92: Yin and Yang of Yoga

extremesThe equinox has just passed, the perfect balance of night and day in both hemispheres. The notion of balance is an important one in life and in yoga. How do we balance our extremes, obsessions and addictions with our willingness to let go? How do we get a handle on our clawing, clutching tendencies remembering to soften them and surrender, just accepting what is here now?

Here are the three major aspects of yin and yang in yoga;

Sthira/Sukha:

Sukha means agreeable, comfortable and relaxed. When we engage Sukha it feels good and nurturing.

The word Sthira means firm, stable, resolute. It also means being willing to go the distance and pay attention both in the mind and the body.

When we perform a pose in yoga or in life we need to have the right amount of strength to motivate us and hold us there. But then we need to soften and be pliant and accepting of where we are. If we use too much strength we become a bully, if we don’t use enough we become a walk over. Use your strength in the right dose to achieve what it is you have come for but be willing to soften and acquiesce where necessary. AT all times you need to find comfort in what you are doing no matter how difficult is is.

Effort and Surrender:

Too much effort will lead to depletion. Too little effort will lead to stagnation. In our yoga poses it should be minimum effort for maximum gain. Learn when to try a little harder to get into a pose but know when to pull back also. Same in life, you have to know that if you keep knocking yourself up against a brick wall, it is time to surrender. Maybe what you are putting your effort into is not the direction you should be going? Learn the difference between giving up because it is too difficult and surrendering to what life is actually presenting you.

Breathe:

Sama Vriti; Equal tempo of inhale and exhale.

After every inhale must come the exhale. If you are breathing in too much you are either going to die or you are having a panic or asthma attack. You need the exhale to balance each inhale. The inhale nourishes you and the exhale carries away what you don’t need. And this is the same with everything we do. Too much  inhaling (effort/ exercise/wrong food  and we will burn out and become sick. Too much emphasis on the  inhales will imbalance your mind and body.

Breathing in, I know I’m breathing in.
Breathing out, I know
As the in-breath grows deep,
The out-breath grows slow.
Breathing in makes me calm.
Breathing out makes me ease.
With the in-breath, I smile.
With the out-breath, I release.
Breathing in, there is only the present moment.
Breathing out, it is a wonderful moment.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Practice for today: Where can you balance effort and ease in your life? You life should be a steady mix of comfort and endurance, yin and yang. “Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.” Rumi

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