Maybe the first thing you think of is the infamous black and white circle representing yin and yang. And you are not wrong. Yoga pulls on the ancient Chinese and Taoist philosophies, where Yin and Yang represent the concept of dualism.
The Nature of Dualism
The idea of something being dual, means that there are two opposing or contrary forces. It is the state of division, showing differences between two things. It brings into account that these two opposing forces may also be complementary to one another or interconnected in reality.
Yin does not exist without yang and yang does not exist without yin. One simply does not exist without the other. So while they are dual forces, they are dependent on each other.
What Makes Yin & Yang Different?
The material energy of yin is passive or receptive while the material energy of yang is active. These representations of yin and yang show themselves in the seasons (winter is yin while summer is yang,) and in gender (female or male.)
Let’s Get “Yin”
When it comes to yoga, Yin Yoga is receptive and softer in nature.
The practice is slow with postures held for up to 10 minutes, allowing you to work into your connective tissues and fascia. This practice, related to the stars, would be considered a lunar, or moon practice.
Because of the length of time that postures are held in a traditional Yin Yoga class, it is known for also being a meditative practice, calming the mind, and exploring joint mobility on cool muscles.
Benefits of a Yin Practice
● Reduces stress and anxiety
● Improves joint mobility and flexibility
● Works deep into connective tissues
Power Up Your Yang
Yang Yoga, on the other hand, is an activating practice, warming the muscles and increasing blood flow.
Different from Yin, where postures are held for a longer period and are typically seated or reclined, Yang Yoga is an upward practice, comprising more standing postures. This practice, related to the stars, would be considered a solar, or sun practice.
Yang styles of yoga would include Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Bikram, or any dynamic class that builds strength and requires active work.
Benefits of a Yang Practice
● Improves flexibility and strength
● Brings tone to the muscles
● Increases stamina and builds on connection of breath and movement
The Importance of Interconnectedness
As mentioned above, one does not exist without the other—there is no yin without yang.
This is important because it represents a balancing of the material energies. By incorporating a mix of yin and yang practices, you get both the physical exertion and exercise as well as the relaxation and recovery. It’s almost like you get to work out in a yang practice and work in in a yin practice!
Finding the Balance
The key to striking a balance is to mix it up! Take a look below at an example of what a well balanced week of Yin and Yang Yoga looks like:
Monday: Intro to Yin Yoga *Yin*
Tuesday: Strong Body, Balanced Mind *Yang*
Wednesday: The Four Purifications Pranayama Practice *Yin*
Thursday: Pilates Fire Flow *Yang*
Friday: Meditation for Balance *Yin*
Saturday: Strong Body, Balanced Mind *Yang*
Sunday: The Four Purifications Pranayama Practice *Yin*
Article by Sofia Frasca. Sofia is a certified yoga teacher, reiki practitioner, and Megaformer instructor. She calls the Tetons home along with her two dogs. If not at the thrift store or on the trails, she’s a total homebody.