Balancing Yin and Yang

‘Life is best when lived in balance’, ‘balance your body and mind to balance your life’, ‘balance is everything’…sounds familiar? Whether it is work and play, rest and movement, diet or your outlook towards situations and events, staying balanced keeps you grounded, stable and content. It’s no surprise then, that even in yoga, balancing the yin and yang in your practice goes a long way in keeping you motivated on and off the mat. 

According to the Taoist tradition, this describes the two qualities or energies that are present in everything – our food, lifestyle, the changing seasons, our bodies and the world around us. Yin is feminine and is more passive, internal and calm while yang is masculine, dynamic, external and warm. Yin and yang exist together; just like the sun and moon, day and night. Yang forms of yoga include styles like Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Power yoga. They are dynamic and fast-paced. In contrast, yin yoga is a slow-paced, passive practice. 

Balancing Yin and Yang energy

Yin and Yang Yoga 

The yin and yang qualities referred to above apply to yoga as well. Yang yoga focuses on building strength and fitness. They involve sequences and repetitions. For example, a Vinyasa flow is dynamic and keeps you moving from one posture to the next, in coordination with the breath. Or, take the Sun Salutations sequence where repetitions are involved. 

Yang yoga targets the muscles, blood, organs and systems. It is perfect for when you’re looking for a fast-paced, high-energy practice on a slow day. But if you’re someone who is moving from one task to another, has an endless to-do list and lives an active lifestyle, you might find this to be one yang activity too many for you. 

That’s where you’ll find the need for balance, and perhaps, a yin yoga class would be perfect for you. 

Compared to yang yoga, yin yoga focuses on flexibility, form and mindfulness. It targets the deep connective tissue like the fascia, ligaments, joints and bones. Postures are held for longer, that is, 3-5 minutes or more, allowing you to truly feel your body. Holding still requires patience and awareness. You need strength to surpass feelings of discomfort and resistance to a place of stillness, calm and comfort.

Yin yoga offers you a space to slow down, connect with your body and emotions, become aware of thoughts and feelings, and find peace. It activates your parasympathetic nervous system, kicking your ‘rest and digest’ response into gear. A yin practice is what you would turn to for balance when you’ve had too much ‘yang’ going on in your life. 

Take a look at the wonderful benefits of yin yoga here. 

How do you know you have to balance your yin and yang?

Sometimes, if you’ve had a busy day and go straight to a yang class, you will find that you are pushing yourself. You will find the energy and stamina, but you’ll also find yourself feeling drained after a session. This means your sympathetic nervous system has been in overdrive. So after your class, when you’ve finally slowed down, your system is ‘crash-landing’. You will feel depleted of energy.

If this has happened to you or sounds familiar, it means your mind and body need some yin. When you know you’ve had a lot of activity, start your session with a calming yin practice. Do a few yin poses, taking your attention from your mind to your body. Release any tension, tightness and tiredness your body is holding. Take your mind from your to-do list to any sensations in your body. Ground yourself before jumping into a yang practice. Better still, attend a yin yoga class on such days. 

Another great way to ease into a relaxed state is ending your session with Savasana or the Corpse Pose. You can even do a short Yoga Nidra session. This will relax your nervous system, induce a sense of calm and peace, and infuse your body with energy.

Finding Balance in Yoga and in Life with Yin-Yang Yoga 

Yin and yang, although opposite, complement each other. They are interconnected and require each other. Every individual needs both energies, and balancing them is key. You want to feel energetic (yang) without being overactive (too much yang), yet you need to relax (yin) without feeling lethargic (too much yin).

Many of us sometimes find ourselves at a point where we need more of one or the other. There is nothing wrong with that. It could simply be a time where you feel you are more grounded and leaning towards a yin lifestyle, and therefore, need more yang practices. Or, it could be a time where you’re working a lot, attending events, traveling or taking part in physical activities, and therefore, need more yin. Sometimes, it’s also that you find yourself more mentally stable and balanced. You might have the patience and strength to listen to your body, know your limitations and what your body needs. 

Try to remain mindful of how you are feeling. Are you feeling over energetic? Low in energy? Which energy do you feel is lacking? Is it stillness or is it low activity and movement? Don’t stress if you’re not able to recognize this. Attending a yoga class is a great place to start. It will help you become more aware of your body, mind and energies. 

You might enjoy yin activities more than yang, or vice-versa, and that’s perfectly normal. If that’s the case, all you have to do is ensure you also give yourself a little time for the activities with the opposite energy, just so you are balanced. For example, you could join an online yin yoga TTC because you love yin yoga compared to yang forms. If you’re doing that, ensure you get some yang in your day by staying active at work, going for a short jog, walking to the supermarket, doing a few inversions, practicing a few rounds of Sun Salutations every day, etc.

It’s All About Balance 

There are many activities that can help you balance yin and yang. Yang activities include different styles of yoga, running, hiking, dancing, etc. Yin activities include meditation, taking a walk in nature, journaling, reading, etc. If you’re keen on exploring yin yoga in a deeper way, an online yin yoga teacher training is a wonderful place to start. 

The key is finding the right balance by being aware and mindful of your energies. If you are balanced, you will bring the right energy and the right attitude to everything you do. You’ll find yourself feeling refreshed, positive and happy. 

Contact us if you are interested in learning more about the healing benefits of yin yoga or discovering how you can make it part of your lifestyle. At Sampoorna Yoga Online Academy, you will find specialized help focusing on your well-being, no matter where you are.