If I had to describe Biff in one word, that word would be love. Love was all I could feel when I first met him. Just love. Love that is unconditional and accepts you completely, just as you are. Biff keeps reminding me that such love exists. I am infinitely grateful to share this interview with him.
Biff Mithoefer about Yin Yoga and Acceptance
How are acceptance and yin yoga related?
We live in cultures that are constantly measuring and assessing us. Are we good enough? Are we smart, tall, beautiful, wealthy etc ... enough? We understand that the body is paying attention to every message that it’s receiving. If we strive in our lives or our practice to be different, to be “better” every cell of our body hears that story of how it’s not good enough. This causes both physical and emotional stress, and seems to actually alter the bodies cell structures, as we’ve seen in the effect negativity has on simple water molecules. When we bring a different attitude, that of acceptance and compassion into our practice, our body responds in a very different way. By simply bringing an attitude of self acceptance to our practice, we begin to actually accept ourselves, and this, I believe, is the first and most important step on our path to peace and healing.
What can yin yoga give us for everyday life?
The practice of unconditional acceptance, both of ones self and of our unfolding lives is the basis of equanimity. Equanimity means that everything in our life is in balance, that we have all that we need. It brings us a feeling of peace and from that place, compassion and loving kindness towards others and ourselves can grow. Equanimity brings gratitude and deep joy. For me, this is the greatest gift yin can give us.
Why is storytelling in connection with yin yoga so powerful?
Storytelling is important in our life for a number of reasons, one of which is that it helps us to listen more deeply to the stories that are present in our lives and our relationships. The understanding of story and our ability to hear story helps us listen to the stories of both healing and trauma that our bodies carry as a result of our own experiences. The quiet atmosphere and the attitude of acceptance present in the practice of yin yoga gives us an opportunity to really listen to these stories. When we bring the body into postures that open the joints and bring attention to the connective tissue we gently invite the body to open and share the often long held stories of trauma. As we bring light and acceptance to these stories, our path of healing begins.
Is there a way to stop creating new stories, that do not serve us?
Perhaps there isn’t a way to stop creating stories in our loves, that’s the nature of the cosmos, but it is possible to learn to let all the stories serve us in their own way. When we can listen carefully to these stories that seem not to serve us, we can begin to hear the healing within the story. It’s in this deep listening that we begin to feel the trauma and suffering that lies at the surface of the difficult stories begin to gently transform to gratitude as we see the healing that lives in the deep truth of each story.
What do you want to remind people of?
The usefulness of any practice isn’t to help ourselves, but only to prepare us to better serve the world.
What is the essence of yin yoga?
For me, the essence of yin yoga lies at the heart of the Yin archetype, the archetype of the mother herself. The mother represents unconditional love and acceptance, and that is the gift and invitation that yin yoga offers us.
About Biff Mithoefer biffmithoeferyoga.com
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