Archives for posts with tag: surrender

I prefer to teach “yin” yoga classes in my morning and evening classes on the last workday. On the last workday, students come to class with tired bodies and minds even though they cannot admit it to themselves. In this case, we need to relieve and relax their bodies and minds.

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I wanted to do something different in my “yin” classes last week. My aim was to bend forward and then backward, forward and backward and physically stretch the spine and mentally turn inside and open to outside world. At least, I wanted the students to observe how it felt like to bend forward first and then backward.

After a long meditation, we began by bending the spine forward with “butterfly.” We were not in a hurry. So, I decided to keep the students in one pose for at least five minutes. Of course, I recommended that they should get out of the pose if they felt any physical or emotional disturbance. That day, my aim was to intensify on the spine with forward and back bend and so, I asked the students to keep their feet away from their hips in “butterfly” pose. We began the pose as much as the bodies prevailed. We did not push the bodies hard but we just waited the bodies to get into the pose slowly. After we waited for some time, the spine could relax more and bent forward more and more. And even the bodies did not want to get out of the pose when the time came.

After the forward bend, we bent backward with “sphinx” pose. In that pose, the closer the arms were to the body, the more we would feel the lumbar spine and the more we kept the hands away from the body, the less the compression on the lower back would be. That day, everybody began at the level s/he wanted as we would stay in the pose for at least five minutes. So I recommended that they got into the pose slowly without forcing their bodies and deepen as time passed.

We were working on the spine, which was related with the urinary bladder. The urinary bladder was related with the emotion fear. Was it easier to bend forward or backward? Or should I ask this way? Was it easier to turn inward or to open to the outside world? To turn inward? To bend in front of somebody else or to step backward even if we were right? Or to bend backward and look at the past or to love more? Which one was easier?

In the rest of the class, the sequence went on as “half butterfly”, “seal”, “caterpillar”, “salabhasana” and “dragonfly.” In the end, we twisted the spine with “twisted roots” and “twisted twisted roots” and rested in “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose).

I got some feedback and comments after the morning and evening classes. Students came by me and wanted to share their feelings. I listened to them all. One of them told me that she had so much difficulties in bending back. I asked her if she had some emotional problems and how she was feeling lately and she told me that she was undergoing an emotionally difficult time. I told her that she might have felt problems because of that and she should take a rest and should not push her more if she felt such problems again in yin yoga class. Another student was having difficulties in bending forward. However our spine was used to “flexion” and “bending forward” in our daily lives. How could it have difficulties? Actually it was not that simple. Bending forward was turning inward, watching and observing your emotions, listening to your true self, accepting yourself, surrendering. Could we do that? Could we accept ourselves as we are or was it difficult for us to stay by ourselves? Were we organizing events and meetings just not to stay by ourselves? Could not we tolerate to stay on our own and listen to ourselves? Were we trying to meet our friends just not to listen to our internal voice? Did we like to do something alone? To go to the movies alone? To dine at a restaurant alone? To go to the museum alone? To wander around alone? To go shopping alone? If we did not have any problems with being alone, so why was bending forward difficult? Maybe it was difficult for us to bend in front of others. Maybe our true self did not want to bend in front of others. Sometimes we needed to apologize and step back even if we are right. Were we stubborn? Could we surrender? Could we totally give ourselves up in an “asana” and relax our bodies, minds and stay there just watching the breath? Could we just wait? Could we just stay and could we just “be”? Or were we continuously moving in poses, changing our pose, counting minutes and thinking that time was not flying. That is, were we always the “doer”? Actually how we behaved on the yoga mat were the reflection of how we behaved in the real world. Were we accepting the life as it was, surrender, and let go with the flow and live an easy life or were we making the life difficult by intervening and trying to change it?

We did a spiritual and mental examination as we bent forward and backward. Some of the students said that this was the first time that they felt this much peaceful, that they went by the flow for the very first time, that they closed their eyes, that they even did not hear me talking, that they really turned inward. “Maybe it was because of the music you played. Was your preference on purpose.” No, it was not on purpose. Sixth sense? Maybe… Because of the “bhava” (emotion, mood) of the class? Maybe, I do not know. The only thing I know was that the students needed to take a rest from the rush of the daily life, turn inward and deepen that day. And to give me feedbacks and share with me…

“To be one and whole”… “The unity and integrity of the body, mind and soul”… The meaning of “yoga”… “To be yoga”… I have been teaching yoga for three years. Are my classes just a physical workout or can I touch the souls and minds? Are my classes bring bodily relief and progress or do they change the perspective on life and make spiritual and mental progress? Can I make a change even it is a minor change? Can my classes go beyond physical exercise and enable bodily, spiritual and mental unity and integrity? Could I make a difference in the perspective, approach and stance of my students on life?

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You may have thought why I am talking about all these. I have been often thinking about it recently. Are my classes just physical exercise? Do my classes consist of a series of asanas joined to each other and a peak pose that “is tried to be done” at the end of the class? Can I make a change in approaches and stance? Or in energetical sense? Does male or female energy prevail my classes? And I am thinking about life when I am thinking all these. The country we are living and the world. The recent incidents. And a question comes to my life: Why do we let the male energy prevail the world and dominate us? Why this much violence? Why this much anger? Why this much battle, row, argument, war and terror? Why and why?

In these days when violence prevails, i.e. the male energy, prevails… In these days this cruelty, this anger and this terror is more violent than ever, I am heading towards a yoga class and I am about to write a blog. Just watch yourself when you fell this much tense. Go over your body. For example beware of your shoulders. Maybe you have lifted your shoulders up and brought them close to your ears. Thus, you have squeezed the shoulder girdle and neck and become more tense? Are you squeezing your teeth? What about the area between the eyebrows? As you may have realized, our body gets tense when we feel tense and stressed and certain parts of the body gets tense. Therefore relaxation and relief start from the body. When we relax the body and the face, internally we can feel more relaxed and relieved.

Yes, I was feeling tense and first of all I tried to relieve and relax my own body. My shoulders were up and my face was really serious. I had also squeezed my teeth. First I relaxed myself and I suggested the students the same thing. “Soften your face, watch your shoulders. Roll your shouders back and push your shoulder blades towards your coccyx. Shoulders away from ears.”

That day we focused on “yin yoga” in order to reduce male energy and boost female energy. In my earlier posts, I had written that “yin” and “yang” were adjectives that were explaining “the duality” of life. “Yin” was the female energy and associated with “cold, winter, dark and passive” whereas “yang” was male energy and associated with “hot, light, summer and active.” Yin energy represented acceptance, surrender, let go, softening, tolerance and patience. Yang energy was “being the doer” and “active” whereas yin was “acceptance” and “being inactive and passive.” Similarly “yang” or “the male energy” was being aggressive but “yin” energy was tolerance and patience.

Unfortunately, the male energy prevails the world for centuries and therefore there are still conflicts, rows, battles, wars and terror in the world. According to yoga master Osho, the world is prevailed by male energy by 99 percent and the female energy is very limited. The only remedy is to release the female energy. Wars and terrorism cannot be prevented by demonstrations or anti-war protests because this is also a male energy.

