Dawn Yager & Finding the Edge
“Most of my teachings come in the form of suffering.” Her voice is bright and cheery when she states this, making me do a double take. It’s almost as if she is giving people a chance to walk out while they still can, no one does, so she laughs and continues, “It’s a fun time!.” And she’s right, it truly is because this kind of suffering is given to you. It is not out of your control. She says, “When the suffering is given to you in this way (her teachings), you have better tools to manage it. You don’t have to run to the mall or happy hour or whatever other things you lean on to self medicate with.” In a world full of suffering and unhappiness, this is vital. Finding a healthy way to expand one’s happiness mode is a gift that Yin Yoga and Dawn gave me.
This Saturday, the Temple hosted a workshop on Yin Yoga and Chakra Meditations held by the illuminating Dawn Yager. Workshops are held at the Temple two or more times a month. Workshops allow the Temple to bring in guest artists and teachers both locally and from across the country. Most instructors we bring in are in fact, graduates from our Yoga Teaching Training Program, Meditation Teacher Training, Seminary Training or those who have felt the impact of the Temple in their own life. Dawn Yager is both. She is also ordained Swami Ambikananda.
She is vibrant and genuine. Often times even jocular in her teachings. At one point after her introduction, she begins to instruct on the first pose and is stopped by a student with a question. The student seems hesitant to ask, but Dawn assures her that there is “open conversation with me always.” To others this anecdote may seem inconsequential. However, reflecting back, this continues to be a pivotal moment of the workshop for me-and it’s at the very beginning. This one line from Dawn exemplifies the kind of teacher she is and why I found her workshop to be so refreshing and invigorating. A lot of times people come to a yoga class or a workshop as a way to escape the daily grind. They want a place they can come and forget about their jobs, their relationships, the bills, politics, etc. But Dawn utilizes these aspects to her advantage, instead of spending two hours of your life trying to escape, you are using these two hours to learn how to enrich your life and transform your mind. Everything Dawn teaches is applicable to the real world and learning how to thrive in it.
Dawn makes everything extremely personable and easy to relate to. She doesn’t hold herself above her students, she is always at your level. She acknowledges life outside of the workshop and that is powerful. “I make lists and cross things off… I’m very tight and that shows up in the tissues of your body.” This is something I think people can relate to. We seek control in life through planning and lists, and to hear that bodies then physicalize that tension makes sense. We have all in a way, created our own pain to cope with the externals of the world. She continues to explain how she sets up a yin asana but doesn’t give just one way. “It’s okay to explore, you can’t do it wrong.” An asana is the physical practice of a yoga pose. Yin Asana is a posture in which a practitioner sits for a long period of time.
In this workshop, Dawn works mostly with the connective tissue, where she states that when you engage the muscle you can’t really access the tissue, it’s one or the other. Dawn believes that Yin Yoga is a great precursor to meditation. “I think it’s super tough to sit and meditate because really what we do is sit and think about all of our junk for twenty minutes. And then we feel guilty about not vacuuming or spending time with someone. We think we’re wasting our time.” Yin is concentration, it’s one physical pose you can focus on.” There is no room for life’s many distractions to get in the way. Yin is a style that is mostly in the spine and in the hips and has a strong focus on “finding the edge”, where you sit in a pose and breathe in it for a longer, designated amount of time. For those that are not flexible, this can be quite uncomfortable and strange. However, Dawn encourages you to sit and breathe in the pose and access the uncomfortable moments in a safe way. She says that a majority of the time the edge will move, and that you should try and move with it, allow yourself to go deeper. I see this as a metaphor for life. Dawn says “I have people in my life who have so many restrictions on what creates happiness, and if that’s the way you live, well, you’re going to be unhappy a lot.” What if finding your edge through Yin allows you to break these restrictions? Why must people live with such strict boundaries? These same boundaries keep us from reaching our full potential, our true happiness. We are met with so much resistance in life, both from ourselves and from others. We push to fight against, instead of trying to go along with. Through Dawn’s workshop, I learned that Yin is all about listening to your body. Going to your first edge and when or if the body opens and invites you in deeper, learning how to accept the invitation. But it’s not just listening to your body. There are edges in every aspect of life. Emotional, psychological, spiritual. Dawn’s workshop was a wonderful dip into the ocean that is Yin Yoga and I am beyond grateful to have been able to learn from her. Dawn will be back at the Temple of Kriya Yoga. You don’t want to miss out on her amazing workshops!