The balance of yin and yang provides a filter for how I like to look at life. It means never looking at things in black and white, appreciating subtleties, always embracing change and flow, and trying to balance head and heart.
Personally, I have a love affair with yin. I believe we need more yin energy in the world, but I know that we only find ourselves through a balance of both yin and yang – we find yin stillness only within yang flow.
Here’s some tips for how you might balance yin and yang in your life, and in your yoga practice.
Stand up for yourself, let your own two feet be your firm foundation, then balance:
- when the ground moves under you (when things change that you can't control),
- when you want to move forward (you are going to have to take one foot off the ground to take that first step), and
- when life takes you in one direction (and you're forced to balance on one foot for a while)
You are your own unique foundation regardless of circumstances – stand up for your values, beliefs and passions. Stand strong like a mountain in Tadasana. Yin will root you to the earth, yang will reach you towards the sky.
Don't Be Afraid to Wobble
Balance requires wobbling – don't be afraid to wobble. If you don't wobble at least a little bit, you may be balanced, but you will be too rigid. And then eventually you will be become unbalanced.
Balance is a process of finding equilibrium, not a static state.
And if you get sick or tired of standing on one foot, just switch (preferably by standing on both feet first — there's not much point hopping around all over the place). You will probably be more balanced if you change emphasis for a while.
Go With the Flow
If you are trying to find balance within yourself (even from a firm foundation), but are misaligned with the universe, then balance is always going to be hard to achieve. Maybe your 'firm foundation' is really masquerading stubbornness or hiding fear.
While it’s important to know yourself and your values, beliefs and passions, it’s just as important to know how you fit in the flow of the universe (your universal purpose). When you find how you fit, you will be ready when the ground shifts under you and when the universe presents opportunities – you'll be in the best place you can be.
Breathing into the flow, in yoga and in life, is the starting point. In yoga the yin is the breathe, the yang is the movement.
Find Balance Within Yourself and Between Things
Aim to be balanced within yourself, first and foremost, and then tackle the balance between the things in your life.
If you are balanced within yourself, you can bring the right energy and the right attitude to each and every moment – to work, to play, to family, to stressful situations and to the yoga mat. You will be more balanced if you focus on the energy you bring to the moment (yin or yang) rather than the things you are doing in that moment (or worse, the things you'd rather be doing).
Of course, organising things in your life in a more balanced way will make it easier to find balance whatever you're doing. Hence we have posture sequences that balance fast and slow, standing and lying down etc.
Balance on Your Head or Your Hands Sometimes
A handstand or even a headstand is great for getting the blood flowing to the brain and for discovering a whole new perspective. Sometimes seeing the world upside down is just what you need to bring balance into your life. And its great for feeling more grateful.
New, more balanced perspectives, are much easier to achieve when you get a radical glimpse at how different life can look.
Travel. Get out of your environment and your head-space. Do something new. Do something difficult. Have fun. Just don't let too much blood rush to your head!
What are you waiting for? You can get up now!