According to the yoga master, the protestors are as aggressive as anybody and peace protests could turn into a revolt. Sooner or later buses are burnt, police are attacked by stones, police use tear gas and attack protestors by truncheons. Even for a good intention, peace cannot be ensured as male energy prevails. Osho says: “we are going to war in order to gain peace. What a conflict! We are going to war this way for centuries but we have not brought peace yet. Humanity has got into 5,000 wars in 3,000 years but it was no use because ideologies are male. (Therefore) female energy should be released. This is how balance is ensured.”

That day all these words of Osho wandered in my mind throughout the class. Do not focus on the goal, just enjoy the journey. If you focus on the goal, you become aggressive. You become greedy and male energy prevails. However if you let go with the flow, you only “be the flow yoursel”, “a state of acceptance” and “a surrender.”

And the end of class… We should equalize both energies to maintain balance. Not only bodily but also in our lives, our stance and approaches… We should give importance to female energy in the world, we should adopt female energy and try to boost female energy. More flexible, more tolerant, more acceptive, softer, more flowing, more passive, more receptive and more humane… When the female energy is boosted, violence will be less. Violence is destructive and creative energy, i.e. the energy of love, turn into a destructive energy if not used. Therefore, for better and more peaceful days in our country and the world lacking violence, we should boost female energy and become more flexible, more tolerant, more acceptive, softer, more flowing, more passive, more receptive, more creative and more humane… Not only men but also women…

 

 

I have told you in my previous posts about how the body got tense when you do not practice yoga or go to gym for some time. In such a time, your body gets tense, lose its flexibility and there is need for time and patience in order to re-gain that flexibility. After we stretched the student’s body for two classes, it was now time to make the body remember what it had forgotten in one and a half months. So how could we make the body remember what it had forgotten? I had decided long before I went to the private class that day. As in a yoga teacher training program, we would start working on the body from the feet to the top. The standing asanas, hip opening poses, core strengthening asanas, twists, backbends, inversions and balance. Like the roots, branches, leaves and flowers of a tree.

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That day, we would begin with standing asanas. Following the opening meditation, we stretched the spine and warmed the body up with “surya namaskara” (sun salutation) series. I particularly focused on grounding on “tadasana” (mountain pose). Spreading all the toes on the ground and grounding the roots of the big toe and the little toe, the inner part of the heel and the outer part of the heel equally. Feeling the energy of the element earth under the feet. Extending to the top of the head by feeling that energy under the feet. Extending to the top of the head from the tips of the toes with that energy. Closing the eyes and feeling the earth beneath the feet. Grounding.

After grounding well in “tadasana”, we added some standing asanas in-between “surya namaskara” series including “virabhadrasana I” (warrior I), “virabhadrasana II” (warrior II), “parsvakonasana” (side angle pose), “trikonasana” (triangle), “parsvottanasana” (pyramid pose), “ashwa sanchalanasana” (high lunge) and “anjaneyasana” (low lunge). We continued grounding with all these asanas.

Then we sat down and went on grounding with “dandasana” (staff pose) and “paschimottanasana” (seated forward bend). After neutralizing the body with “setu bandhasana” (bridge), we relieved the spine with “jathara parivartanasana” (abdominal twist) and let the body melt and surrender with “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose). Our aim was to feel the roots and stand strong and robust in life.

In our next class, it was time to work out the hip joint. Every class, we would go on from the foundation to the top as if we were constructing a building. Or like from the roots of a tree towards its leaves. As it was time for the hip joint, we would focus on forwardbends and hip opening poses. After preparing the body for forwardbends with some standing poses like “uttanasana” (standing forward bend), “prasarita padottanasana” (wide-legged forward bend), “ashwa sanchalanasana” and “anjaneyasana”, we stretched the hip joint more with sitting forward bends. After sitting on the ground, we stretched “hamstrings” with a”janu sirsasana” and the groins and inner thighs by bending in-between legs in “half butterfly.”

After stretching the hamstrings more with “paschimottanasana” (seated forward bend) , we opened the legs in “V” shape and focused on inner thighs and groins with “upavistha konasana” (wide-angle seated forward bend). It was time for the peak pose. There were two peak poses in that class including “kurmasana” (tortoise pose) and “hanumanasana” (monkey pose). We ended the class with “purvottanasana” (reverse plank pose), “twisted roots” and “savasana”. Our aim was to bend forward in order to be more modest, turn inside, accept and surrender and to intensify on hip openers in order to avoid negative emotions and to boost our creativity.

The next class was on core muscles. I wanted to focus on the core for a week. In one class, we would focus on upper and lower core muscles and the other class we would deal with oblique muscles. In the first class, we practiced “kapalabhati” (skull shining breath) and “nauli kriya” (abdominal cleansing method). In “kapalabhati”, the inhales were passives but exhales were active. In every exhale, we brought the diaphragm in and felt the core muscles. The first stage of “nauli” was to completely empty the lungs and tighten core muscles, i.e. “uddiyana bandha.” Our aim was to tighten the core muscles from the groins up and in upto the ribs and feel the core in every asana. We did all asanas without loosening the core muscles.

We worked the core with balance in all-fours and by “utkatasana” (chair pose), “phalakasana” (plank pose), “chaturanga dandasana” (low plank), “vasisthasana” (side plank pose) and by tightening core muscles well in “marjaryasana” (cat pose) and “adho mukha svanasana” (downward facing dog). Sitting down, we did many variations of “navasana” (boat pose) and strengthening the core more with “purvottanasana” (reverse plank pose). In the end, we laid down to feel the core more with yogic cycles and a few crunches. The aim of the class was to focus on core muscles and to be decisive and ambitious enough to end what we had started.

In our second core-focused class, we worked out twists. In-between “surya namaskara” series, we added “parivrtta uttanasana” (twist in standing forward bend), “parivritta trikonasana” (revolved triangle), “parivritta parsvakonasana” (revolved side angle pose), “parivritta ashwa sanchalanasana” (twist in high lunge), “parivrtta anjaneyasana” (twist in low lunge), “parivrtta adho mukha svanasana” (twist in adho mukha svanasana), “parivrtta ardha chandrasana” (revolved half moon pose) and “parivrtta prasarita padottanasana” (twist in wide-legged forward bend). The peak pose was “parivrtta ardha chandrasana.” We went on twisting on the ground. Before sitting down, we did “parivrtta malasana” (revolved garland pose). After sitting down, we twisted the spine with “parivrtta janu sirsasana” (revolved head-to-knee pose) and “parivrtta upavistha konasana” (revolved wide-angle seated forward bend). Lying supine, we twisted the spine more with “cat tail” and relieved the body with “savasana.” Focusing on twists, we wanted to purify, clean and calm don the body and mind.

