Posts

Finding Yin & Yang

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!

YOGA-ERYL

 

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

The Power of Meditation

Imagine waking up in a field of sunflowers, lying on a soft patch of grass with the sun’s warm rays kissing your skin. Where you choose to go from this paradise is up to you. You can stay in the bliss that stillness offers you tree-poseor wander around the field to soak up all the beauty it has to offer. When you begin your day with meditation, your mind can transform into that breathtaking sunflower field and your soul can explore it with wonder, love and gratitude. With practice, your world– the one you open your eyes to when the timer rings–can begin to take on the characteristics of the dreamy, peaceful place you tune into in meditation. Suddenly, the smell of those lilac flowers on your walk to work is intoxicating and wondrous. Simple acts like climbing into a warm bubble bath or slowly untangling your knotted hair begin to fill you with comfort and gratitude.

How, you ask, can meditation– which takes place in my mind–make my real world experience more fulfilling and enjoyable? Well, it starts with recognizing that meditation doesn’t merely take place in your mind, but also in your soul and your body. You can access this peaceful state when you’re not sitting on your meditation pillow by connecting with your soul through your physicality, or more specifically, through the powerful muscle in your chest. Your heart is your compass to love, serenity and happiness. You need only pause when you feel lost or unpleasant, place your hand on your heart and listen generously to what it has to say. When you allow yourself moments to tap into stillness and peace and quiet you can hear what your soul really wants. It may come to you as a quiet voice in your head asking for a break in the day, or as a pounding pulse that’s urging you to take action in a situation you’re facing. Listen to your heart, as it is the loving home of your soul. Connecting with your body, spirit and mind can bring you true balance and overall wellness.

Described in this way, meditation may sound magical, yet unattainable. It may feel out-of-this world, but it’s not impossible to achieve. If you’re just starting up a meditation practice consider that you already have all that you need to find peace and happiness. You’re born with it in your soul and you just need to reconnect to it from time to time. If you already have what you’re looking for then, you do not need to tirelessly search for it or work hard at it. Through stillness, meditation can let you effortlessly reignite the serenity inside of you so that it shines bright and pours out into the world around you. There is no doing or trying, there is just being. When you drop the struggle, all will reveal itself. Breathe, let self-judgment and expectation fall to the way side and the rest will fall into place. Remember there is no such thing as being good or bad at meditating, there is just your unique experience and journey towards your higher-self. What happens on the way there is just part of the path to enlightenment and it need not be judged or made to mean anything about you.

I struggled with meditation when I first began. I’d sit anxiously for a few minutes, sneaking a peek at the clock every chance I could to see when it would be over. It seemed I could never find a “comfortable position” to Meditation-by-lakemeditate in and my mind was a torturous hell that I would have rather ignored. Every self-doubt, judgment, piece of past pain or regret would surface during these moments of stillness and I’d become consumed by them. I didn’t know how to be still and peaceful at the same time. Through dedication and practice I can say that’s far from the experience I have meditating today! I wake up in the morning and can’t wait to find a place to plant myself for a few moments of tranquility. It’s getting easier and easier for me to tune into that simple, yet beautiful place without effort or discomfort. That’s not to say I don’t have days when I struggle to relax, but I’ve changed what I let those days mean to me. I don’t judge myself for being antsy at times or floating away in my thoughts. I notice it and let it go so I can be present for my next meditation.

That piece, right there, is the biggest shift I experienced in my meditation practice from displeasure to bliss. I began practicing non-judgment of my thoughts and dropped what I thought meditation had to look, feel and be like. If I started thinking about money troubles, an old argument or upcoming event I’d observe the thought without criticism and let it roll on by like clouds in the sky. With time, I became skilled at letting go of these negative thoughts and better able to connect with the peace, love and happiness in my heart. The best part of this all is that my meditation story is like so many others, one that includes initial unease and eventually leads to joy. Just be patient with yourself, experiment with different ways of meditating and find what works for your unique, beautiful being. Reconnect with the peace and love that created you and that’s destined to shape your life.

eryl-pic

 

Eryl McCaffrey is a yoga teacher from Toronto, Ontario and a passionate health and wellness writer. She’s driven to empower others to step into their greatness by spreading love and compassion. Check out her blog at; twofeetheartbeat.wordpress.com.