There are many different styles of yoga in our modern world. Vinyasa Flow, Hatha, Power, Bikram, Face Yoga, Laughing Yoga—the list goes on and on. Yoga is becoming specialized in so many different forms so everyone can find what resonates specifically to their personal needs. If you are a hot yoga fan, you may feel drawn to the powerful practice that requires discipline and strength. The heated, yang, power yoga styles of the sun are really just half of yoga practice. Yang is associated with masculine, outward, light, hot, and fluid qualities. The yin, cooling, restorative, patient yoga of the moon is a beautiful counter to a balanced practice. Some characteristics of yin would be dark, cold, feminine, and inward. Yang style of yoga can heat up and burn through some of our tension and issues, which yin style can melt them away.
Your yang practice works on strengthening and stretching out muscular tissue. Yin style works the deep, connective tissues of the body, stretching fascia, tendons and ligaments. Ancient yogis mapped out the energy system of the body through deep meditation. There are thought to be 72,000 nadis, or energy pathways that carry this energy, or prana throughout the body. The word ‘nadi’ can translate to ‘nerve’ in English so you can imagine little nerves or highways flowing energy through the body. This system of energy led to the science of acupuncture, tai chi, and systems of yoga that open up and harmonize the flow of prana. Both yin and yang play an essential role. To enjoy the light, we must understand the dark. This lovely poem from Osho demonstrates the importance of opposition:
Sadness gives depth, happiness gives height.
Sadness gives roots, happiness gives branches,
Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and
Sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth.
Both are needed…
The higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes,
Simultaneously, the bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots.
In fact, it is always in proportion, that’s its balance.
Yin is the stable, unmoving, hidden aspect of things; yang is the changing, moving, revealing aspect. Yin and yang, hot and cold, down and up, happiness and sadness. Life is full of ebbs and flows. We are usually imbalanced in some way, and working towards balance. If someone has a sedentary modern lifestyle, yang yoga provides enormous physical, mental, and emotional benefits. The invigorating yoga postures like standing poses and Sun Salutations help to get the blood pumping to work muscles. Most of the Western styles of yoga are yang styles because we crave the action.
For people with an active lifestyle, yin is a great balance to undo the deep-seated tightness created over time in the joints. In a yin style class, you may sit or lay in grounded postures for 3-10 minutes at a time because the deep tissue takes longer to stretch. When you relax your muscular tissue as much as possible, the work gets put on the ligaments, tendons, and fascia around your joints. By creating space and freeing up the energy pathways through yin, you can release blockages and allow prana to flow. Through the quiet but intense nature of yin, extreme emotional releases can occur when you are freed from old holds and blockages. If you are looking to explore the balance of both Yin (Restorative) and Yang (heated Vinyasa) styles of yoga, visit yogabydegrees.net for a detailed class schedule of all Yoga by Degrees locations.