We need a yin revolution. Only, it’s more of a yin evolution, because that’s more the nature of Yin.
We’ve just celebrated Mother’s Day and the nurturing roles that mothers play in our lives and the world. For this one day, our kids bestow us with the obligatory new slippers, the "I Love You" mug with hot chocolate and marshmallows, and most especially, those hand-made cards.
But as much as we appreciate our moms, after this one day, our world quickly swings back to the dominance of masculine yang energy and away from respect for the feminine.
A yin evolution does not mean feminism should replace patriarchy. It’s not about evening things up for women and men–although that would be a good thing as long as we understand it to be equal but not the same. A yin revolution is about acknowledging yin energy in women, men, children, our environment, and our world. It's about acknowledging the need for yin energy to heal our world.
Making the Change
Yang energy has brought us so much progress, and it’s in the active nature of yang to move forward. However, this energy has also brought us war, endless competition, and conspicuous consumption. Too much yang energy has brought us to the brink.
Yin energy helps us to surrender to spiritual evolution, peaceful progression, and quiet, contemplative creativity. ~Kathy Kruger
What our world needs, through a resurgence of yin energy, is equilibrium. We need to address this imbalance, but without turning things upside-down. We need to turn it right-side-up.
So what is yin?
Yin is the energy of connection, not competition. Yin is the energy of collaboration, not conflict. Yin is slower and deeper, not faster and "better." Yin is every bit as strong and powerful as yang, or at least it would be if we would acknowledge it.
Like consistent, running water which slowly smoothes out all the cracks, chips, and rough edges of a stone, yin is soft and quiet. It doesn’t make its presence heard nor shout out for attention; however, it should command ours.
Yin and You
So how do you recognize and nurture yin within yourself, in your yoga practice, in your work, relationships, and community? Here are some ways.
- Focus on breathing in. Yin energy is that energy we receive and take within. This practice is done with gratitude and with humility.
- Focus on listening. We receive yin energy by giving the gift of our ears to someone. In a stressed-out yang world, we can be far too ready to talk and get our point across (or ram it home). We were given two ears and one mouth. You do the math!
- Focus on holding asana. Yin yoga is all about deep, long-held, and restorative postures that open up our fascia, connective tissues, and joints. We can only get so deep into our bodies through acceptance and surrender. In yang asana practices, we can still take a yin attitude of allowing rather than pushing, and we discover new depths in this way.
- Make time for meditation. This is an instinctively yin practice. Yin yoga prepares us for it and is a meditative practice in its own right.
- Live slow. When we live slowly, walk places, grow our own produce, favor slow cooking over fast food, read a real book rather than choose the instant gratification of social media, we counteract the fast pace of a yang lifestyle. We also create the space for creativity which can only happen when your to-do list recedes into the background.
- Live more deeply. Multi-tasking is very yang and very common. How many tabs do you have open right now? Go deeper into subjects rather than skimming the surface of trending topics. Yin energy flourishes with space, silence, and stillness. It is hard to be really creative when you are flitting from task to task. When we combine the yin energy of contemplation and reflection with the yang energy of action, we can achieve mastery.
- Change your (and society’s) attitude. Realize that slow isn’t lazy. It is deeper, allows for some headspace, and often is more productive. Ever experience a burst of creativity after a period of reflection? Yin is often overlooked and dismissed as too passive. Yin is represented in the dark of night as opposed to the yang brightness of day. This darkness, though, is required for the light to shine.
I’m about to set off for some yin yoga teacher training. Having completed my foundation teacher training in a yang yoga style last year, I believe this yin will be the perfect complement. That’s the thing about yin and yang; they work better together rather than in dominance of one or the other. A more yin world would acknowledge and accept that balance.