My heart is full tonight, as this big ole jet airliner carries us away from California, and the wonderful yogis in Ojai, after four life-changing days on retreat with Steve Ross and Meredith Klein. I always leave these retreats feeling renewed, balanced, and inspired.
I’m thinking about how great it is, to return to my family feeling happy, and hopeful about what comes next (more on that later, once I wrap my little brain around what it all means!).
I am also thinking about why I feel this way.
What is it, exactly, that is so life-changing about four days in the woods with a bunch of yogis?
I have decided that it must be that, when I am in Ojai, I get a whole lotta Yin, to balance out my Yang.
In Chinese culture, Yin is the softer, more feminine energy that grounds us, and Yang is the sharper, masculine, and manifesting energy.
They seem like opposites, but they are actually necessary parts of what is known as the “mutual whole.” You can not have Yin without Yang, any more than you can have an end without a beginning. We need both to survive.
One of my great realizations during this trip is that I have been favoring the Yang on my mat, and in my life. I have been so focused on getting things done, that sometimes I forget why I am doing them in the first place.
The need for the Yin to subdue the Yang is obvious when we are in Ojai. I think it’s mostly because our days are balanced with an equal amount of Yin and Yang. There’s loud, hot, sweaty, joyfui Yang Yoga in the mornings, and softer, introspective, restorative Yin Yoga, in the afternoons.
The Yang classes are uplifting, and light-hearted, with music that vibrates through my body. It makes me smile, and dance, and thank God. We hold poses for a long time. It burns, as it builds strength and detoxifies my body, both physically and spiritually.
Yang Yoga makes me feel empowered, ready to share my energy, and eager to be the change I hope to see in the world. After a Yang class with Steve, I can’t wait to manifest all of my brilliant ideas.
The Yin classes are completely different. We spend most of the class on the floor, in seated stretches that release the connective tissue (tendons, ligaments and fascia) in the hips, hamstrings, psoas, and shoulders. We stay in each pose for five minutes, and let our bodies open on their own, without forcing anything. It’s a little uncomfortable, which makes it a great place to learn to meditate. If you can meditate in Yin Yoga, you can meditate anywhere.
Allowing the poses to unfold naturally, instead of “holding” the poses, improves the flow of qi, the subtle, healing energy that runs through the meridians in the body. This is why they say Yin yoga boosts immunity, and improves emotional well-being.
Practicing Yin Yoga makes me feel centered, refreshed, and content–like every little thing really is gonna be all right.
There were other healing practices during the retreat, such as meditation, pranayama, dhrana, and dhyana, that balanced our Yin and Yang energies. I’ll talk more about those experiences in later posts.
For now, I just want to say that we could all benefit from adding a little more Yin energy to our lives. That doesn’t mean that we have to hold stretches for five minutes, for an hour each day. Although it really couldn’t hurt!
It simply means that we need to stop pushing so much, so that life can unfold as it is intended. There is a sweet spot, somewhere in the middle of trying to make things happen, and surrendering to life as it is.
When I travel to Ojai, I remember what it feels like to live in that sweet spot, and I renew my commitment to live life in balance.
Where is your sweet spot? What do you need to do to get there? Join me this week, by remembering to let go of some of the Yang, so we can make room for the Yin.
Happy National Yoga Month, y’all!