We’re conditioned to seek out comfort and ease, equating both with safety. But safety can lead to “stuck-ness,”
rigidity, and a life lived by routine and habit rather than by intuition and curiosity.
Discomfort gets a bad rap. In practice, it helps us:
- Challenge assumptions about others, ourselves, and the world
- Break down well-worn habits, expectations, and crutches
- Prioritize surrender and acceptance over constant achievement
- Cultivate illumination, consciousness, and awareness
In short, discomfort brings valuable opportunities for growth and change.
Yin Yoga Invites Discomfort
Discomfort is hard enough to let in when it shows up uninvited; few choose it voluntarily. In yin yoga, the body is placed in various poses as the practitioner works to stay as quiet and still as possible for several minutes as sensation and thoughts arise.
In yin, the imperative is to fully engage with a body that’s uncomfortable, coming face to face with the mind as it is: restless and agitated, foggy and dull, and so on. As the outside world fades from immediate awareness, the inner world lights up, revealing thoughts, worries, judgments, fears, regrets, and anything else suppressed in our endless quest to remain comfortable.
[Try This Audio Meditation: “In the Flow of Discomfort.”]
Left alone with a timer, the mind, and sensations traveling through the body, yin offers a space to sit with whatever arises.
Think of yin yoga like an onion: At the outermost layer, it is a wellness and movement practice that lubricates the joints and increases flexibility. Go deeper, and it can be used to feel and release difficult emotions such as fear or anger. At its core, it serves as a catalyst to go deeper into attention, uncovering greater compassion, truth, and acceptance.
This practice can translate into life skills such as:
- Sitting in an uncomfortable-but-necessary conversation, instead of fighting or running away
- Accepting the body’s changes, rather than demanding its conformity
- Remaining calm and responding mindfully when events don’t go as planned
- Letting go of “what should be” and accepting “what is”
Four Yin Yoga Postures for Acceptance and Release
Below is a set of postures that activate stomach and spleen meridians to help release resistance to what is—and to come home to ourselves.