“Balance requires consciously honouring both the yin and yang energies of life. Yang is about change, movement, passion, climbing great heights, and accomplishing great deeds. Yin is about acceptance, allowing, stillness, enjoying the present moment and doing small everyday tasks as if they were great deeds.” – Bernie Clark
Yin meaning moon or shade in Mandarin shows us the opposite to Yang, meaning sun or light in Mandarin. In the Chinese philosophy Taosim the Yin & Yang symbol explains how opposite forces can be complimentary, how one even needs the other and cannot be without the opposite which is demonstrated by the white and black dots within the opposite force.
Yin the moon or shade is also associated with female energy, with dark, cold, hidden, still, calm, slow. And Yang the sun and light is therefore associated with the opposite, the male energy, with hot, exposed, moving, fast, excited. Although they are complete opposites, there is always Yin in the Yang and vice versa.
If we apply those principles now to Yoga we can conclude that the body, mind and soul also need both – Yin and Yang. Today we mostly know Yang Yoga practices such as Ashtanga Yoga, Power Yoga, Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Bikram Yoga which are dynamic and fast flowing, heating and working on the muscular system.
Yin Yoga is calmer and more peaceful, working on the connective tissues which consist of ligaments, tendons, cartilage, joints, capsules and our fascia network. Or in other words: Yin Yoga is a series of long held stationary and passive poses which allow the muscles to soften, so that the deeper tissues can get the benefits of the practice.
Yin Yoga helps you to strengthen your immune system, to become more flexible and mentally more peaceful through its meditative quality. Stillness and silence are part of a Yin class. It allows you to keep breathing and observe yourself, your body and how you feel in a pose on a physical, energetical and also emotional level.
As the connective tissues by nature are less elastic than our muscular system, poses are held for up to 5 minutes which allows you to settle into stillness, totally surrendering into the pose so the pose can work on the connective tissues. In Yin Yoga we don’t use the body to get into a pose, we rather use the pose to get into the body.
Yin Yoga is about relaxing, melting, letting go, going deeper within.
Yin represents the lower half of the body, the front of the body and the left side of the body.
Breathing in is Yin – breathing out is Yang.
To understand how to balance those two forces, this would describe it in a more practical approach:
- Yin Yoga targets the connect tissues — Yang Yoga targets the muscles
- Yin Yoga is about how you feel in the pose — Yang Yoga is about proper alignment
- Yin Yoga is slow and passive — Yang Yoga is repetitive and rhythmic
- Yin Yoga emphasizes holding postures for longer periods — Yang Yoga emphasizes on movement
- Muscles are relaxed in Yin Yoga — Muscles are contracted in Yang Yoga
- Joints can safely move to their full range of motion in Yin Yoga — Joints should not be moved to their full range of motion in Yang Yoga
To take away: everything in life has either a Yin or Yang quality, it is for you to find the balance. What you consider balance can change in different stages of your life and is totally different for each of us. Don’t get fooled, there is no such thing as the perfect balance as nothing is permanent, we are in a constant state of flux. However, by adding Yin quality to your life you can add more calmness and peace to your daily actions.
Curious about Yin Yoga? Join my free 90-min Yin class!
They are lovely to do in the morning or before bedtime to slow down and relax, making it a perfect practice for better sleep.
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