Yin and yang, we have all heard of it or seen its black and white symbol, I know I have. Okay, I lied. I had heard of ‘ying’ and yang. I laugh now as it reminds me of the times we sang the words to our favourite song and realised years later we were bellowing out the wrong words. Funnily enough, I am now writing about my own yin (no ‘g’) and yang journey.
The Chinese philosophy of yin and yang says that the universe is made up of competing and complementary forces: dark and light, sun and moon, male and female, old and young, to name a few. Whereby all things exist as inseparable and contradictory. And through this, with the correct balance, lies harmony.
I have been in Bali for two days for my 200 hour yoga teacher training and what keeps coming to mind when I think about being here is a contradiction. Coincidentally that’s one of the defining words of the yin-yang philosophy. I see chaos, yet peace in many different forms. The obvious poverty mixed with the smiling faces. The rubbish on the beach; the workers cleaning up that rubbish. The stray dogs along the beach playing happily with the collared dogs (someone’s pets).
The most apparent for me is that amongst this poverty, the noise, the dirt, and all the stimulation that goes with the many wonders of Bali, there is a daily reminder to check yourself. Almost as if to say ‘Hey, slow down’. There is not a day that goes by where the Balinese do not practice gratitude and karma. A public daily offering everywhere. Outside shops and homes, on motorbikes. Known as Canang Sari, the tray of offerings (those woven bamboo filled with a variety of offerings that you see throughout Bali), is the Balinese people honoring their Hindu god and expressing their gratitude. Every. Single. Day. This offering is a symbol of prayer, to maintain balance between the good and bad (gods and demons). To me, it’s the ultimate hope for harmony, Yin-yang.
So, does Chinese philosophy hold the key? Is one of the main goals in life to strive for balance, which in turn leads to a harmonious life? Is your life balanced? Are you living a life of harmony?
I know personally, that for the last few years, I have dabbled in the idea of creating more balance in my life. Eat healthy today, and have a burger on the weekend. Smash out the gym for five days then take two days off to rest my body. Work hard Monday to Friday, and relax on weekends. Get to a yoga class – vinyasa of course. But is this really balanced?
I’d say not entirely, not in the philosophical way. Balance is not about going hard then stopping and repeating until we pass. If we are now using the thinking of yin-yang as our archetype of balance, then the above (to me) is living in an extremely yang dominant state – a state I believe most of us live in. To create some balance, there must be some effort made by us to bring more yin into our lives.
Inner Yoga training, through their 200-hour yoga teacher training course in Bali, invites you to create this balance in your life. They bring a modern and mindful approach, and at the same time, draw on the traditional yoga philosophy as well as traditional Chinese medicine. The course is centered around the concepts of yin and yang, through focusing on different styles of yoga. Vinyasa, the fast-paced yang of yoga that we Westerners have come to love. Yin, a slower paced yoga where poses are held for a long period of time, a passive practice which brings quiet. As a bonus, we are also exposed to yoga nidra for meditation and mindfulness techniques. Inner Yoga training wants to teach us how to harmonize the two energies through these complementary styles of yoga by creating a learning space and offering you the tools to create balance.
On reflection, I can see that my life is very yang dominant. I push hard at the gym, and ensure I do my daily walks – I even wake up early so I can do both before work starts. But I am also very good at doing nothing. I can watch TV for hours and not be bored or sit out on my lawn with my dog and not feel like I must be somewhere (the occasional FOMO kicks in, of course). Some would call this balance, however, it’s become apparent that balance requires effort. Incorporating yin into your life to balance out the yang needs work. As they say, if it was easy everyone would be doing it and then everyone would be living a balanced, harmonious life. We all know that’s not happening.
Prior to booking my yoga teacher training in Bali, one of my goals was to bring more yoga into my life, but I didn’t realise that yin yoga is possibly what my life needed, what my soul needs. So, with that in mind, I check out of my hotel in Sanur and head off to commence my yoga teacher training with Inner Yoga training.
In 2023, we are bringing balance into my life.
Peace, Love and Nasi Goreng!
Author: Ricci Mishel Sauler