A common image on yoga clothing, jewelry and mats is the yin/yang symbol. It’s a popular image with yogis because it represents finding balance, something we strive for on and off the mat.
The first limb of Patanjali’s Yoga—the five yamas—is in part about finding balance. The yamas teach us to be content with what we have and to avoid excess. We are then free to be our best selves.
Finding balance in yoga is a mix of effort and surrender. We need both, and we need to know which direction we’re leaning toward, so we can work on finding the middle. The middle is where we find balance.
Finding Balance in Yoga Means Knowing Which Way to Go
Have you noticed how many things yoga is good for? It’s interesting that some are, in a sense, opposites. For instance, yoga can increase your energy and it can also calm and relax you. It can give you superpowers, and it can make you humble.
Yes, yoga is all about finding balance!
If you’re feeling sluggish, you would probably not go to a restorative yoga class. A power vinyasa or hot yoga class might stress you out more if you’re feeling anxious. If you’re looking for inner peace, you’ll probably prefer a mellow studio to a class at a gym.
In other words, yoga will help you find balance, but you need to choose a practice that brings you back to your center. To do that, you must be aware of what you need. And if you’re having trouble with awareness, yoga can help with that too! No matter what type of practice you do, being present on the mat for each pose helps you stay connected with each moment of your life.
Balancing Yin with Yang
When we’re choosing what to practice, it helps to understand the difference between yin and yang energies.
Yin is associated with the earth, coolness, and sustenance; it is nurturing and calming. Yang, on the other hand, is associated with creativity, heat, and action. But yin cannot really exist without yang and vice versa. The key is finding balance.
So, if you’re stressed out, too busy—in a sense, overheated—you’ll want to bring down your yang energy with a practice that is more yin. You can emphasize meditation and calming breathing techniques in your practice. You can also practice Yin Yoga, where the focus is on holding poses for longer periods of time. Yin poses emphasize stillness, focus, and clarity.
On the other hand, if you are too mellow or sluggish, you need to increase yang. You can do this with breathing practices such as kapalabhati (breath of fire) or a vinyasa practice that flows energetically. Yang yoga poses emphasize strength and endurance. Ashthanga yoga is a good example of a yoga style that is usually more yang than yin.
Where are you out of balance? Tune in to how you’re feeling and decide. Then you can go to your yoga toolbox and find what you need to get back to center.