Chinese philosophy conceptualizes two “complimentary opposites” in the universe with the Yin Yang symbol. The belief, as I understand it, is that opposing forces (hot v. cold, hard v. soft, fast v. slow) are interconnected and naturally ebb and flow over time. Maintaining a balance between the two happens naturally.
The body however, may not maintain this “natural” balance in a way that feels at all natural. Whether it be in the form of illness, or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), when the body insists that fast becomes slow, and aggressive becomes gentle, it isn’t always a pleasant thing.
Thankfully, I’m learning.
Although the 108 Day Challenge has ended, I am finding that I end up at the yoga studio almost daily. I’ve found a routine that compliments my activities off the mat. Hot Vinyasa on Monday, Ashtaga Foundations on Wednesday are my yang and Yin and Restorative my yin. The combination compliments my running rather nicely.
I now do my harder weekday runs on my yogic yin days and take it easy on my yogic yang days. It’s nice knowing that I’ll enjoy a nice stretch in the evening Yin class: a complimentary force to the yang-like running I’ve been enjoying in my midday runs. I find that I can hit my run workout with a little more confidence and zest knowing that I’ll be able to stretch it all out in the zen like setting the yoga instructor creates for us.
Although one might think that there’s nothing going on in Yin, my body will most certainly argue the point. In fact, after taking the 1st Yin/Restorative class, I noticed a profound “soreness” in my upper back. I was initially taken aback by it but I noticed something else. Along with the soreness there was an accompanying openness in my chest which coincidently seemed to relax some of the restriction I’d noticed in my breathing. Further analysis revealed that the very pose that sent me there was one I should have been doing all along.
Admittedly, after some confusing back-and-forth messaging with my physical therapist, I lost confidence in everything she’d advised in treating my scoliosis. Perhaps she was 100% confident that I would feel the stretch on the correct side when she replied, “… You can always try both sides, and the one you feel more of a stretch is the correct side.” But after reading, I was 0% confident in anything she had advised, whether about my thoracic curvature or the one in my lumbar region. And I stopped everything.
Of course it didn’t take a lot to come to the conclusion that the stretch was necessary. Not only is breathing easily nice, it is ESSENTIAL. The fight or flight mechanism kicking in during savasana, meditation, or the first pranayama is never good. Nor is it akin to a good run…or anything for that matter. After realizing the connection, I resumed my prescribed thoracic stretch — which involves me draping my upper back over a foam roller at home, rather than the soft bolster we lie back over in Yin.
I also plan to add back the lumbar stretch too. I thought I’d let my body find a sense of yin-yang equilibrium from resuming the first stretch before doing so. We don’t want to disrupt the balance in my universe too much now, do we?
Speaking of the universe, how do you maintain the yin yang balance in your universe?