Why Yin Yang yoga is the secret to a well-balanced life
Balance. We all know what it means, but when it comes to putting the concept into practice, well, that’s when things get a bit complicated.
Whether struggling to close your laptop at the end of the day or incorporate more dynamic poses into your practice, we’re always battling to find balance.
But the truth is, ancient Chinese philosophers cracked the code to a well-balanced life long ago. And no, it’s not some restrictive diet or strange holistic therapy, it’s Yin and Yang.
Look at the sun and moon for instance.
During the day, the sun warms up the earth, spawning life in every corner, while the moon brings rest, rhythm and stability.
Based on this core concept of life, Yin Yang yoga offers a perfectly balanced practice, helping out-of-sync practitioners find grounding, stability and joy in every aspect of their lives.
In this blog, we unravel the fundamental principles and beginner poses of Yin Yang yoga, and how the practice can help you forge a happy and harmonious life.
Let’s get stuck in!
What is Yin Yang yoga?
Yin Yang yoga might be quite a tongue twister but it’s a relatively simple practice once you wrap your head around the concept.
This nourishing meld of practices is rooted in the Taoist concepts of Yin and Yang, which state that all aspects and phenomena in life rely on the intricate balance of opposite forces.
Yin, meaning “moon” or “feminine” in Chinese, represents darkness, passivity, the earth and feminine energy. Meanwhile, Yang aspects refer to heaven, maleness, light and activity.
Together, these two contrasting forces create harmony, order and life itself.
Yin Yang styles blend these two principles together into one complementary practice that unites the benefits of passively holding yoga poses with more active yoga sequences and standing positions.
Based on traditional Chinese medicine, the purpose of this practice is to align your energy channels, improve your physical performance and bring harmony to the mind.
What to expect in a Yin Yang yoga class
Much like restorative yoga sessions, Yin poses are passively held for longer periods of time to target the mind and dense yin connective tissues in the hips, pelvis, upper thighs, sacrum and lower spine.
Through a series of floor poses, Yin yoga gently stretches out connective tissue and taps into the energy flow within to reach a higher level of stillness and peace.
This yoga style is often used to relax the mind and body before meditation practice, and release stiff connective tissues and joints. This slower practice is also a fantastic stress buster.
Yang yoga in contrast makes use of standing postures that are dynamic, energising and active.
A typical Yang yoga session makes use of rhythm and repetition like Vinyasa flow, improving blood flow, strength and flexibility.
When you combine these two yoga styles, you have the perfect balance of passive and active, slow and rhythmic, and movement and stillness.
At the end of a session, you’ll feel grounded, calm and full of life.
Is Yin Yang yoga suitable for beginners?
The Yin Yang yoga practice is perfect for any practitioner, whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned yogi with ample experience in both Yin and Yang yoga respectively.
As the style incorporates poses that are passively held for longer periods of time, it’s an excellent way for new yogis to practise at their own pace and improve their overall flexibility and strength in yoga.
The Yang portion of the practice can be a bit challenging for beginners, but when combined with Yin poses, it’s a much more manageable and soothing session.
It’s believed that a balance of both Yin and Yang yoga is key to a harmonious life and healthy body and mind.
What are the benefits of Yin Yang yoga?
Firmly rooted in traditional Chinese medicine and philosophy, Yin Yang yoga offers a complete reset.
If practised regularly, Yin Yang yoga has the power to bring balance to the body, mind and spirit. The practice is also known to:
- awaken and align the energy channels/chakras,
- reduce stress and anxiety,
- release stiff connective tissues,
- calm the nervous system and centre the mind,
- build strength and increase joint mobility, and
- improve flexibility and blood flow.
Simple Yin Yang yoga sequence for beginners
Whether your energy centres are out of whack, or you’re feeling lost in your practice, a daily dose of Yin Yang yoga will help you feel more grounded and balanced in life.
Some Yin Yang yoga sequences start with gentle Yin yoga poses that melt into more active Yang movements for an energising and restorative practice.
Others end with Yin and start with Yang, leaving the practitioner calm, relaxed and rooted in the now.
However you blend Yin and Yang yoga, it’s guaranteed to be a rewarding and rejuvenating experience.
This simple sequence offers a soothing and nourishing practice that even absolute beginners can master. So, find a quiet spot, grab a yoga block or comfy cushion if you need some extra support, and let’s find balance.
Start in the middle of your mat in mountain pose.
Let your hands hang heavy next to your sides, maybe close your eyes and feel your spine lengthen with each inhale.
Stay here for a few moments and become aware of the various sensations in your body.
When you’re ready, turn to face your yoga mat and step the right foot forward.
Bend your right knee slightly and feel a stretch in your left leg.
Keep your left leg extended behind you and reach your arms overhead so that they are in line with your shoulders.
Bring your palms to meet in the centre and tilt your gaze to the sky, allowing your head and neck to hang heavy.
Take a few deep breaths. Then, return to mountain pose and repeat on the left side.
Come back to the centre of your mat and step your feet out, wider than your shoulders.
Make sure that your heels and toes are pointing outwards. Then, slowly sink down, sending your knees out until they are directly over the toes.
Inhale and bring your palms together in the centre.
Take several deep breaths here before returning to mountain pose.
Standing Forward Bend
From a standing position, inhale and raise your arms overhead.
Exhale slowly, softening your head and releasing your upper body to the ground, inch by inch.
When you have reached your maximum, rest your fingertips on your yoga block or hug your ankles.
Relax into the stretch, feeling the tension in your neck, back and shoulders completely release.
After several seconds, bend your knees and plant your hands on the mat for the downward dog pose.
Downward Dog to Four-Limbed Staff Pose
Inhale and come into downward facing dog by bringing the soles of your feet to the mat and lifting your hips to the sky.
Root your hands into the mat and lengthen your arms.
On exhale, bend your elbows and dip your chest to the mat until your arms are in a perfect right-angle position.
Focus on your frame, ensure your back is in a straight line, your core is engaged and your weight is evenly distributed.
Hold your breath and focus. Move between these two poses using your breath to guide each movement.
Come onto all fours with arms in line with your shoulders and knees directly under your hips.
On inhale, arch your back and lift your head to gaze up at the sky.
As you exhale, round your back and bring your chin to your chest at the same time.
Hold each pose for a little longer than usual and feel the tension in your connective tissue release.
Sit up on your knees with your thighs perpendicular to the ground.
Open your right leg out to the side and keep your left heel and ankle in line with your hip.
Rest your right hand on your leg and straighten it as much as possible.
Then, lift your left arm up and gently lean your body to the right, feeling a deep stretch in your side and lower back.
Gaze up at your left arm and stay here for several breaths before returning to the centre and repeating on the other side.
Come down to the floor and lie flat on your mat with your palms pointing up towards the sky.
Maybe close your eyes and sink into the earth. Allow your mind to clear and your body to completely relax.
Take a couple of deep breaths, and when you’re ready, awaken.
Practising Yin and Yang yoga together each day is the best way to find total balance, not only in your practice, but in all aspects of your life.
If you’re seeking a deeper experience or would like to take your practice further, there are dozens of yoga retreats that offer an unforgettable experience of these two yoga styles.
With Basubu’s bespoke online marketplace, you can browse a variety of Yin and Yang yoga retreats and experience a new yoga style like never before.
Begin your journey today with Basubu.