In the next class, our focus was the chest. That day we bent backward. Bending back in “tadasana”, bendin back in “ashwa sanchalanasana”, bending back in “anjaneyasana”… In-between flows, we waited long in “bhujangasana” (cobra pose). In order to stretch and open the chest, we bent back in “virabhadrasana I” and waited longer than five breaths in “virabhadrasana II”, “parsvakonasana” and “trikonasana.” In-between flows, we used “urdhva mukha svanasana” (upward facing dog), “sphinx” and “seal”. Our peak pose was “urdhva dhanurasana” (wheel). We used “setu bandhasana” (bridge) as a preparatory pose. Our aim was to bend back that day, stretch the chest and love more and understand more not only ourselves but also those around us.

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After the chest, it was the neck’s turn. We began the class by stretching the neck to right and left, to front and back and to sides. We turned the neck in every asana throughout the class and purified the neck from all negative emotions. In the middle of the class, we stimulated the neck by “sarvangasana” (shoulderstand), “halasana” (plow pose), “karnapidasana” (ear pressure pose) and “matsyasana” (fish pose). Then we tried to change our perspective by standing upside down in “sirsasana” (headstand). We ended the class with “balasana” (child pose), twist and “savasana.” Our aim was to purify the neck from all negative emotions, to express ourselves right and to be well-understood by those around us. Also, to look from another perspective and understand every one.

After working all the body from the feet to the top, it was time to work the entire body. How could we work the entire body? Of course with balancing poses. We should now focus on the balance of the body. Warming up the body, we tried to stand on one foot and then close the eyes to stand on one foot. In the next flow, we stayed in “tadasana” and opened up one leg to 90 degrees up and tried to stay there in balance. In the next try, we did the same with eyes closed. In “vrksasana”, we waited eyes closed. We combined the balancing poses one after the other. “Vrksasana”, “garudasana” (eagle pose), “virabhadrasana III” (warrior III), “urdhva prasarita eka padasana” (standing split), “utthita hasta padangusthasana” (hand-to-big toe pose) with the leg in the front and on the side and “natarajasana” (dancer pose). After neutralizing the body came “savasana.” The aim of the class was to find the balance in yoga and in the polarities and dualities of the daily life.

As in a yoga teacher training program, strengthening and stretching the body from the tips of the toes up to the top of the head. Standing asanas, hip opening poses, core strengthening poses, twists, backbends, inversions and balance. Like the roots, branches, leaves and flowers of a tree. From the ground to the roof as if constructing a building. When the foundation is strong, it is not hard for that building to stand still on that foundation. When we build the foundation of our body is strong, it is not also hard for our body to stand strong and still on that roots.

“You were standing on your feet when you were walking. You have started to stand on your arms after you resigned and changed your life.” This was a sentence I heard from a man who I usually meet at the gym club. It was such a lovely sentence. I liked it a lot. I laughed for a minute and then I went on doing what I was doing. When I continued my yoga practice, my mind reminded this sentence to me again. At that moment, I realized this sentence was in fact explaining and defining my life.

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All through my life I have been a person who has been standing firm on feet. A quiet, hard-working, deliberate person who acts with common sense, who stands firm on feet and who never takes a step without thinking the next one. Maybe a litle bit boring person. Just think of a person whose reactions you may usually guess. Like that. My reactions were almost obvious and one could predict them. I was taking life seriously. Just want something from me. I would leave everything aside and fulfil that responsibility. Give me a duty or responsibility and do not ever think what would happen. Just be sure that I would fulfil that responsibility.
Time was money for me. I would go to the ofice before the working hours. Only the office? When I was to meet my friends, the earliest would be me. The watch was something to be checked all the time for me. “Am I late for work?” “Will my friends wait for me? Am I late for the meeting?” When there was traffic jam and when I was about to be late for work just a few minutes, I would call and let the office know about the situation.
I had principles like waking up early in the morning and going to gym club. Even I was on summer holiday, I would wake up early in the morning and walk in the neighborhood for at least one hour. I would never give up sportive activities. Even if I was tired, I would go to gym. Why? Because I had principles. Even if my body was not so willing, I would join if there was a yoga class that day. Of course, that day gym, yoga and other activities would be nothing but torture. Why? Because I had principles. I would never give up my daily routine. “I would wake up at this time.” “I would go to gym at this time.” “I would have breakfast at this time.” Have this reminded you something? Like a camp, isn’t it? Maybe this was because I had spent a lot of time with my grandma when I was a kid. My grandma was a teacher and she wanted everything to be on time and in order. When I was a child, I spent a lot of time with her and I think all these habits dated to that time of my life. Actually, it is not a bad habit but it is something that makes us a bit “boring”, “strict” and “unflexible.” Then came my office hours, duties and responsibilities. And I became a person with common sense who stands firm on feet and whose reactions are mostly obvious.
Isnt’t this person never a crazy one? Surely she was. But she would never lose control. Even when she was having fun with friends and dranked a few glasses of beverages, she would always be in control.
So what are the differences between a crazy and a flexible person? Being crazy is something about the mood and spirits. Being a child most of the time. Being fun and open to crazy and funny things. Going out to streets with a fare red curly hair. Being flexible on the other hand, is to be without any limits and acting according to situtation. Being flexible means taking a backward step when necessary. Being flexible means bending when necessary. Accepting and surrendering.
I was such a person when I was working and that person in the gym club observed and defined me well. “You were standing on your feet.” Yes, I was standing on my feet. In my yoga practice, standing asanas were the easiest. To be rooted, to stand on feet and to work balance on feet. However, arm balancing poses and inversions were impossible for me. I had to practice for three months before I could do “sirsasana” (headstand). You know “I had principles.” Everyday, I was waking earlier than usual and trying headstand. I started with five breaths. Then ten breaths, then twentyfive and in the end fifty breaths. I started with half headstand. When I could stay in the pose for 50 breaths, I could do full headstand. In addition to “sirsasana” eery day, I was meditating for at least 15 minutes. I was trying to change my mind at the same time. It was easy to change the body. When you work out for some time, you can shape up the body. The muscles learn what they should do and how to stand inr that asana. Then you can do that asana. But what about mind? Mind wants a special attention. It takes time to change the mind. First the mind has to accept. When it accepts, do not think everything is over. Now, it tries to demoralize you by reminding you the negative sides. You should not believe it and be cheated.
Since I was standing firm on my feet, many arm balancing asanas and inversions like “sirsasana”, “adho mukha vrksasana” (handstand), “pincha mayurasana” (forearm stand) and “bakasana” (crow pose) were difficult and challenging for me. Handstand was the most impossible one. I was trying half handstand just to strengthen my arms. I was standing on my hands, feet on the wall in “L” shape. This lasted for about one and a half years and I could not make any progress. Whenever I quitted the job and choose another life, my mind had changed too and then I could rise on my hands. What that man had told me in the gym club then happened. “Now you are standing on your arms.”
So what had happened when I quitted job and chose yoga as my new path? I stopped standing on my feet. I accepted support and assistance when necessary. Time? I lost my connection with time but not so much. Of course, I do not mean being late to every meeting. I am again an early-comer. But if I am late because of some reasons I cannot control, I am not feeling sorry. I inform my friends and get calm. If I am driving, I listen to calm music and enjoy the journey. I know that everything would be harder and I would be stuck more in traffic if I did not stay calm. But I know everything will be on the right track if I enjoy my time there. If I let go, everything will be on the right track.
My principles? There are no principles at all. I am still waking up early in the morning. But if not, it is not a problem unless I am late for my classes. When I wake up in the morning and I do not want to go to gym, I do not go. If I feel tired, I make tea and read a book. On summer holiday, I go on sleeping if I do not want to get up. I go on a walk if I want to. I do not do anything by force. Feeling obliged to go somewhere, feeling obliged to meet someone, feeling obliged to join a meeting. There are no more obligations in my life. I try to reduce obligations and it is good for me. I am listening to my soul talking. It also has a right to speak.
“You were standing on your feet when you were walking. You have started to stand on your arms after you resigned and changed your life.” A right evaluation. I like to stand on my arms. I like to be free and happy as if I am flying. When I am on my arms, I feel as if I have no mind. Emptiness. I am empty even if it lasts for only a second. As if I am dragged in space. They are asking me why I always want to stand on my arms. To feel that emotion again and again. The emotion of emptinees… Like a feather… Light… As if I am being dragged in space and as if I am flying.

