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. ;)
So, you've decided it's time to begin practicing Yoga? Or to come back to it after some time away? Or to try out a different teacher? Congratulations! Yoga is that wonderful friend who welcomes you when you're ready, understands when you need space or time apart, and is happy when you explore. Plus, you always feel good when you're around Yoga. :)
If you are coming to class with me for the first time, please come 10-15 minutes early so we can be introduced; so you have time to fill out a health history form and discuss any injuries, conditions, or concerns with me; and become familiar with the space you'll be practicing in.
Bring your Yoga mat if you have one (there are usually mats for you to borrow if not), and a water bottle if you'd like but it's not necessary. Wear comfortable clothing. It's suggested that Yoga be practiced on an empty stomach so if you need to eat before class, choose light snacks and save your big meal for afterwards.
Now, to take the pressure off....I believe that if you can breathe, you can do Yoga. You don't need to be flexible. You don't need any prior experience with Yoga. All you need to be able to do is breathe. In fact, if all you do is sit and breathe with awareness during the whole class, that's okay; that's still Yoga, and I believe it's the most important part of Yoga - breathing.
I welcome you to a safe space where you can release all expectations you've placed on yourself and get to know your body, mind, and spirit: your 'self' better. I am your guide, your body is your teacher. You don't need to do anything that is uncomfortable for you, does not feel right in your body, and definitely not anything that causes you pain. If any of these come up for you, find stillness, and come back to your breath.
Often in my classes there are students who have been practicing for years, brand new students, and everyone in between. What your neighbour is doing may be completely different than what you are doing and that is okay. I encourage and give everyone permission to follow their body wisdom; if you don't know what that is, that's okay too, it's why Yoga has found you. What a fun journey ahead!
If you're running late, relax, you are on your way to Yoga after all. I don't mind if you arrive late, just be respectful of the fact that we may be in silence, so please enter quietly. If you need to leave early, please let me know before class so that I am not concerned when I see you go before everyone else, and please leave quietly. During class, give me a little wave if you have a question, concern, or need a suggestion regarding a pose that is not feeling right for you, and I will come over.
Please contact me with questions, comments, or feedback at anytime.
Always be respectful of yourself, other students, and me while in the studio space, and hopefully beyond. :)
Welcome to our community!
Natalie loves life, people, animals, plants, and trees. She believes in the flow of life and approaches each day with gratitude.