Yin/Yang

The concept of the yin and yang principles bring us back to paradox. Yin and Yang are forces that appear to be opposite or contrary but, in actuality, are complementary forces. In my yoga classes I tend to use two primary examples: female/male and dark/light. In the literal translation of the ancient languages, yin means bright and yang means dark.

In hatha yoga, we use yin to describe practices that are receptive in nature and yang to describe practices that are more assertive in nature. My classes are yin in that we move more slowly and thoughtfully through the asanas (postures), mindful of breath, awareness, and movement. There are elements of yang as we hold and fire builds or as we flow in vinyasa more quickly than usual. In yang classes, vinyasa tends to be the norm challenging us to breathe and move more quickly and strongly through the asanas.

We also define yin as the feminine (receptive) aspect of the Divine in all creation and the yang as the masculine (assertive) aspect of the Divine in all creation. As human beings, we carry elements of both in our makeup: physical, mental, emotional. Finding the balance of yin/yang on all levels is key to our health, happiness and well-being. Yoga and meditation are powerful tools to establish this balance and wholeness. When I first became a yoga student, I had little understanding of what I was doing. It didn’t matter because after about four classes I began to experience results. I remember lying on my blanket (yoga mats really didn’t exist yet) in savasana one night, falling into that sweet space within and thinking, “I will do this for the rest of my life.”

The yin/feminine was obvious in my life. However, that receptive, yielding nature was too dominant, out of balance and often led me into situations that were not contributing to my well-being. As my practice and my understanding continued to unfold, I learned to look to the men in my life to grasp more clearly the male aspect of yang. My father was raised on a sheep ranch in Nevada. He could live alone with a flock at a very young age, taking them to higher ground in the summer heat. He was an Air Force pilot in three wars, a warrior. He was also my Daddy who took splinters out of my fingers with the gentleness only love provides. He sat on my bed the night before my wedding and wept with joy for his little girl and the woman she had become. He taught me to be strong. Other men taught me to be more assertive and use the stronger side of my personality and nature. The balance came in finding the wisdom to be assertive without losing compassion for myself and others. Compassionate strength is powerful.

As I travel this circle of life, I acknowledge that I am designed with a nature and personality that is the foundation of how I move through life. On my path I meet others designed differently. Some move more happily and effectively through life and others less happily and effectively. My intention is to learn from both. My mother told me near the end of her life that she was blessed that, in many ways, I had learned what not to do from her. Powerful, right? From others I have learned what works in bringing balance and wholeness into my life.

For me, the answers are fluid, varied and eclectic. No one method remains consistent beyond its general use. Even with yoga and meditation, my practices constantly change and adjust to what my highest good is at the time. When my father and my nephew were in intensive care at the same time, in different cities, my practice became legs up the wall on a bolster at least three times a day and guided yoga nidra throughout the night because sleep was rare. Today my practice is a combination of asana, walking meditation, living mindfulness, and occasional guided meditation.

I am fascinated by the creativity of visualization boards or lists detailing what a person wants to manifest. My discovery is that, as soon as I use these methods in my life, the flow of creative energy stops. Period, end of story. The energy of manifestation stops. Each of us must find what works for us. Definitive methods work powerfully for many people. Awesome. An internal awareness or vision of how the manifestation will feel without too many details works powerfully for many others. Awesome.

I believe the difference lies in what creates a true balance within each of us. Balance sets us free to manifest our dreams from the True Self within. What balances you and nourishes True Self? Go with that. Give yourself permission to reevaluate your behavior and tools in case your needs change. Give yourself permission to try new and different things that may be outside your comfort zone. Then go with what works.

And always and in all ways remember to play, laugh and love.

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