Yin yoga offers us an opportunity to feel what is asking to be felt, and in doing so, to release uncomfortable and difficult feelings, which are often expressed as stress and tension that is held in the body. It does so through the emphasis on mindfulness, and stillness in the long hold poses of the practice, through cultivating presence with all that arises in the present moment as we rest in the poses.
By staying still, we physically stay present with what is, both in the present moment and in our bodies (physically and emotionally), and by staying present with the things that make us uncomfortable (not turning away) we are allowing them to be seen and acknowledged. In doing so, we enable ourselves to move beyond the reactive reflex to ignore them, feel shame about them, and bury them deeper.
The emphasis on mindfulness allows energy in the body to move, to flow. Here, it is important to have awareness of the thinking mind, and the role it plays in the experience of uncomfortable feelings. When uncomfortable feelings arise the thinking mind attaches a story or narrative to them: “I’m feeling this way because of x” (often, x is familiar, well-worn territory, the recurrent story about e.g. how we are not enough or how the world is unkind/unfair). When the x narrative is attached to the feelings it starts to create a loop – the narrative triggers more uncomfortable feelings, which then feedback into and strengthen the narrative. The loop goes round and round and leads nowhere. The uncomfortable feelings and associated pain have nowhere to go and stay within.