This past weekend, I did a three-hour Yin/Yang yoga class with the amazing Daniela. On her rooftop, surrounded by plants and herbs, with a view of other Tel Aviv rooftops. Ok, so to clarify, it wasn’t a three-hour class per se; it was two classes—one and a half hours of Yang Yoga—an active practice that builds strength and stamina and includes standing poses and balance poses and powerful breath work; and Yin Yoga—a more passive practice where poses are held for long periods of time, usually while seated or prone and often with the eyes closed.
And in between the two classes—dates and soothing herbal tea made from herbs growing on Daniela’s rooftop.
And, full disclosure, I walked into the class feeling down. Feeling like it’s so hard to start over when you’re 52. Like, I am tired of so much new-ness. Granted, I’m not completely starting over, I’m blessed to be here doing this immigration thing with my amazing supportive husband. But still…it’s hard to be faced around every corner with yet another one of your inadequacies…
It can play with the mind. Find its way into the body…no matter how many positive affirmation mantras you do. Some days are just hard. Some days I am looking for the refresh button on my own personal keyboard.
The refresh I got was a lot of wisdom coming from Daniela. As we stood in our yang poses, muscles working, breath expanding, she told us that these strong working muscles remind us that we are strong. It’s right there in the tissues. As if the body is saying, gorgeous creature, I know you feel so weak and tired, but you are strong, you got this, look at how you are holding up your body!
And sometimes, when stuff needs to get done, we need to channel that strength. When the babies are sick and the house is a mess, when the friends are all busy and the bills need to get paid, we channel that strength. And we remind ourselves that we are strong. What an amazing reminder!
And after our tea break, we took our bolsters and softened into a very embryonic 90 minutes of yin. In fact, Daniela said that yin yoga is like curling up in that safe space of the womb, that liminal warm place where we are held in love. As I lay in one of the poses, Daniela reminded us that, while sometimes we need to channel our yang energy, we also must not forget our yin…the energy that needs to soften, put aside the aggression and even solitude, and feel the comfort of being held.
And as she said these words, she came over and put something under my head; I hadn’t even realized I was stretching my neck in a very uncomfortable way. (We get so used to pushing away the pain, don’t we?) But with the support she gave me, I could soften. And the softening gave me permission to cry. Which I did, silently.
And I just lay it all down. I realized I didn’t have to carry it all. As we so often do.
Daniela’s teaching reminded that I am both—yin and yang. I am strong. And I am soft. I can carry so much. And sometimes I need to be carried. And sometimes I am not feeling what is required at that moment. And that’s ok too. Because, actually it’s all ok. Really, it’s all ok.
So let us remind ourselves (because we will forget!) that we have the strength and we have the resources and we have the permission to lay it all down and be held—by our loved ones, by a mesmerizing sunset, a walk in the woods, prayer, and by art and words and music.
I close by bringing your attention to the cover art, which is a collage done by my daughter Eva for one of her art classes, and with the beautiful words of the Ecuadorian poet, Alicia Yanez Cossio:
La paz del campo se metió en el alma
nada tiene de raro
que llegue el último ocaso
mientras se muerde una guayaba.
The peace of the field got into the soul
nothing is strange
let the last sunset come
while biting into a guava.