How to Balance Yin and Yang in Your Yoga Practice
Yin and Yang are the Taoist concepts that bring together passive poses with dynamic sequences when brought together in one yoga practice.
Yin yoga incorporates slow, long-held, passive stretches that work on the deeper connective tissues (or fascia) and joints in the body. Yang yoga, on the other hand integrates more active movements that employ your muscles and blood flow, building strength, flexibility and physical endurance in the body.
Understanding Yin and Yang
Yin and yang is a concept of duality that creates a whole. They are also starting points for change, which when split can create imbalance in equilibrium. In Taoist yoga, yin refers to passive and yang refers to vigorous yoga practices, rooted in the belief that to formulate a balance in your overall practice, you need to learn to quiet yourself and exert yourself alternatively.
Yin is a more passive and introspective principle. Yin yoga was developed to penetrate deeply into your fascia, enhancing your flexibility and healing response. It also involves stimulating your meridians, or energy flow, to undo any energy blockages and elevate energy flow inside the body.
Yang is a more active and extrospective principle. Yang yoga is the more dynamic, hatha, Bikram or ashtanga based yoga practices that focus on developing flexibility, muscular strength and stamina.
Balancing Yin and Yang in Yoga
Starting a yin/yang yoga session with yin yoga comes with a number of benefits, such as:
You Target Deeper Connective Tissue
When you start with long-held, passive poses while your muscles are not yet warm, you’re allowing your energy to travel to deeper connective tissues, joints and corresponding meridian pathways. Stimulating your deeper energy pathways helps in supplying fluids to your deep connective tissues and joints, allowing them to stretch adequately and become less dense or tight. By comparison, when you start with a dynamic yang sequence, you’re directing your energy and nutrient flow to your superficial fascia and muscles only.
You Make Your Joints More Stress- Resistant
Beginning with yin makes your joints suppler as well. Yin yoga induces the production of more hyaluronic acid – a water-attracting compound that helps lubricate the joints. An increased supply of hyaluronic acid can allow you to get into deeper and dynamic poses comfortably, without friction between your joints and subsequent pain or inflammation.
You Boost Your Focus and Performance
Yin yoga lifts any energy blocks present along your meridians and enables your organs to function optimally. Activating your energy flow stimulates your nervous system as well, allowing you to become calmer and more focused.
Targeting your superficial connective tissue only, however, causes your fascia to become denser and inflexible. This can make it uncomfortable for practitioners to sit in meditation or go deeper into their asanas.
You Trigger Myofascial Release
Yin yoga also triggers something similar to myofascial release, which helps enhance your range of motion and overall physiological function – all of which are required for a stimulating yang yoga practice.