Yin and Yang is a relevant concept as the yin-yang symbol shows that there is yang inside yin, and yin inside yang. When we start practicing Yin yoga, we don’t have to rigidly force ourselves to stay in the posture without moving the body. Instead, focus on maintaining a stillness of mind.
In our body, the upper part is regarded as yang, and the lower part of the body is regarded as yin. If holding the pose for three minutes seems too long, we can keep the yin part, the legs in position and change the upper body position when we need to. For example, in Deer pose, while both sitting bones are touching the ground, the upper body can stay upright, fold forward, or twist and look back.
In addition to varying the upper body, we can also let the mind anchor on mindfulness breathing with visualization and create a pleasant image for ourselves. While the mind is actively focused on breathing, we will find satisfaction in stillness. The following verses are from Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh that I used for Deer pose practice.
Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.
Breathing in, I see myself as a flower. Breathing out, I feel fresh.
Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain. Breathing out, I feel solid.
Breathing in, I see myself as still water. Breathing out, I reflect all that is.
Breathing in, I see myself as space. Breathing out, I feel free.
By changing the positions of the upper body (yang), the body sensations will change, and this helps us to stay alert. At the same time, mindfulness breathing with a simple visualization helps us nourish the moment of tranquility (yin). Bring together Yin and Yang and enjoy the stillness!
- The Blooming of a Lotus : Guided Meditation Exercises for Healing & Transformation / Thich Nhat Hanh ; translated by Annabel Laity (Boston : Beacon Press, c1993), p23.
- For details on how to get into the Deer pose, visit https://yinyoga.com/yinsights/deer/
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