Most of us are familiar with the Yin and Yang symbol that originated in Chinese philosophy, but did you know that this philsophy, literally meaning “shadow and light”, can be used to describe the varying styles of yoga?

Yoga Yin and Yang is used to describe how polar opposites or contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in relation to each other. In this philosophy, Yin is characterized as slow, soft, yielding, cold, and passive;  associated with water, earth, the moon, femininity and nighttime. In contrast, Yang, is fast, hard, solid, focused, hot, dry, and aggressive; associated with fire, sky, the sun, masculinity and daytime.

yoga yin and yang

Yin and yang are not opposing forces, but rather complementary forces, that interact to form a greater whole. Everything has both yin and yang aspects as light could not be understood if darkness didn’t exist, and shadow cannot exist without light. This concept shows up in yoga as well, we wouldn’t have Yin yoga without Vinyasa yoga and vice versa.

Many of us live our lives in “Yang”, rushing, constantly moving, focused and aggressive and struggle with the moments in our lives that are more “Yin” like, slow and passive. We understand that in our lives we need balance, work and play, company and solitude. We know that we need to have an equal balance in order to be truly happy. Some of us need less play and enjoy more work, but doesn’t mean that it is not enjoyed when we have it. Planning vacations and taking time away from technology and “work” are things we find we need to schedule.

The same can be said about our yoga practice, we rush to class and take in a fast paced Vinyasa class because we need to move, when perhaps we actually need to slow down. Often we don’t realize it until we are run down, tired, or sick.

Have a look at your yoga practice, is it balanced? Is your yoga yin and yang? Is everyday Yin like, perhaps if you live your life in a Yang way this balances it out. Is your practice more Yang like, along with the rest of your life? Perhaps its time to slow down and explore a slower practice.

Read more about slowing down, and the benefits of a slower practice here. And why not try a different class and bring a different balance to your practice, every week there are multiple Yin and Restorative classes to choose from.

How do you find balance in your life between work and play, is your yoga yin and yang?

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