Some Yin for your Yang


Have you ever tried a yin yoga class? I’m sure you’ve heard the terms yin and yang… Well think of your body as the yang…the outer, physical layer of your being. The yang part of your yoga practice focuses on the shape of the pose and the physical practice which can bring a wonderful, body-based experience…

I love to get a good body workout from a yoga class and most people who come to yoga first seek out this practice for the physical benefits of this exercise.

What many people don’t expect to find is the yin … Going deeper into attention to the breath, noticing more subtle sensations ebbing and flowing in the physical body, tracking the changing feelings in the emotional body, and recognizing the space of the mind and thoughts . A yin practice helps to unite body, mind and heart to bring health benefits beyond just being more flexible or stronger.

Adding a yin aspect to your yoga practice can introduce you to the possibility of physical/emotional/mental equilibrium by bringing in softer and more contemplative modes of being in life. This brings balance, focus, joy, and vitality.

If you have felt that life isn’t often how you would like it to be, then learning the art of deep listening and tuning into internal, softer aspects of your yin nature may be the healing direction.

Yin yoga provides an opportunity to go within and realign your internal orientation. It will also affect your physical body and while simple, it will still often challenge you. It will provide stillness within which we can start to pay attention to what is really happening, right here, right now. It can provoke insights that may move us to make significant changes in our life or allow us to accept that what is happening right now might be exactly what ought to be happening right now. We may discover ourselves opening up to and connecting with our experience as it is, rather than holding on to resistance and feelings of victimization.


Take a comfortable seat. Perhaps dim the lights or have candle light. Close your eyes or soften your gaze and soften your breath. Set an intention for this moment. It can be as simple as acknowledging taking some time for yourself or why you are trying this yoga today.

Bring your awareness to your gentle breath. Feel your belly rise and fall with your inhalations and exhalations.

Try butterfly pose (baddha konasana). This is a great first pose to try for gently working into your hips and spine. From a seated position bring the soles of your feet together and then slide them away from you- take them out away from the groin so you have a nice diamond shape. Avoid the urge to bring yang into the pose by forcing the feet in too close which may be too much. Allow your back to round as you fold forward, lightly resting your hands on your feet or on the floor in front of you. Your head should hang down toward your heels. ((Note: This is a yin variation with a rounded back not a straight back.))

*you can put pillows, bolsters or blocks under your thighs for more support or a more restorative posture.
*You may place a block, cushion, or double stacked fists under your forehead if the floor feels too far away.
*you may elevate your hips on a bolster, cushion or folded blanket.
*you can rest your chest on a bolster placed across the thighs
*if this pose strains your back, do the reclined version – lying down, keeping legs in butterfly (Supta baddha konasana)

Hold the pose for 3-5 minutes or longer if desired. Breath deeply.

If you have sciatica, make sure you are elevating your hips with a bolster or cushion and tilting your hips forward not backward- think tailbone long to lengthen the spine so that you are not compressing your low back. We want to bring length between the vertebrae.

To come out of the pose: slowly inhale to rise, using your hands to push the floor away as you slowly roll up. Before straightening your legs, lean back onto your hands to release your hips and then slowly straighten each leg.

Take a moment to sit tall and breath deeply. Check in with your body, breath and mind.

Check out “The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga” by Bernie Clark. The source for much of the info in this post.

Contact me for a private session of a lovely yin practice in Mississauga or online via Skype. Suitable for everybody and EVERY body. Newcomers encouraged!

be gentle with yourself
you are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars…
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

~Max Ehrmann

In good health,


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