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Archive

Yin / Yang

Feb 16, 2012

The Hatha yoga, which is generally practiced in western yoga centres and classes, can be interpreted as a Yang yoga practice. The Wikipedia definition follows:
 

Hatha yoga (Sanskrit: हठयोग haṭhayoga, IPA: [ɦəʈʰəˈjoːɡə]), also called hatha vidya (हठविद्या), is a system of yoga introduced by Yogi Swatmarama, a Hindu sage of 15th century India, and compiler of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.[citation needed]

The Sanskrit term haṭha refers to the use of persistence or force, and haṭhayoga is translated by the Monier-Williams dictionary as "a kind of forced Yoga or abstract meditation (forcing the mind to withdraw from external objects; treated of in the Haṭha‐pradīpikā by Svātmārāma and performed with much self‐torture, such as standing on one leg, holding up the arms, inhaling smoke with the head inverted &c.)." [1]

 
  
This perception that we must work hard to attain a goal, even if that goal is peace, is one which is rarely questioned in our culture. But as it is with everything, there are many paths to Truth. One person told me just yesterday that I had made yoga accessible to her by telling her to listen to her body. She had felt that a yoga class was not for her because she was out of shape and not up for the effort that it took to keep up in a class setting. Many people find it difficult to find a class which suits them perfectly.

 

When I first took a class from Ann-Marie Ahye at Yoga Weyr in 2009 I was quite taken by how the class left me feeling rested and open rather than exhausted from working so hard to perfect the poses. We rested deeply in postures for many minutes - sometimes up to 10 or 12 - without effort. Our attitude was one of receptivity and letting go rather than force or trying. Ann-Marie called it a body meditation and the following year she referred to it as Yin yoga. I started to realize that I had a frame of reference for this attitude of residing in the body sensations from my work as a masseuse. Applying force sometimes gets us where we want to go, but if trying doesn’t work perhaps we need to stop trying and accept that we need to explore our body, mind, spirit or emotions with a different attitude. Staying with whatever arises within us, watching it change, responding appropriately and with awareness. Often spending time in repose has taken me to depths in my practice which were unattainable in my regular Hatha flow practice.

 yin-yang.png

Many studios are adding yin classes to their offerings. We are beginning to acknowledge the unknown, flip side of the symbolic messages of the yin/yang dichotomy. B.K.S. Iyengar is well known for his energetic, some might say forceful, and meticulous style of yoga. But Iyengar is also the yogi who is at the forefront of developing both therapeutic and restorative yoga. He has observed how western practitioners have interpreted yoga and how some of us have taken our self-loathing to our mats by practicing with aggression towards ourselves. We have been trying too hard and causing ourselves harm. He implores us to lighten up and relax our desperation to "get it right." We need to bring a lightness into the dark places and a bit of the dark into the light. This is the way of balance. 

 

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

Peace, Peace, Peace

 

 
 


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Posted by Brenda Piquette on
I'm a fast learner with most things, but it took me 40 years to learn to listen to my body. Now I take the time to pay reverence to it every day... and things are beginning to change without my assistance, slowly but measurably.
Posted by Gisela on
Tyler,Great article! Thank you for snairhg! I have sent this on to the nursing supervisor at the VA Outpatient clinic here in Columbus. I have been doing a 2X a week Hatha program for them since late last fall. The program is funded by grant money, and she would like to get it re-funded for another year. The participants are nursing staff, who, like in the study, are folks who have done little in the way of fitness work prior to the class. The supervisor is looking for some ways to evaluate progress/benefits of the participants (3 of whom are physicians!) to include as data for the refunding. This article ought to really help her. Again thanks! And, good information for all of us yogi's to know as well!Martie Schoener Certified Yoga Instructor
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