I don’t watch a lot of TV, but on the recommendation of some friends, I began watching Cobra Kai. Since I have the attention span of a baby squirrel, I rarely binge Netflix, so it’s a testament to the quality of the show that I completed all of Season 1 over the weekend.
For those who don’t know, Cobra Kai answers burning questions about what happened to Daniel and Johnny after the events of the Karate Kid trilogy. Things have gone better for Daniel than Johnny, but neither man is thriving. Neither of them have processed the trauma of their youth, which means they are both still obsessed with events 36 years in the past. From Daniel’s cartoonish karate commercials for his car dealership, to Johnny’s archaic technology, 1984 is realer to them than the present.
I would love to devote an entire blog to Cobra Kai, but I know you are all here for yoga and meditation. So, why did I devote an entire class and now this blog to a Netflix show?
Because, while Johnny and Daniel are extreme cases, we are all guilty of holding on to moments from the past. Ruminating on an occasional happy (or even sad) memory is okay, but if we become too embedded in the past, we are not living fully in the present moment - the only reality we have. Thus, it is important to process past trauma and then let it go.
This is why I love practicing yin. It gives us the opportunity to practice letting go… of physical tension and thoughts that no longer serve us. I’ve written about the benefits of Yin in a previous blog, but in brief, you hold poses for 3 to 5 minutes to apply appropriate tension to ligaments, tissues, and joints. This builds strength in these vital parts of your body.
Since you’re holding poses for a long period of time, your mind will not be happy. Our brains are accustomed to constant stimulation, and when we’re not providing that, the mind will entertain itself. Additionally, if a pose is challenging, you may experience aversion, which is when your mind will busily chatter because it does not want to focus on the physical discomfort in the body.
In Yin, I remind students to let go of thoughts as they arise and return to the sensations in their bodies, or, if that’s too intense, to their breath. In this way, we can practice letting go of thoughts on the mat, which makes it easier to let go of those obsessive thoughts off the mat.
When you can let go of the thinking mind, of that part of your bring that obsessively replays past embarrassments, you can be happier in the present. I still have hope that Daniel and Johnny will figure this out.