The Yin, The Yang, & The Yoga

As the temperatures continue to drop and fluctuate- the coolness, or frigidity, of this time of the year, matched with all the lunar activity. I notice the flow of Yin into Yang -natures active and passive method of balancing the world around and within us.  Balancing is not a static act, like trying to balance a pencil on your finger. The efforts of Yin and Yang are always active in our lives, but when there is an excess of Yang- we can only be yang-life for so long- Yang becomes Yin. There needs to be balance in all things.

  Yin and Yang are relative terms: they describe two principles of existence. Yin is feminine, negative, and dark and yang is masculine, positive, and bright. They cannot exist without each other “Yin cannot exist without yang, nor yang without yin. However, they are not static, so what is yin and what is yang are always changing.

Our ever-changing lifestyles are a perfect place to begin noticing yin and yang. After a long busy day(week) or after lots of travel- yang, you seek rest, relaxation stillness- yin. Our yoga practices are most commonly yang classes hot, active, long muscle holds -yang but we always take savanna at the end, or even a yin yoga practice cool, passive, deep holds –yin.

On a personal level, focusing only on the positives -yang limits you from learning from the negatives-yin and we cannot be yang-like for so long before crashing to seek out a balance. Even if you’ve been in the house all day, after a certain point you are ready to bust out and be busy!

“We seek balance only when the universe forces us to pay attention when we suffer the breakdown that avoiding our dark (yin) side creates. Only then do we seek help to regain balance.” - Bernie Clark

Ask yourself: What can I incorporate to add more balance in my life before crashing (too much yang) or before stagnating (too much yin )?

 This cool, shadowy, highly yin period encourages us to yield. Requiring us to slow down and make the time to observe what is going on within the body, and the mind. Yin inspires us to be soft with ourselves and to use our intuition to listen, seek our own answers, and acknowledge what no longer serves us or, what we need to embrace.

The sincere subtlety of yin asks of us, to listen deeply to our own needs and move accordingly. In my opinion, we are being encouraged to reflect on the questions we don’t want to ask ourselves and meet them with compassion without judgment. We are being urged to explore and better understand ourselves, so that we can craft our own flow, instead of going with someone else’s flow.

The yin moon energy renews us and provides a clean slate, perfect for leaning into your intuition because deep down you already know what you want and need. Another, way to incorporate more yin, more balance, and more harmony, into your life and body is by exploring a Yin Yoga Practice.

What is Yin Yoga?

"Yin yoga is simple, but simple does not mean easy."- Bernie Clark

I recently had the opportunity to attend a Yin Yoga Teacher Training. I will share some key points to deepen the understanding of Yin, Yang, and Yoga.

First things first, Yin Yoga is NOT restorative yoga. In a restorative practice, we completely rest and relax. In Yin Yoga, poses can be held anywhere between one to twenty minutes ( not in my classes, unless it's savasana!) targeting the connective tissues.

  • Over 5,000 years ago Chinese sages proposed the concept of Yin and Yang as a theoretical method for observing and analyzing the phenomena of our world. Both are manifestations of vital life force, energy - Chi.

  • Yin yoga is the "other half". Common yoga practices are active, dynamic, and focus on the muscular half of the body - The Yang.

  • Yin yoga works the deeper connective tissues, ligaments, fascia, joints, and bones. In yin classes, you are mostly sitting or laying down

  • Yin is yielding, allowing, and nourishing. Helping us focus on mindfulness, acceptance, and stillness.

* Practicing only yin or only yang is half of the practice. Practicing both yin and yang poses balance each other and allows for a full body experience.

  • Regardless of how busy life may seem, we can always adopt a Yin awareness and acceptance that will help gain contentment in our lives.


Yin is the back side more deeply hidden, like the shady side of a mountain.  Yang is the white side, the brighter more obvious parts of reality, the sunny side.  The S shape is the eternal coexistence of the two essences like two rivers constantly meeting- one side constantly changing and becoming the other. Yin has the seed of Yang. Yang has the seed of Yin.

Yin is the back side more deeply hidden, like the shady side of a mountain.

Yang is the white side, the brighter more obvious parts of reality, the sunny side.

The S shape is the eternal coexistence of the two essences like two rivers constantly meeting- one side constantly changing and becoming the other. Yin has the seed of Yang. Yang has the seed of Yin.

Yang Qualities

Masculine

Hot

Light/ Day

Physical Body

Heaven/Sun

Active/Fast

Logical

Spring & Summer

 

Yin Qualities

Feminine

Cold

Dark/ Night

internal energy

Passive/ slow

Earth/ Moon

Intuitive

Fall & Winter


These qualities are both in you and nature! An excess of either calls for a shift to rebalance. One cannot exist without the other! "Yin creates Yang and Yang actives Yin."

Benefits of Yin Yoga

Revitalizes tissues

Improves flexibility

Increases circulation

Balances the internal organs and improves the flow of prana

Calms and balances the mind-body

Reduces stress and anxiety

Increases self-acceptance & self-compassion

Cultivates gratitude of the body

Prompts us to slow down and be still

In a yin yoga practice, you typically hold poses and are supported for 1- 6 minutes. While in the pose you are not pulling or flexing, but sitting or laying as the lengthening and strengthening of the deeper tissues happens passively. For example, holding pigeon pose, but in Yin Yoga, it is 'Swan' for 3 minutes on each side then slowly transition to the next pose.

Yin yoga is the perfect compliment to other styles of yoga and life. The long holds, the meditative atmosphere, and uncomfortableness that may arise in the body or mind, then meet with the breath inspiring  a  stillness that allows you to accept and be. This practice really helps us listen and pay attention to what is happening in our world. With this practice, we can begin to feel more open, more accepting, and more grateful towards yourself and others. You will uncover the deep transformative nature of Yin that can only be accessed through cultivating a Yin/ Yang consciousness and trying a Yin class.  Yin has helped me feel more connected to all parts of myself. I hope that for all people. 


Felicia taliaferro