There are cold, wintry nights and then there are bright, warm summer days. There is effort and there is ease. There is starvation and there is food waste. The universe is comprised of yin and yang. Dark and light, strong and weak, sad and happy–these are all opposing forces that rely on one another in order to exist.
Yin and yang are two halves that complete each other. Nothing is completely yin or yang, as each aspect contains within it the starting point for the other aspect. Just like day turns into night and night turns into day. Yin is darkness, shade, receptivity and reflection, while yang is sun, light, energy and strength. You can’t have one without the other, especially in your life.
Find Balance on Your Mat
Yin-yang yoga is all about finding balancing on your mat. No, I’m not talking about being able to hold that headstand for 3 more breaths, I’m talking about finding the soft, warm and cozy halfway point between work and relaxation, play and perfect posture, mental focus and meditation. Yin is typically the reflective and restorative part of the class, with lots of deep holds to expand flexibility and remove energy blockages in the body. Yang is the active, energetic, hot part of the class, which improves muscular strength and stamina. To me, it’s the perfect marriage between challenge and release.
If yin-yang yoga isn’t for you, you can still apply the Taoist concept to your regular practice. Find ways to soften in a muscularly-draining pose, take child’s pose when you’ve sweat up a storm and need rest, or feel energetic during Sun Salutations to move on from deep releases and passive poses. Strive for balance, always.
Find Balance in Your Life
The more consistently you practice finding a balance between effort and ease on your mat, the more you’ll be able to find peace in the craziness of your everyday life. If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends lately with work meetings, social engagements and exercise, (a.k.a. living in yang), maybe it’s time for some stay-at-home nights to restore and relax your mind and body. Stressing with that work assignment or essay that you just can’t seem to finish? Stop trying so hard and start applying ease to your actions.
In fact, you don’t have to apply ease, you just commit to feeling the simplicity and ease in all that you do. So, instead of viewing that assignment as a super difficult task you’ll never complete, take it one step at a time and breathe through it knowing you’re capable of finishing it. Bring just a little drop of water to your fire so you don’t extinguish your flame too early. Go with the natural ebb and flow of life and always make a commitment to finding balance, peace and presence on and off your mat!
Eryl McCaffrey is a Power Vinyasa Yoga Teacher from Toronto, Ontario. She’s also a Freelance Writer, who’s passionate about health and wellness. Eryl believes in the power of love to heal and advance the world. Her blog: twofeetheartbeat.wordpress.com