “culled-down” way of saying so much more, like the Buddhist response to the Anapanasati Sutra wherein Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in gradually might slo-cook down to become simply “In.”

Perhaps this new day is the dramatic first day of the new year or less dramatically a day lost anywhere in the year, just a day after a weekend—a Monday—or perhaps a mid-week “hump day.”  But perhaps on this day, a restorative-yin yoga session is offered nearby.

We come to a restorative-yin practice session. We take off your shoes outside the practice space.  We step through a doorway. The floor is perhaps wooden and solid.  The walls are likely hard surfaces, but painted in a soft, Earthen color, unadorned, and the light subdued. 

Crossing over the threshold of the doorway into the practice room, there is an opportunity for a step—hopefully—through a gateway to a calmer terrain. 

In restorative practice, the harshness of putting the brakes on and slowing down begins, first, by the ritual of gathering supports for practice—blocks and blankets and balls, perhaps accompanied by a facilitator’s addition of the fragrance of incense and the music of soft sacred chants or flute and piano.

We begin, agreeably, to step out of the fast pace of the everyday.  We are not trying to step out of our life, as much as we are aspiring to “swell” our aliveness, to open our experience, to open the “moreness” of our living.  And so we come to the matt, to the First Excellence of yoga: to become fully present in our lives as-they-are in this moment: perhaps stillness first, aspiring to reach an interior stillpoint, but always stilled to some degree wherein breath emerges in our awareness, and we come to pranayama, “breath work.”


RESTORATIVE-YIN YOGA is not really a set of poses as it is typically presented—a set of poses especially for those “who cannot do regular yoga” due to physical limits.   Restorative-yin yoga endures because it offers great depth, and great penetration into life.  Being in restorative-yin poses provokes a deep listening and quietness that opens dimensions of body—mind-spirit that are not readily accessible in the faster pace of modern yoga. 

Still, for all of its benefits, restorative-yin practice is a dimension of yoga for which there is not enough time for nearly everyone to fit into daily life.  Modern life is jammed, perhaps, with children and work and things-to-get-done and what we did yesterday and how that went for us, all of which that make it so very important to get a good workout, to get physical.  So if it going to be “yoga” in the West, that likely will mean “fitness”—‘sweat and heat”—if possible. 

Oh, yes, it would be nice to add some slow-paced relaxation and eased stretch, but life seems to be about survival, and there is so little time.  In fact, as our lives march forward, the clock appears to be ticking faster, and there is likely to be less time than there was before, even less time than there was last week.  And weeks seem to disappear as fast as days and, in no time at all, months seem to disappear as fast as weeks and, eventually, even years seem to do the same.  Has it been two years, five, ten?

When we really begin to “get it,” to “get what life is really about,” the task is one of  “thriving” rather than “surviving.”  Health swells from being fitness, at first to “wellness,” that is more holistic [involving nutrition and something called “relaxation,” for which there is little time], to become something that is inherent and yet, somehow, vast, and even “spiritual”—something that we begin to sense that has never, really, been lost—something that is NOT wrong, rather than the excision or catharsis of that which appears to be wrong (“disease” or “disorder”).
Quieting and calming, “problems” transform from limits to be overcome to events that may offer information and opportunity.  Quieting, there is the discovery that there are no limits, rather than a sense of having limits.  We may be “limited” by the fact that we are different from someone else, but we can discover that “differences” offer a nuance of grace than someone else doesn’t possess.  Paradoxically, the pathway forward for each person is “different” and an unending story/journey of self/life/cosmos, if we have the senses for it.

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