I went to a lovely Yin Yang yoga class the other day. At the start the teacher reflected on how the class was a metaphor for life. We were about to spend some time attending to the Yang – the dynamic, the movement, the energy, and then we’d head into Yin – the slowness, the softening, the relaxation. The two balance each other, you can’t have one without the other.
It reminded me of some thoughts I’ve had in the past about my energy or pace. I’ve experienced times where I’ve noticed I’ve been bouncing between frantic energy, and numbing out. My action mode has been quick and driven by fear and worry, and then to drop out of that energy I’ve found solace in a lot of tv, too many glasses of wine, even hangovers (because you can’t be frantic and quick with a cracking headache). It’s been either or, and it at times has definitely led me to burn out.
Our fast paced ‘doing’ culture supports this approach, even celebrates working all hours and then ending our days in the bar. Work hard, play hard right?
But actually an alternative, almost parallel approach can feel better, and can help us work and live resiliently and sustainably. That alternative is the Yin and Yang approach my yoga teacher was sharing. For me this is about finding ways to Yin that genuinely do heal and relax me – feeling warm is one (hello electric blanket in winter and sunshine in summer), meditating, yoga, speaking with people I trust. And then leaning into the Yang in an energised, methodical and light way. My Yang is about pacing myself, holding intentions for what I want to achieve but taming the gremlins that bring an air of panic to all that activity.
I know that I can’t be energised, methodical and light when I’m taking action if I haven’t genuinely leant into my calm Yin zone. And if I spend too much time in the Yin, I start to feel a bit lethargic, and like I need to move and be inspired. I need both to stay balanced. We need both deep calm, and powerful action.
It’s challenging to remember this when we are so regularly encouraged to take the frantic/numbing approach. But by making small changes towards the path of Yin/Yang we can deeply support ourselves to stay well and resilient.
I’d like to invite you to reflect on the ways you tend to your Yin and the ways you tend to your Yang. Are there any changes you want to make?
With love, Hannah and Team Bird
Image by Christophe Hautier https://unsplash.com/@hautier