Have you ever seen the Yin and Yang symbol and wondered what it meant?
To me it symbolizes balance.
The two sides of the circle represent Yin (the darker side of the circle) and Yang (the lighter side of the circle).
In Yoga we can think of our practice in terms of Yin and Yang. Yin Yoga is a slow and passive practice; poses are done on the floor, held for longer periods of time (2-5 minutes) and we are working with the deep connective tissue of the body. Yang Yoga is a bit more active or dynamic; some poses are done on the floor and many are done standing, poses are held for 1-5 or more breaths, and we are often targeting more superficial tissue, muscle, etc.
You can think of the breath in terms of Yin and Yang too. When we are breathing slowly, deeply, steadily, into our bellies like we do in diaphragmatic breathing and Durga pranayama (three-part breath) that would be a more Yin form of breathing compared to when we our breath is shallow and we are breathing into our chest. Kapalabhati pranayama (fire breath) at a rapid tempo would be an extreme example of breathing in a Yang way. And from the breath we can look into our physiology. Slow, steady belly breathing induces the relaxation (Parasympathetic) response while shallow, rapid chest breathing kicks the the stress (Sympathetic) response into high gear.
Here's a bit of a summary plus some other ideas for Yin and Yang:
We need both Yin and Yang in our lives; both are important in their own ways. Check in and observe, notice, be a witness to the balance or lack of balance in your life. How much time do you spend at rest? How much time do you spend exerting yourself? Consider this in terms of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self.
And join me on Wednesdays from 12:05-12:55 at the Brookside Wellness Centre where I share a class that includes both Yin and Yang poses. Typically we begin with flowing, active, Yang movement and then we settle into more still, grounded Yin poses. We lift up the energy and move with breath and then we calm the energy and ground into breath. Come try the balance for yourself. This class is suitable for beginner to advanced Yogis.
PS. If you look deeper into the Yin and Yang symbol you will notice that there is some Yang in the Yin represented by the white circle in the darker half, and some Yin in the Yang represented by the dark circle in the lighter half of the symbol. Even when we are lying completely still in Savasana (a very Yin pose) the body is still moving because we are breathing. And even when we are in the most Yang pose (let's use handstand for example) there is still some part of us that is still, otherwise we would topple over. There is always the grey area. ;)
Natalie loves life, people, animals, plants, and trees. She believes in the flow of life and approaches each day with gratitude.