Take it to the Mat: Softness in Your Core
Sometimes, the words come easily. Other times, there is much quiet. The last few days, there has been a quietness in my voice. No words to flow through my fingertips. My inner wisdom has guided me into a place where words are not enough. There must be being. And then, once there has been rest, there will be doing.
As a human being – and more importantly as a woman – there is a certain softness that is of importance when we are with ourselves. We have high expectations of what we should do, could do, will do, and actually do each and every day. When we do not live up to those expectations, we feel as though we are not enough. But, who are we not enough for? Ourselves? Our spouse, children, or friends? Are we not enough for the Universe? The answer is simple. We are enough. Come as you are, dear friend. Male or femaile. Young or old. Weak or strong. If, when you feel into your big picture, you are happy – then you are exactly who you are meant to be. If not, it may be time to reassess.
There are times that we all walk through our lives full of mental clutter and bodily baggage. There is a heaviness in our steps, our thoughts, our gut. There seems to be limited room for breath. This is the time when we must reassess what is versus what could be. This is the time when it is most important to live from our core. Our core is the softest place of our body. Though we can strengthen and challenge it physically, there is still a need for this softness. This Yin.
In Yin Yoga, we sit in our bodies with a stillness. There is an introversion, a coming back down to earth, a calmness. The front of our bodies is completely Yin in nature. It is the place where we can find the stillness and the peace. Our Yang bodies, the back of our bodies. on the otherhand hold our tension, have increased musculature, and the ability to bring us up off of the earth. This is why we use backbands to invigorate us – as we extend through our spine we use our muscles.
Why do we find calm in Yin poses? The core of our body holds a second nervous system. This nervous system, the Enteric Nervous System, or Belly Brain, relates to our emotional body. Our thoughts create our feelings, our feelings create our behaviors, our behaviors create our actions. If we are full of worry, we feel anxious. If we feel anxious, we begin new habits of coping (healthy or unhealthy). These new habits can either foster actions that improve our overall well-being, or they can cause us to come into a disharmonious cycle.
Think well, feel well, create well, do well, BE well.
Draw the senses inward with a Seated Forward Bend. Moving into our Yin body relaxes the mind and places the focus on being in our center. To begin, come into a long-legged seated position. Lengthen your spine and extend through your toes. Drop your chin in toward your chest and lower the front of your body. Reach your chest towards your legs and extend your arms out in front of you (alongside or on top of your legs). Breathe here. Give yourself room to grow here. Feel the stretch in the connective tissue along the back of your neck and spine. Do not force this stretch. Know your body. If you have pain or disharmony upon flexion (forward bending) of the neck or spine, take small stretches. (This should not be performed by pregnant women and those with any known compression of the spine, discs, or spinal nerves.)
Once you are living in and from your core, the next step is to find strength in the softness. Look at your belly, and say: Do not mistaken my softness for weakness. You can find your intuitive body within that center, yet still encourage it to become more firm. Firm in your inner wisdom and faith. Firm in it’s ability to give to others and your own being.
May you be balanced and open, may you be peaceful and present, may you be full of life-joy, may you be unconditionally loved, and may you find strength in the softness.