Happy Mabon! Feast of the (Y)Ingathering
Wow! Did I take a break from posting or what? Five months! Enjoying spring and summer is hard work, and my Sagittarius nature is prone to indulgence. But here we are at the autumn equinox, known as Mabon in some circles (Wiccan, Celtic and Pagan), the name of of a Welsh warrior and knight of Ye Olde Round Table.
Also known as the Feast of the Ingathering, Mabon was the second of three harvest festivals back when the world marked time based on an agricultural clock. Bringing in the bounty from the fields, storing them for the winter months ahead and giving thanks to Mother Earth for a fruitful harvest occupied the ancestors during the longer, cooler days of fall. This is the time to slow down and seek balance in all that we do, feel, think, consume and say. It is a powerful time for self-care.
Taking in is a conceptually yin or feminine principle, which is why autumn is such an auspicious time to begin Yin Yoga. Drawing on the duality of yin and yang from Eastern medicine and philosophy, Yin Yoga brings one closer to the stillness and silence at the center of our being that has the capacity to heal and nourish. Receptivity, introspection, slowness, and quiet are qualities associated with yin energy.
Yin Yoga is a practice of floor-based postures that are held to induce a release of myofascial tension. Yin relaxes contracted muscles, tones connective tissue, improves blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulates the stretch reflex. Connective tissue called fascia that wraps every nerve, muscle fiber and organ in our bodies takes nearly 3 minutes to respond to tensile (something is getting stretched) and and compressive (something is getting squooshed) forces. If you do yoga, you will likely recognize most or all Yin poses.
We use many props in Yin, bolsters, blankets, cushions, straps and lots of blocks, the better to sink and deeply relax into the poses. There is not as intense a focus on alignment, straight lines and angles as in more dynamic, yang forms of yoga such as Hatha, Vinyas and Ashtanga. But don't think that means it's gentle or restorative, quite the opposite. Yin is an excellent and rigorous form of deep meditation and emotional processing because we strive to remain still as the body sinks down into the pose, supported by Mother Earth beneath us.
Hip openers at this time of year are great to combat the increased sitting many of us may end up doing as the weather gets cooler, not to mention the how the predominantly sedentary lifestyle of first world countries raises the populations' risks for heart disease, obesity and diabetes. When hips get tight, the tension manifests in buttock pain, sciatica, and emotional imbalances such as anxiety, depression and fatigue. Hips don't lie, yo.
In order to make room for the new, we gotta chuck the old, move the old energy out, allow fresh prana to flood (y)in. So dive (y)in! Ok, that's the last one, I swear; alliterative puns are plentiful with Yin Yoga. Yin practice imparts a youthful freedom to keep moving the body with grace, ease, and pleasure as we age, which is no small gift. The emotional release is profound, too. Shoot, I processed a huge chunk of my uber painful cataclysmic divorce in Yin poses on my mat. Today, I can look back with peace and clarity, and draw empowering knowledge that has become my own personal wisdom-o-meter enabling me to release, relax and let go as I move into a blazingly fun and fruitful new chapter in the Book Of YogiLa. Woot!
Soooooo . . .
Come check out Yin Yoga with me ... TONIGHT! Every Thursday in the Barrow Mansion at 6:30 p.m. for one hour I will guide you into shapes, through breathwork and cap it all off with a drool-worthy deep relaxation. My super fall discount is in effect through Halloween $10 per class! Best deal in town, Chilltown that is. Bring your sweet, luminous, lovely self, a mat and some water. I have all the props we will need.
Your own experience is ALWAYS the best teacher.