The Yin & The (Lack Of) Yang

Today, I got on my mat for my first yang practice in I don’t know how many weeks. I’ve been practicing yin weekly, teaching and practicing gentle flows, and meditating daily, but an injured shoulder along with a realization that I wasn’t drawn to teaching vinyasa classes or more powerful flows resulted in a gap in my practice. The aspect of yoga that brought me to my mat in the first place had vanished. By my own choice. And until today I didn’t realize that leaving this part of my practice out completely had actually taken a piece of me, too.

The funny thing is, I thought I was doing the right thing for my body, giving my shoulder the rest it needed. And then, I thought that this realization of finding my passion in teaching meditation and slow, gentle yoga meant that this was how my personal practice should be as well. I thought that I had to practice what I was teaching in order to be authentic. And although I whole heartedly believe in the idea of balance in all things, somehow I didn’t apply that to the fact that I was practicing all yin and completely ignoring yang. My balance was totally off, and I didn’t even realize it. I was all consumed with my new yoga teaching role, the new direction of my personal practice, and my recent obsession with meditation that I ignored the internal itching for my yoga roots. For the movement. For the strength. It turns out, this imbalance had been manifesting itself in small ways in my life that in retrospect are so clear, but until today, I hadn’t made the connection.

This afternoon, I hadn’t even planned on practicing. I had already meditated earlier in the day and had spent some time outside walking. But after getting home from work, it was like I was moving in a trance. I rolled out my mat. I grabbed some crystals and placed them at the front. I turned on some reggae-inspired tunes, loud. And I began to flow. My body guided me through a powerful, strong vinyasa sequence. Finding Warrior II has never felt so good. So right. Familiar, yet new. My body has been craving this kind of movement, and I haven’t been listening. Today, I guess my body had had enough. She was no longer going to let my mind rule my decisions or my practice. She was going to take what she needed. And man, am I glad she did.

Of course, I’m still nursing this shoulder pain and taking modifications and rest when necessary. But that absolutely doesn’t mean that I can’t practice this practice. That I can’t move and sweat on my mat. And yes, maybe I’ve discovered that my teaching voice is more suited for gentle asana and meditation. But that doesn’t mean that my personal practice must consist of only that type of yoga. In fact, my gentle flows and my meditation can only benefit from a strong body and the calm mind that often follows a sweaty flow. It’s all part of the whole. The yin and the yang. You can’t have one without the other. Of course not. I’m not sure how I forgot this in my own life, in my own practice, but I am so grateful that the universe reminded me on this cold, sunny, March afternoon. I am so grateful that my yoga always has my back.

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