Off the Mat: Yin & Yang
It brings me much joy to be writing this post from a place of reflection. To be in a very yang place in my personal journey, yet to still know yin. To still know peace and quiet. Even if it might be long before sunrise or after sunset when I have either found it or been able to recall it. There is still yin. There is still balance, as a mama who does her very best to live in a state of maitri each and every moment. And, though it may not always be to my liking, as a mama who cannot live in a state of maitri every moment, but is still able to look upon a day or a week and find the blissful times when I was lovingly aware – without even knowing it at the time.
When you take your Yoga practice off the mat, you will find that your life is truly a limitless and undefinable work of art. It is a mass of expansive tree branches with sweet floral scents and deep openings allowing life within, nourishing life without. There is the knowable, the unknowable, and everything in between. There is that which we define and that which we are wholly unable to label. Yin and yang are both – explicable and inexplicable at the very same time. Though able to be defined, they are without boundaries; yin being a state of serenity, calm and femininity in its nature. Patient and observant. Yang the state of passion and vigor. The state of doing, while yin that of being. Both are necessary, neither more important or useful than the other. Combined they deepen our lives and our connections.
We go through periods, through seasons, in our lives when we may come into what seems to be an imbalance of yin and yang. I ask you today to look at these times, and sense with your deepest core why you have determined this to be an imbalance. Does something just not feel right? Or is it because you have been told that an experience should be different than it is? Trust yourself. Look at the big picture. For example, look at motherhood, at parenting. Living yang may be outside your comfort zone, as it is mine, but when caring for a young tots needs, you are shaping their day and their beings with appropriate action – and often reaction. There are beautiful times of yin, but the yang is a necessity. We can’t just sit idly as our little being pushes peanuts into their beautiful little nose. And though it would be nice to assume that we’ve taken the proactive approach to vacuuming every single nut that was tossed onto the floor during lunch, we can’t count on it. Embrace your humanness. Embrace the yang, and commit to collecting moments of balance.
Find peace today. Winter is a time of yin. A time of rest and rejuvenation – body, mind, and breath. Take the time to focus on all three, not on your mat – but in your daily life. Caring for yourself, though challenging, brings about a greater life-joy. You are worth it. Stretch in the morning before (or while) you begin your day. Spend an extra five minutes in the shower, meditating on the luxury of shampooing your hair or just letting the water fall down warming and healing your body. Sit on the floor and breathe deeply in a moment where you feel overwhelmed, disconnected. If you’re able to get to the floor before these feelings arise, even better.
Practices on or off the mat that may allow you to find more yin in your day are unlimited. One that is particularly useful, as a centering tool, is pranayama – the yogic breath. Try alternate nostril breathing to reconnect the two sides of your brain and to deepen the space and unity between yin and yang.
- Begin by placing 1 drop of a soothing essential oil, such as lavender, between your palms. Inhale the scent.
- Taking peace-sign fingers, place on fingertip on the corner of each brow.
- Using your thumb, redirect the flow of your in-breath through your left nostril, closing off your right.
- If you are of good health, pause at the top of this breath and inhalation.
- Remove your thumb from your right nostril, and move your ring finger to close off your left. Exhale through your right nostril.
- Pause and then inhale through the right nostril.
- Using your thumb, redirect the flow of breath to exhale through your left nostril, closing off your right.
- Continue your breaths, pausing at the top and bottom of each breath. Enjoy the scent of your aromatic essential oil choice. Find that it deepens your breathing and sense of calm.
Pause and reflect: Why does practice with an essential oil enhance our ability to connect, reconnect, or stay connected? Learn more today.