We always like to practice challenging asanas in our yoga classes. Either in our own yoga practice or in any class we join or we teach, we mostly focus on backbends, deep twists, hip opening poses, balancing and arm balancing poses and inversions. We do no prefer forward bends. However, I like and prefer forward bends in my own practice. Yet I mostly focus on backbends, deep twists, deep hip openers, balancing and arm balancing poses and inversions in the classes I teach. Therefore, last week’s private and group yoga classes were an exception.

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Last week, I wanted to have a different experience in my classes. I do not know whether it was because of spring felt throughout the week. I wanted to make a change as we mostly practiced challenging asanas and tried the same asanas in almost every class. Last week’s peak pose would be “kurmasana” (tortoise). I had made up my mind. So, how would I prepare the bodies for “kurmasana?” I should have stretch the “hamstring” muscles as well as shoulders and hips. The shoulders had to be internally rotated and abducted and scapula should be pushed to the hips. The coccyx should be pushed backward and one should bend forward from the hip joint. And at the latest point we had reached, we should round the spine (flexion). If we assume that we would do the peak pose just in the first half of the class, I should prepare the bodies for the asana till the peak pose came. In the second half, we should do counter-poses to relax and relieve the spine and then rest.
After the opening meditation, we sat on the knees (virasana) or in “sukhasana” (easy pose) and started to stretch the shoulders. We used the arm position of “gomukhasana” (cow face pose) and we rolled the shoulders back. We then stretched the scapula with the arm position of “garudasana” (eagle pose). Then we lifted the hands to the level of the chest waited for five breaths and then bend forward with eagle hands position and stayed there for five breaths. Thus, we had opened the scapula. We laid face down and used yin yoga’s “broken wings” in order to internally rotate the shoulders and stretch the scapula more and more.
Following a “vinyasa” (flow), we stood in “tadasana” (mountain pose). We warmed the bodies up with a few “surya namaskara” (sun salutation) flows. In-between “surya namaskara” flows, we added some asanas to prepare the body for the peak pose. In one flow, we stayed long in “uttanasana” (standing forward bend) and in another flow we interlaced hands in “uttanasana” and tried to keep the arms away from the body as much as we could in order to stretch the shoulders. Moreover, we used “eagle arms” in “virabhadrasana I” (warrior I) and “virabhadrasana II” (warrior II).
In-between the flows, we added “padangusthasana” (hand to big toe pose), “pada hastasana” (hands to feet pose), “parsvottanasana” (intense side stretch pose) and “prasarita padottanasana” (wide-legged forward bend) in order to stretch the hamstrings. In “prasarita padottanasana”, we interlaced hands behind, kept the arms away from the body and continued to stretch the shoulder girdle. At the same time we were stretching the groins as well. In order to stretch groins more, we used “ashwa sanchalanasana” (high lunge), “anjaneyasana” (low lunge) and “parsvakonasana” (side angle pose).
We stretched groins more with “malasana” (garland pose) and yin yoga’s “water bug” and “half frog” poses. “Upavista konasana” was the last preparatory pose before the peak pose. After staying for five breaths in this asana, we rolled the shoulders, put the hands below the legs, rounded the spine and tried to get into “kurmasana”. Some of the students had a flexible spine but tense hamstrings. Some of them had flexible shoulders so they could easily got their shoulders and arms under their legs. Some of them had tense “hamstrings” so they bent their legs a little bit. Some with tense shoulders could not rotate their shoulders internally but just a little bit. Everybody experienced the peak pose within his/her limits. As much as his/her body allowed. Without comparing himself/herself with his/her neighbor. Only by turning inside.
Why do we always prefer challenging asanas in our yoga classes? Why do we always focus on doing, achieving and succeeding? What do forward bends teach us? Why do we love or hate forward bends? My mind was full of these thoughts when ending the class. Forward bends calm us and help us get into a meditative state. They help us turn inside and realize what is inside ourselves. Forward bends can be hard for some people due to body limitations. Because of unflexible and tense spine, hamstrings and hip muscles. Forward bends can be challenging for some others due to mental aspects. Forward bends mean acceptance. Forward bends mean surrendering. Forward bends mean staying silent and calm before others and keeping the “ego” silent. Forward bends means disciplining the self, the ego. Even though they are a group of asanas which many of us can easily practice within the limits of our bodies, forward bends can be mentally and spiritually challenging. Have you thought of this aspect of forward bends before? Why is bending forward difficult or easy for you? This was the question that we had to answer at the end of the question.

Turkey is celebrating another women’s day but in days when women are underestimated and overwhelmed. Being a woman in Turkey? Being a woman in the world? Being a woman in male-dominan societies? These were questions wandering in my mind days before March 8 International Women’s Day. I focused on reviving the female energies in our bodies in my yoga classes the previous week. We have been living in a male-dominant world for ages. I could not stop thinking “how it would be if women energy was not suppressed in the world and if we lived in a matriarchal world.”

