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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Getting comfortable with discomfort - Part I

I am back after another brief blogging hiatus.  I have been travelling quite a bit over the past few weeks, my first trip taking me to Vancouver to partake in a 50 hour Yin Yoga workshop with Bernie Clark.  This workshop was transformational.  I know, I know, more about transformation, but as someone who had previously engaged almost exclusively in the world of the more yang-styles of the practice, this workshop absolutely blew my mind!

One of the original 'Yinsters' and a MASTER teacher: Bernie Clark

The theme of the week for me was 'getting comfortable with discomfort'.  Yin yoga is a style of yoga where you perform a relatively few number of postures and hold each of them for a long time.  It is done mostly on the floor and a lot of props are often used to help you stay supported in the pose.  The main idea is to get the muscles to fully relax so that you can exercise the joints and connective tissues of the body.  What does it feel like?  Well, it feels like whatever part of the body you are targeting is in traction!  And if you have never had traction, well, it is kind of like having braces.  If you haven't had either, well you must be perfect and not need yin yoga.  No, I am just kidding.  Yin yoga is for everyone, and for those of you who have never experienced anything like it, the sensation that you are trying to create is a bit of a dull, achy sensation.  In other words, its a bit uncomfortable.

But this is only the physical side of the practice.  This style of yoga also has energetic benefits.  It works to unblock the energy meridians of the body -- the same ones that acupuncture and acupressure work on.  One of the catch phrases in Yin is that we all have 'issues in the tissues'.  This is alluding to the fact that we store emotions in our body as energy and when we unblock these meridians, these emotions come bubbling up again.  This is creates a wonderful opportunity to release this stored energy, which is very good for us, however, it can be quite uncomfortable.

What is more, Yin yoga also has many benefits for the mind.  Given how still you are for most of the practice, it is quite meditative in nature.  Again, this practice is quite rigorous in that it is asking you to quiet the mind amidst the relative chaos that is happening in the body - more about getting comfortable with the discomfort.

Not surprisingly, my need to get in touch with my 'Yin-side' (haha, no pun intended, but it is funny, get it?  In-side?) spilled out into the rest of my trip.  I felt like I was being tested - as if the Universe was saying, 'so you want to be more Yin do you...'  For starters, we had to get up each day at 5:30 in order to get to the sessions on time.  I am not a morning person and I typically to do not enjoy getting up so early.  Okay, that is a HUGE understatement.  Being tired is one sensation that I loathe and waking up after so few hours of sleep (I was staying with two friends and we tended to stay up LATE) would normally send me into a state of complete and utter panic.  This has been the case since I was a young child, and my family learned to steer clear of me in the morning lest they say the wrong thing or look at me the wrong way.  For me, being tired, especially first thing in the morning when my blood sugar is so low, is very uncomfortable.

I would be lying if I said that I woke up each day with a huge grin on my face, but I did manage to keep myself calm, cool, and collected.  My only incidents were on the first day where I nearly threw up as I was signing in at the studio (darn low blood sugar), and nearly knocking myself out as I left the house one morning, but otherwise, I simply took deep breaths into my low belly and rode out the discomfort I was experiencing.  I was surprised at how quickly the discomfort surrendered into ease.

More tests arose throughout the week, needing to sit on the floor for long periods of time, doing a lot of walking in shoes that had no business doing so, sharing a small space with two lovely gals and not getting on each others nerves and more.  In the end, I have to say that it was all much, much easier than I thought it would be.  I had a lot of fears going into the week, many of which turned out to be unfounded.  As I said at the beginning of this post, overall it was a great experience.  I learned a TON of information that I will be integrating in both my classes at the studio and my retreats in Nordegg.

Myself and my two beautiful travelling companions and roommates: Krista and Melanie

As Bernie would say, 'Yin is IN'... and I would have to agree!

Much love,
MareBare xoxo

P.S. If you want to know more about where I took this course: click here:
Semperviva Studios in Vancouver, BC

P.P.S Stay tuned for Part II of this post (coming soon) -- I took my new Yin-self into the backcountry with three beautiful gals!


  1. Hmmm... very interesting. I've often experienced what I call the "yoga breakdown" when I'm practicing. It's usually during either an intense stretch or a restorative pose, and I'll suddenly just "lose it" and start sobbing uncontrollably. This is one reason I prefer to practice at home rather than in a class with a bunch of other people! I wonder if that phenomenon is somehow related to the "issues with the tissues" that you mention.

    CatMan is a big fan of both Rolfing and Reichian therapy, both of which involve the therapist manipulating the body and allowing the release of pent up emotions. It all makes so much more sense to me than trying to find a way to "think through" our feelings, which isn't really possible when you think about it (yuk, yuk.)

  2. @ ECL - ah yes, the 'Yoga breakdown'... I have had more than a few myself. Let the HEALING BEGIN! It is absolutely related to 'issues in the tissues'. We store our emotions in our bodies - especially the ones that we don't allow ourselves to completely experience/release. Often, we 'stuff' them. Where do they go? Into our cells. We stretch and release tension. Tension = stress = pent-up emotions... Yoga = HEALING!!! Rolfing, same principle. Also awesome! Nice work on getting 'er done! xoxo Much love!