On a recent trip to attend my daughter’s graduation from the Yoga Shanti yoga teacher training, I had the privilege of taking a three-hour yoga intensive with the inimitable Rodney Yee. The theme of the session was the importance of keeping your groins soft and relaxed. (The groin is the part of the body where the leg meets the trunk.) He began the class by having us sit on a cushion or bolster with our fingers in our groins to see how soft and relaxed we could make them. Yee then gave a most practical discourse on the fact that we all have a great deal of tension in our lives these days and that we need a way to release that tension, a way to drain it out of the body. The groins are the drain. Take a moment right now. Whatever you are doing, just soften your groins and then notice what happens. Your whole body will relax. I was astounded by how effective this is.
Rodney talked about changing the water in the vase of flowers on the altar behind him in the studio, noting how stagnant and contaminated it gets within four days. Given that our bodies are 75 percent water, it’s the same with us. We too need to keep the water in our bodies circulating and draining—and soft groins are the way to do this. For the rest of the class, regardless of the yoga pose we were getting into, Yee reminded us to move in such a way that the groins stayed soft, without tension. This is not easy, but it is an amazing meditation. When you are able to move with soft groins—which I have since practice in Pilates and even taking a walk—your ease of movement is astounding.
Rodney also reiterated something that has helped me embrace the essence of yoga. It’s NOT about forcing your body into perfect yoga poses. It’s about easefully and mindfully allowing your body to go toward the pose. Yee quotes the famous Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh who says, “We will always be going, but never arriving,” meaning that yoga (and life) is about continual movement toward perfection but not getting stuck there. Always fluid; always moving. Simple. Not easy, but, oh so effective.
I’ve added “soft groins” to my list of affirmations, in the margins of my journal, and on some sticky notes placed strategically to help me remember. Try it. Your body will breathe a sigh of relief.