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In the Old Age, there was an egalitarian society in which women, men and children worked together. Those days, women and men worked in same areas hand-in-hand and shoulder-to-shoulder. Women were raised as people who knew everything because they were handling everything when men were away. Girls could get equal share from the family’s weath when married.
According to Greek, Persian and Roman myths, the wife of the late ruler became the head of the society until a new ruler was elected after a ruler died. Archeologists had found out the traces of matrilineality in many excavations carried out in Eurasia. “Matrilineality” is a system in which descent is traced through the mother and maternal ancestors, i.e. from mother to grandmother and to the grand grandmother… In Eurasian societies, women who rocked the craddle joined battles when necessary.
As you can see, in old societies, woman was not only a person who gave birth to children and raised them but also a person who was standing by her spouse and had equal rights. Moreover, a woman who was giving birth to a child was a creative person. For this reason, the creator of nature, people and plants was classified as “the goddess.” When we take into consideration the statues of goddesses, we can see that the statues are emphasizing the fertility of women. The goddesses have been fertile, prolific and reproductive. They have been the guard of animals and plants and the symbol of fertility, prolificacy, marriage, reproduction and motherhood. The hips and breasts of the goddessess were stressed in sculptures as an indicator of prolifacacy. Moreover, it is not a coincidence that fertile soil is defined as the Mother Earth in many societiesb
Old Turkish societies were matriarchal. Women had equal rights with men including heritage, divorce and witness rights. Women had a right to say in the state administration. The spouse of the ruler used to have a seat beside the ruler and a right to speak as well. Women used to rule the country when necessary.
The matriarchal societies were replaced with partriarchal societies as agriculture developed and animals were domesticated. When animals were domesticated, men stopped hunting and settled down. Thus, men pushed the women to the second place at home and in the society and became the leader at home and in the society.
These are only the social reasons of transformation from matriarchal to patriarchal societies. There were also psychologic reasons of this transformation. According to yoga master Osho, men have an inferiority complex for they are not as creative as women. Osho thinks women are more creative than men because of their capability of giving birth and says that men are aware that women are superior than themselves. He also states that men tend to supress women, usurp women’s rights and push them to a second place in society in all societies in order to overcome their inferiority complex. Moreover, men do not want women to work and earn their own living, make them give birth to as many children as they can, make them stay at home and make them financially-dominant in order to keep women stay beside them.
In addition, female energy is something all societies have attached importance since the beginning of humanity. However, it has been supressed and tried to be annihilated in certain ages. Defining a woman as a “witch” during the Middle Age Europe can only be an example. I think that we should clarify something when we talk about women defined as “witches” and being killed for this reason. Splendid caps decorated in detail were a cultural way of manifestation since the old ages. According to the book titled “Warrior Women: an Archeologist’s Search for History’s Hidden Heroines”, the scenes on the walls of Kangjiashimenzi cave in China, the graves of warrior-nuns on the Altai Mountains and the northeast of Kyrgyzstan and the mummies in the Autonomos Region of Xinjiang indicated that these caps were used in the ancient times. The cone-shaped caps were made black and made a symbol of women who were accused of being a witch in Europe in the 15th centry.
As matriarchal societies were demolished and replaced with partriarchal ones, the world started to be ruled with male energy. Female energy was annihilated. Let me explain female and male energy with yoga. According to yoga belief, human body sets up of two energies. Feminine and masculine energies. Masculine energy starts from the coccyx and ends in the right nostril, whereas feminine energy also begins at the coccyx but ends in the left nostril. The male part is hot and active while the female energy is cold and passive. The male side is solar energy but the female side is lunar energy. This is how hatha yoga came out. Simply, ha means sun and tha means moon. Body is formed with the unification of these two dual energies. The aim is to balance the masculine and feminine energies, awake the divine force believed to live in the root chakra (muladhara chakra), help rise this divine force through the seven chakras, join the female and male energies in the third eye chakra (ajna chakra) and get enlighted.
When we say male energy, we mean man’s being active and restless. Male-dominant societies are aggressive and warrior. Since the birth of humanity, men hunt and they try to be strong by ignoring their emotions in order to hunt. Unfortunately, for we are living in a male-dominant world, we use this energy just to produce weapons and to fight. Because of this energy, the world is gradually getting more aggressive and cruel. If we return to yoga again, the lunar energy, i.e. tha or yin, are all feminine energies. It is passive, accepting, cool, creative, fertile, soft, compassionate and it surrenders.
What if the female energy was not supressed in the world and we lived in a woman-dominant matriarchal world? How would such a world be? No wars, full of peace and happiness, calmer and more fertile. A world in which we accepted life as it is, we
went with the flow and surrendered.
Unfortunately, men are told that “they are men” in partriarchal societies. Men have forgotten that they are getting half of their codes from their fathers and the other half from their mothers. They were told that “they were real men.” They were told, “men never cries.” All these codes were implanted in men’s minds since their childhood. Their creativity was taken from themselves. They were only taught to “do”, “achieve” and “obtain.” Female qualities were considered a shame. Their feminine qualities were erased one after the other. What were they? Showing their emotions, expressing themselves, crying, showing affection and empathy, understanding, loving and being gentle… Men stayed away from all these qualities as they were considered weakness. They became firmer and firmer each passing day. They lost their flexibility, became firmer people who only focused on the result and obtaining.
However, every woman has man characteristics and every man has female characteristics. Half of our bodies is male energy and the other half is female energy. If we want to live in a better world, we should not forget that women and men all have female and male energies. Sometimes a man should think and act like a women and the vice-versa. Sometimes a man should be flexible, express his feelings, surrender, accept and let go. He should not only be a “doer” and “active.” He should “surrender”, be “passive” and “creative” when necessary. Sometimes a woman should act like a man. Should show her anger, protect herself and rebell. If a woman always surrenders and behaves passive, then she becomes a slave of man. However, men and women are equal. They complete each other just like the night completes the day, the winter completes the summer and the darkness completes the brightness. If man is always aggressive, a doer and active, he always causes argument and war and makes the world a violent place. Therefore, men should become more “passive” when women becomes more “active.” When women becomes a bit more “doer”, a man should start “surrendering.” And women and men should share each other’s characteristics and meet on a common ground. Then the world would be a place where both feminine and masculine energies prevail, not a place where one dominates the other. Then the world will be a place where neither “surrendering” nor “aggression” dominate.

Being a woman? Bending, stretching, creating, accepting and surrendering… Moving with the flow of life… Accepting everything as it comes to you and just the same as something leaves you… Being one with the life, flowing with life.. Melting and eradicating the stiffness of masculine energy in the compassion of the feminine energy…
Awakening the female energy? March 8 International Women’s Day… Women! Let this magnificent energy flow out of you! What is my suggestion? Of course, yoga and particularly yin yoga. A yoga class or practice which awakens your second chakra, swadisthana chakra (sacral chakra). That is, a yoga practice focusing on hip openers. The second chakra, including our sexual organs, is associated with sweetness and creativeness, which is not something that can be ignored. In order to be creative, we should leave aside anger and disappointment and we should forgive ourselves if we feel guity. Sharing is related with the energy of the second chakra. Creativity intermingles us with other people.  A chakra associated with the element water. Water is soft and flexible. If we keep in mind that 50/60 percent of women’s body consists of water and this percentage is 60/65 percent in men, why shouldn’t be as soft and flexible as water? As Lao Tzu said, “The best of man is like water,  Water is good; it benefits all things and does not compete with them. It dwells in (lowly) places that all disdain.That is why it is so near to Tao… Bend and be straight; Empty and be full; Wear out and be new; Have little and gain.” Hoping that feminine energy can get the place it deserves in the world again, aggression is replaced with understanding and empathy, war is replaced with peace, and that we can accept and surrender more…

