Picture this: I rock up pretty sweaty (and a little stressed) to a Power Yoga class. Earlier in the day I had taught an outdoor Bootcamp (in 36 Degrees Celsius heat), followed by back to back Personal Training sessions. I had then made the decision that what my body definitely needed was another heat inducing activity, in the form of a Power Yoga class. Logic at its best, my friend.
My more observant instructor identified that actually what I needed was Yin Yoga. Now this I hadn’t heard of, so naively agreed to try it out. It turns out Yin Yoga is a whole lot more painful than I first anticipated. It is a slow-paced yoga class where postures (asanas) are held from two – five minutes (or more!). After 3 minutes in Pidgeon pose I honestly thought I might throw up from the pain of my tight muscles being stretched for so long. But despite this, at the end of the class I felt uplifted, rejuvenated and really really grateful! I had been giving my body way too much heat, rush, stress and general busyness. I needed to activate the counter balance.. let me introduce you to Yin!
Would you rather watch/listen than read? Check out the video summary here:
Are you out of balance?
Always thought yin and yang was just a nice-looking symbol to have tattooed on your ankle?! (For me, until about a year ago I thought it was yinG and yang!). Well I am here to tell you that it is way, way more than that!
The principle of Yin and Yang is a fundamental concept in Chinese culture and philosophy, dating way way way before you and I were born (and I mean WAAAAAYYYY before that!). The principle is that all things exist as inseparable and contradictory opposites, for example female-male, dark-light and old-young.
Yin is all about internal personal growth (and literally translates to the ‘shady side’ – typical then that it is also feminine), whereas yang is about external actions, and is the ‘sunny side’. It is important to maintain a balance of the two in order to be deeply satisfied, and find true happiness.
What’s the deal with Yang?
In our modern-day society yang is becoming prevalent, with pressure, worry and materialism taking precedence over fresh air and relaxation! We are all too busy honoring our yang energy – our busYness.
Yang has become far too cool for school– the masculine, positive, action based side of the Taijitu (the actual name for the yin yang symbol). But too much yang can make us anxious, hyperactive and even emotionless! We can’t keep running around at high speed without something giving at some point – and before you know it, you’re all yang. And that ain’t a good thang!!
Nourish your YINner self ; )
To achieve yin/yang balance you must pay attention to your needs and desires, pausing for reflection, and then making time to act upon them.
So, if you’re anything like me, balance is the order of the day!
Guaranteed ways to be more yin:
- Slow down – If you are constantly on the go, try doing something that is the opposite of what you would normally do, and watch yourself reap the benefits! This could be Yin Yoga, or even just a yoga class instead of spinning. Perhaps it’s getting up earlier and giving yourself more time to eat breakfast? JUST….SLOW….DOWN!
- Eat watery fruits and cooling vegetables – Yin foods are expansive and cooling. Think water based foods such as cucumber and watermelon. Avoid stimulating foods like caffeine, sugar and alcohol, as this will throw you off balance the other way, and have you craving yang foods such as red meat and garlic!
- Nurture gratitude – gratitude has been proven to increase our perception of happiness. Try and think of five things you are grateful for each day. It is as simple as that. Not sure you’ll remember to do this? You can find time to reflect by trying 10 minutes of meditation one morning. I had never been a fan of the thought of meditation, let alone actually finding the time to do it. With a ‘to do’ list as long as my arm AND leg, how can I possibly afford myself ten minutes of sitting still when I could get so much done?! Well, whilst I was training to become a holistic health and nutrition coach, I learnt more about the benefits of meditation, or ‘ground work’ as I like to call it. By giving myself those ten minutes in the morning, I am more productive for the rest of the day. Winning!
Try the 1 Giant Mind app if you’re not sure where to start. It’s worth it. Trust me!
- Get a massage – this is receiving, which is a practical yin experience. Yang is giving, and yin is receiving. Treat yourself to openly receiving something just for you, without guilt or rush. If you’re constantly looking out for, and after, others whilst neglecting yourself, you’re bound to come out of balance soon. This leads to resentment and other nasty feelings we just don’t have time for. Don’t let it get to that. Treat yourself and receive gratefully and openly!
- Get fresh air – ah the simple things in life that we so often forget about. Have you ever noted that the more time you spend outside, the better you feel? That’s the power of nature and fresh air. This is another way to mindfully slow down. Go for a walk and pay attention to your surroundings. Notice the colours you see, the sounds you hear and what you can smell. And at the end of the walk, you might just have thought of a few more things to be grateful for!
The result of finding balance…
Give yourself time, eat raw, be grateful, receive openly and breathe fresh air. Simple! If you do these five things, then you will start to feel calmer, become more productive, and actually start to enjoy the rush that is no longer dominating your life! Be sure to write a comment if you try any of these things, or if you’ve noticed you’re out of balance. Sometimes it’s not until we put some of these yin principles into action that we actually realise we were out of balance in the first place!
So here’s a big hand to those of us who are #BringingYinBack (not got quite the same ring to it as sexy!).
Are you feeling overworked and undernourished? Feel tired but wired? Stressed but lacking the energy to actually get your work done? Then join in my FREE Stress Less Week Challenge, from 1-7 November. Check out more details and sign up here.
Related: The 80/20 rule of time management | How to be more productive with your time and create a happy balance
Feeling out of balance and just can’t figure out why? I can help you! As a fully qualified holistic health and nutrition coach, we can together figure out what is blocking you from feeling and looking your best, and work on ways to improve your health from the inside, out. Just get in touch to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.