One of our MerryBody members, the amazing Sharon said after doing a Yin Class: OH! This YIN class ?… even though YIN is ‘passive’, does it make sense that some poses are heat generators?
Such a great question. And the answer is YES! Some Yin poses are serious heat generators. I remember doing a class once in the middle of Winter and I had to strip off my jumper so quickly as my entire body heated up like a fire. How is this YIN? I thought!
Now, through my Yin Yoga teacher training, I have come to learn a lot more about this magical practice.
As with everything in life and the universe, there’s a Yin and Yang aspect.
The idea with Yin and Yang is that they are in a forever balancing act. There’s a little Yin in every Yang and a little Yang in every Yin.
Just think of the Yin/Yang symbol (actually called Taijitu in Chinese), the Yang swirls into the Yin and the Yin swirls into the Yang… and there’s always that little dot of the opposite within the other. It’s the idea of opposites existing in harmony.
As much as our Yin Yoga classes are about relaxation and surrender, it might be that one part of the body is in complete relaxation but at the same time, another part of the body needs to use some strength and structure to hold the body up.
A good example would be a Low Lizard Lunge. This pose is a serious BURNER. The stretch in the back leg’s hip flexor is all kinds of fire AND if you add the variation by coming onto the blade edge of the front foot, your arms and shoulders will get a bit of a workout.
This is your Yang within your Yin.
You can think about it like cold water… even though you’d think cold water would relate to Yin, if you were to go to the extreme of utter freezing water, well that would actually be Yang. Same goes for fire… a burning out of control fire would be Yang for sure… perhaps the Yin aspect of fire is that end-stage where the coals are turning grey with little flickers of fire orange.
Other poses within Yin Yoga like Frog, Cowface and Pigeon (sometimes) are really Yang – Yin poses.
If we bring in the Meridians from Traditional Chinese Medicine they too always pair a Yin Meridian WITH a Yang Meridian. This is the best way to cleanse and purify the body. The opposites work (swirl, twirl, intertwine) together to create harmony and balance within the body, mind and heart.
So the next time you feel the fire in your Yin class, or you seriously just want to leave the stretch because ‘this CAN’T be Yin… this BURNS, this HURTS, I am uncomfortable…’ do not run away! This discomfort is all part of the practice. It’s building your discipline and your Tapas (this creates TRANSFORMATION!). In fact, our latest Yin class Love Your Liver Yin is making quite the name for itself in this sense, it’s got some real burners! Instead of running away, maybe just hold a little longer, breathe a little deeper and notice if the discomfort begins to melt away.
Sometimes it will, sometimes it won’t. Every day on the mat should be treated as if it were the first time you have ever practiced. With a keen curiosity to how everything feels in that moment, in that breath.
Of course, if it’s a bad-bad pain, then stop… but not if it’s just that fire-burn stretchy feeling of discomfort. If it’s that… stay.
P.s always feel free to reach out with any questions about Yoga, Meditation, Mindfulness or MerryBody! I am here to help and (obviously) LOVE talking about this 😀