We have been used to such a rush in our daily lives that we do not know how to stop and take some time. We are even against time. We are always in a hurry. We either try to get to somewhere and therefore rush and we do not even have a single moment to realize what we are doing to ourselves. We cannot see how time flies. We look at the watch and see it’s morning and the next time we look at the watch comes the evening. What have I done all day? Am I always a “doer?” What if I stop for a while, get calm, ease my stance? Why am I always in a hurry? Have I thought about the reason? Maybe it’s just because we want to occupy our minds and just live. Just breathe and end another day no matter what…

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I have been writing about my yoga classes and my own practice for some time. You may wonder why I am writing so philosophically this time. In my last private class, my student was experiencing some health issues. If you are practicing yoga, you are used to different types of emotions and “pain.” When I say “pain”, do not think that we are torturing ourselves. The “pain” we feel in yoga is the physical tension we feel in an asana, our emotions, our mind and breath. All of them. When getting into an asana, the muscle tension we feel in a certain part of the body, the slow relaxation of that muscle when waiting in an asana, the smooth emotion, feeling, patience and serenity that we feel when relaxing and stretching. On one hand being eager to get out of the pose with the provocation of the mind, on the other hand trying to stay in the asana with the patience and serenity of our soul. This is what I mean by “pain.” Focusing on breath, accepting what we are experiencing calmly and with serenity and surrendering…

For we have been practicing together for a long time, my student got used to such “pain.” That was the first time I had seen her experiencing such a “physical pain.” As she was working before computer for long hours, she was having some health issues. As you may guess, neck and shoulder problems. That moment, I realized that we were in a “yang” (male energy) stance with this student in our classes. Continuously “the doer.” Always “vinyasa” (flow) classes. Never slowed down. Never smoothened the stance. Never assumed a “yin” (female energy) stance. Always worked on challenging asanas. Inversions and backbends. What has happened to the balance of life? Why have we been trying and trying to do and achieve something instead of accepting and surrendering? We have lost balance.

Even if we have lost balance, life was reminding the balance again and again. It was urging us to find our balance again by sending us some physical disturbances. Surely if we could see the signs. I myself experienced some physical disturbances a few months ago and remembered to assume a “yin” stance and slow down. Now it was my student’s turn. She would also “accept and surrender.”

That day we worked on stretching and strengthening the neck and shoulder girdle. First we rounded the neck to right and left and then we moved the neck forward and backward like a “turkey.” If we spend a lot of time before computers, moving the neck like a “turkey” could help. Then we turned the head to right and waited there for five breaths and then to the left. We did it for five times. The next neck strengthening exercise was to bend the neck to back and squeeze the back of the neck in an inhale and in an exhale bringing the chin to chest and stretch the back of the neck. Then we dropped the right ear to the right shoulder and stretched the left side of the neck with the help of our right hand and the vice-versa. Then we put the hands on the forehead and tried to push the head backward but at the same time tried to push it forward so that the neck would not move. The same thing for the sides of the head and the back of the head. Thus neck muscles would get stronger.

Believe me, I felt so well with these exercises. I was joining some “stretching” and “back therapy” classes of my friends but I had not realized that my neck really needed such exercises. I am used to giving verbal directives in my own yoga classes and preferred not to show off asanas but that day I joined my student when practicing the exercises and felt so good. Some “strange” noices came out of my neck and I really felt relaxed when neck exercises ended.
It seemed that I was a “doer”, so much a “doer.” I was continously exerting efforts and moving all the time. As my health disturbances were over, I stopped acting slowly and again assumed a “yang” stance. I was back to the quick life and rush.
Moreover, my student was just like me. We were mirrors to each other. She also liked a lively and quick life. Taking some time was not our kind. Therefore, our classes were always flow classes. Also, we are used to such active classes that the class focusing on neck and shoulder did not please us. You know that it was not so easy to change the mind and please it. We were thinking how we could turn the class into “yang” style. First we need to convince the mind: “Today we have decided on a calm class focusing on neck and shoulder and we know that a slow class could also be enjoying. Just a little bit patience and serenity. Wait and see what the class brings.”
After relieving the neck, it was time to work on the shoulder. We only used the arm positions of “garudasana” (eagle) and “gomukhasana” and relieved and relaxed shoulder blades and shoulder girdle. When inhaling we brough the shoulders towards the ears and when exhaling we dropped them. We put the hands on the shoulders and rolled the shoulders. With “broken wings” we stretched the shoulders and stretched the shoulder blades. We sat in “sukhasana” (easy pose) and we extended the hands in front of us. In an inhale we extended the arms forward as much as we could and in an exhale we rolled the shoulders back and pushed the shoulder blades towards the hips.
Before “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose), we got the wall and leaned the back of the head, shoulders, upper back and hips to the wall. The palms were turned to the wall. When pushing the palls to the wall, we tried to keep the body towards the wall instead of letting in go forward. Two-way pressure.
My closing words were not targeting the student but myself. I was thinking out loud and trying to convince my own mind: “We are in such a rush in our daily lives that we do not consider whether we have lost the balance among our mind, body and soul. Why are we in such a hurry and rush? Why are we hurrying all the time? Why can’t we get calm? Why can’t we slow down? Even this exact moment has passed. Do we really seize the moment? Could I spend some time with the dog or the cat I saw this morning before getting in my car or did I just get in the car and try to get somewhere on time? How could spending a few moments with a cat or a dog withhold me? What could I use? Anyway, I could lose nothing. I could just seize the moment. If I did not seize the moment, if time flew and if today became history, I would just regret looking back. I would have lots of regrets and a lot of time to use sentences starting with ‘if only.’ However, if I seized the moment and lived this way, the past would just be ‘the past’ and ‘history.’ As Roman poet Ovid says, “take rest: A field that has rested gives bountiful crop.”

If you are following my posts for some time, you should know that I have not been self-practicing yoga for some time due to my injuries. I used to practice “yin yoga” in order to stretch the deep connective tissues of my body after a hard cardiovascular and dumbell workout and liked to ensure a bodily and mental relief by staying in each asana for a few minutes. Unfortunataley, I had to quit “yin yoga” for about three months due to the pain that began in my groins and spread towards the external part of my hips and to my lower back. I went on teaching prenatal yoga and other group and private classes and was just giving verbal directives in classes instead of showing the flow by myself. I was not showing off any asanas. I continued with my treadmill workout as well as the dumbell workout and joined some group classes at the gym club. But I was very careful and controlled in my own workout.

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The reason of my injury was falling down the stairs. The doctor told me that I could totally recover in six months and recommended that I should take it easy. During that time, I could go on with my treadmill workout but I should be careful when stretching my body. Therefore, I only joined group “stretching” and “back therapy” classes in order to stretch my body. Besides these classes, I joined “full body” and “pilates” classes to strengthen my body and core muscles. My health issues were diminishing each passing day.

Three months after I had consulted the doctor, I sat on my yoga mat for the first time. I started to listen to my favorite music on my MP3 player. I was ready for my “yin yoga” practice. I used to stay five-six minutes in each asana before my injury. But unfortunately the body was regressing once you stopped exercising. My body had lost its flexibility within this time and I would start with two-three minutes in my first yoga practice after a long time.

I first began with stretching the spine with “butterfly” pose. The closer my feet were to my groins, the more would I feel my groins; the far my feet to my groins, the more I would feel the stretch in my spine. As I was still having some pain in my groins, I kept my feet away from my groins and focused on stretching my spine. Two minutes later, I brought my feet closer to my groins and stretched my gorins for only one minute. After this pose, I neutralized my body with a twist. Bending forward over and over again was no good for me. I felt it during my injury process. Therefore, I wanted to practice one forward bend and then a backbend in my first yoga practice in three months.

Now it was time to backbend the spine with “half saddle.” This pose would stretch my quadriceps muscles at the same time. I stayed in the pose for three minutes for each leg.
During the practice, I felt as if this body was not the body I used to have three months ago which was so flexible, which could flow from one asana to the other and which was not feeling any pain or tension. Has three months turned my body something like this? Have I become so “unflexible” in three months? Every part of my body was aching. Every muscle was talking to me. I was feeling as if I had not practiced yoga for years. I was feeling that this was the first time I was stretching my body. Every part of my body was tense.
I would bend forward for one more time with “caterpillar” in order to stretch hamstring muscles. My spine would stretch as well. After staying in this pose for three minutes, I got into “dhanurasana” and stayed for five breath to bend my spine backward.
It was the “sleeping swan” I chose to stretch hip external rotator muscles and to bend the spine forward. I stayed for three minutes in each leg. Every inch of my hip was aching and tense. Actually, my hips were stretching and opening more and more. On one side a different kind of pain on the other side joy.
After bending the spine backward and opening the chest up with “sphinx” pose, I stayed in “dragonfly” for three minutes. Thus, I not only bended forward but also focused on my inner thighs. Before the injury, I used to stay for seven-eight minutes in “dragonfly” but felt no pain. It was as if I was standing up. Time was flying in that pose and I was feeling joy. I could even get surprised to see how long I stayed in “dragonfly” when I looked at the watch. Eight minutes were as if one-two minutes for me.
After three months of interval, when I opened my legs in “V” shape and bent forward, I started to feel the inner thighs from the groins towards down the knees. When I bent forward, I realized how tense my muscles were. In a few minutes, I saw that the tension diminished but not totally disappeared. The slow motion of muscles, slow surrender of muscles. Softening of muscles. But not the same as months ago. Still intense emotions and tension. After three minutes, twist to right and left in “dragonfly”. Leaning backward to open my chest up and reaching my feet with my hand. Taking my head in-between my arms and extending the other arm towards my feet beside my ear. And that moment… Reaching the feet with both hands. A deep twist I have not practiced for months. A great happiness. My emotions were twisting when my body was twisting. Tears in my eyes and gratitude. After neutralizing my spine with “jathara parivartanasana” (abdominal twist) came “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose).
This was my first yoga practice in three months. I stayed only three minutes in asanas which I used to stay for seven-eight minutes before the injury. My body was tense, my muscles were tense and were talking to me all the time. I felt every part of my body, one by one as if I had not practiced yoga before and as if I had not stretched my body before. I felt the slow pace of stretch. The relaxation. Felt the tension in the target area when relaxing. And then the tension went away gradually. The body got into the pose and surrendered. Not only my body but also my mind remembered the “yin” style. Getting used to letting go and surrendering. Just letting go. Change of stance. Not only my body but also my mind had changed in three months. My stance had changed. Easing and softening my stance with “yin yoga.” This was what I had to learn and get used to again and again…

“Mrs. Yircali, we have practiced asanas and flow yoga in our classes so far. I have been trying meditation on my own for some time but I do not know whether I can do it or not. Can we try meditation in our next class?” Why not?

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When I arrived at the gym club that day, I forgot that we would focus on meditation and therefore I was planning a very different class. The student who wanted to try meditation showed up and said, “Mrs. Yircali we will try meditation today, won’t we?” Of my God, I have totally forgotten. I had promised to try meditation and “trataka kriya” (cleansing technique) in that class. We needed a candle and a lighter for “trataka kriya” and I had not brought a candle and a lighter for I had totally forgotten about my promise. For a minute, I thought what I could do. We could focus on another object instead of a candle. I could put my water bottle in the middle of the class and we could try “trataka kriya” that way. Yes, this was the best solution.
At that moment, another student told me that her house was so close to the gym club and she could rush home and brought a candle and a lighter as the class would begin in 15 minutes. That was really good news.
I decided to focus on “ajna” (third eye) chakra since we would try meditation that day. I told the class that we would focus on the third eye chakra and use “drishti” (gaze) in all asanas. I informed them about the “drishti” points when we would get out of one pose and get into another. My aim was to focus the mind on a single point and prepare the mind for meditation.
The “drishti” points were the tip of the nose, the hands, the navel, the toes, between the eyebrows and the right and left shoulder in twists.
When warming the bodies up with “surya namaskara” (sun salutation) series, we brought the awareness on “drishti” points. When inhaling, we interlaced the palms and lift the arms upward, looking at the hands. When exhaling, we kept the gaze at our hands and bent forward and then turned the gaze to our toes. In the next inhale, we opened half-way and looked between the eybrows and in the next exhale, we got into plank pose still gazing at the point between the eyebrows. Gaze was still between the eyebrows in “ashtangasana” (knee-chest-chin) and “urdhva mukha svanasana” (upward facing dog) and it turned to the navel in “adho mukha svanasana” (downward facing dog). When we walked to the front of the mat in the next inhale, the gaze was between the eyebrows and in the next exhale, the gaze was at the toes. In the last inhale, the palms were joined together and the gaze was at the hands till we totally stood up. We tried to keep the mind on a certain focal point without losing the gaze. Tried to calm the mind down and focus it on a single point.
Then came standing asanas including “trikosana” (triangle), “ardha salamba sirsasana” (dolphin pose), “anjaneyasaan” (low lunge), “parsvakonasana” (side angle pose) and “virabhadrasana II” (warrior II). We tried to increase our concentration by focusing on the gaze in all these asanas.
It was time for some sitting poses including “dandasana” (staff pose), “janu sirsasana” (head to knee pose), “paschimottanasana” (sitting forward bend), “bharadvajrasana” (Sage Bharadvaja twist) and we inverted the bodies with “salamba sirsasana” (headstand), “salamba sarvangasana” (shoulderstand), “halasana” (plow pose), “karnapidasana” (ear pressure pose), “matsyasana” (fish pose) and “setu bandhasana” (bridge pose). We balanced the energy with a twist.
Now, we were ready for “trataka kriya” and meditation. Literally, “trataka” means to look and watch whereas “kriya” means act of cleansing. In this cleansing method, we were focusing the eyes on a symbol, candle or an object and try to keep them open until the eyes get wet. We would blink the eyes for a while when they got wet and then went on with the cleansing method.
We made a circle for “trataka kriya” and meditation. I walked to the back of the class and started to guide the students. We first looked at the entire candle and then to the flame. We looked at the colors of the flame and watched the flames growing and shrinking. We tried to keep the eyes open as much as possible and without blinking for a while. Then the eyes got wet and we blinked them. Then we gazed at a wider angle. Then a narrower angle. Then we closed the eyes and tried to see the candle with eyes closed. “To see eyes closed.” “Trataka kriya” lasted for fifteen minutes.
After “trataka kriya”, we practiced “nadi shodhana pranayama” (energy channel cleaning breathing technique). The aim was to balance the male and female energies in “ajna” (third eye) chakra and help one be and fell one in universe.
Then we got into meditation with eyes closed. I advised the students to focus on their breath. Try to stay in the present time by counting the breath. “The mind always talks. It jumps from one thought to another. It never stops. It never calms down. Our aim is to calm the mind down. One of the best way to keep the mind silent is to close the eyes. We are doing it right now. We should feel comfortable when meditating. If sitting in a cross-legged position and keeping the back straight is hard for you, then lean somewhere. If a cross-legged position is hard for you, then extend your legs. Do not forget! The most important thing in meditation is to feel your body comfortable. When the body is comfortable and relaxed, the mind will feel relaxed. So find the best sitting pose for yourself. If your leg gets numb and if your body is telling it to you, this is good. This means that the mind is here at the present time. If you see that your mind is wandering and goes after some thoughts, then try to bring the mind back to the present time and to the class. How? Focus on your breath. Count your inhales and exhales. Watch your breath. Like I inhaled one, exhaled one. Thoughts come and go. You only watch. Do not comment on them. When you do not comment and go after your thoughts, you will see that you are thoughtless for only a while at first. Only for a moment. Calm and thoughtless. Then in time, this moment of thoughtlessness will prolong. Two seconds, three seconds, one minute, three minutes, five minutes… Our aim is to extend this moment of thoughtlessness in time.”
Then I stopped talking and left the students alone with their own experience. After ten minutes, it was time for “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose). “Keeping the eyes closed, slowly get into deep relaxation pose. Let your body melt in the ground. Surrender your body to the energy of earth. Relax completely. Remember that your body is just a cover. Watch your breath. Be in harmony with your breath and let your body melt in the ground. Leave your body to the ground.”
How would I end this class? Our conscious lived in the third eye chakra. Our eyes could only see the past and present but we could foresee thanks to our third eye. Our intuition, perception and foresight could be stronger thanks to the third eye. “To see eyes closed.” This was the main idea of the class for me. Could we understand others? Could we develop empathy? Could we see the things around us with eyes closed?

I decided to stretch and relieve my body with yin yoga after a long cardiovascular workout last week. I have been practicing ying yoga for at least one and a half hours three times a week for two years. If you ask me what yin yoga is, I can tell you that it is stretching your body up to your connective tissues by waiting at least two minutes in an asana. When you do not tighten your muscles and let them free, you can stretch yourself till your deep connective tissues and you can observe incredible bodily changes in time. The same thing happened to me. My body has stretched more and more day by day and it was not enough for me to stay in an asana for three minutes like I did when I first started yin yoga. Three minutes became five minutes, five minutes seven minutes and seven minutes ten minutes. And then came last week.

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I sat in my yoga mat after one-hour cardiovascular workout and half-hour dumbell workout. I wanted to start with “half butterfly” and bend my spine forward. My aim was to turn inside and get calmer after this much yang workout. I listened to my favorite melodies as usual. That was wonderful. I let myself out. I got into the pose as much as my body let me to. I accepted that stage of my body and did not compare it with the previous day or days before. Maybe I could bend my spine forward more and more a day before but I might be staying above that point. No problem. I surrendered my body and I let my body get into the pose slowly and slowly. I was totally on my leg sometime later. The melodies let me turning inside more and more.  I did not know how long it took. I opened my mind and looked at the watch. And what I saw? I was in the same position for ten minutes. I got out of the pose slowly. Since “half butterfly” was an asymmetric pose, I should also stay in the other side for ten minutes. I was more cautious this time. I was glancing at my watch. After ten minutes were over, I had flexed my spine, bent my body forward, surrendered and turned inside.
It was now time for a backbend. I should turn outside by bending backward and getting into a spinal extension. After twenty minutes of a forward bend, I was feeling nerveless. I should wake myself up. I decided on “half saddle.” I chose this asana for also physical reasons. After one-hour walk, I had to stretch quadriceps muscles. It was also an asymmetric pose. I would stay five minutes on the right and left side. Since my spine would bend backward and I would feel the pose in my lower back, I decided to stay only five minutes. I closed my eyes. The lights above were disturbing me so I put a towel on my face. Melodies in my ears, my eyes closed. I silenced my senses. It was a bit extravert asana but I managed to turn inside. I did not know how long I stayed there. I was so relaxed. Do not think that I was sleeping. I wasn’t. Like “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose) My senses silent, my mind silent and my body relaxed. I was hangingo out. I could not believe my eyes when I looked at my watched after I took the towel off my eyes. I was staying in “half saddle” for ten minutes. Since it was also an asymmetric pose, I waited in the other side for ten minutes too.
The other asanas I practiced that day were “dragonfly”, “frog”, “sleeping swan”, “square”, “melting heart”, “sphinx”, “seal”, “sarvangasana”, “halasana”, “karnapidasana”, “setu bandhasana” and “cat tail.”
That day, my practice lasted for two hours because I stayed longer than usual in all poses. I was so peaceful that I relaxed more and more in “savasana” and I surrendered my body. My body was so heavy that I thought it did no more belong to me. After a long and deep resting and relaxation pose, I ended my practice. Everything was so nice until next morning.
Next morning, I woke up with a pain in my groin. Yes, you guess. I hurt my “iliopsoas”, a muscle between upper and lower bodies, just because I overstretched myself. That is, relaxing in “half saddle” and passing out was no good to me.
How did this injury affect me? Since this muscle is located between the lower and upper body, it was even difficult for me to walk. Taking steps, working my core muscles, lifting my legs up to 90 degrees, climbing the stairs… All were hard for me since we use this muscle in all these things. My daily life was limited.
What should one do in such a situation? Stop, rest and wait until recovery. Do you think I did that? Unfortunately no. I went on with my daily cardiovascular workout, yoga classes and own practice. But I stopped doing backbends. I did not want to stretch and hurt this muscle more and therefore I stayed away from poses that stretch the muscles in front of my leg. Even this was a huge step for me.
What was the lesson? Or would I listen if I drew a lesson from this experience? I am doubtful. But what was the lesson? During my yin yoga teacher training program, our teacher said something: “Yin yoga is associated with mothers’ love, affection and compassion. Now observe yourself when staying in this pose. How do you behave your body? Do you behave as a mother with compassion or do you behave it cruelly? Do you behave your body with compassion, affection, love and ease as if a mother does to her kid or do you push yourself hard as a warrior? Do you continue to stay in the pose with pain if your feet hurt because you are a warrior or do you put a blanket under your feet and ease the pain like an compassionate mother. Which one?” I know who I am. What about you?