Winter: The Season of Yin

The dark, cool nature of Winter embodies the essence of yin.  It offers the perfect opportunity to slow down, draw your attention inward and explore what lies at your core.

Yin and Yang in Terms of Relativity:

Yin and Yang are ancient Chinese concepts of relativity that date back as far as 700B.C.  They represent opposite but complementary energies and only exist because of each other.  They co-create each other.  Without fast, there would be no slow.  Without strong, there would be no soft.  Without heat there would be no cold.

Yang tends to be more masculine, bringing forth change, movement and activity.  It is representative of the sun and the warmth that it brings.  Seasonally, Spring and Summer tend to be more yang in nature, given the long sunny days and shorter nights and the surge in energy we experience.

As the opposite energy to Yang, Yin is feminine in nature.  Stillness, Acceptance and Introspection are key principles.  The dark, cool nature of Winter embodies the essence of yin.  It offers the perfect opportunity to slow down, draw your attention inward and explore what lies at your core.

Yin Concepts to Explore This Time of Year:

Stillness

Finding a moment of stillness in today’s fast paced, the busier the better, world can be a challenge.  In fact, society even encourages us to live our lives in a very Yang manner.  We are constantly moving, striving for something and are congratulated for how busy we are.

As a result, the concept of Yin in our Western society can even feel downright uncomfortable for most us!  Who has ever felt GUILTY about slowing down and taking it easy, while your mind races through the millions of things you should be doing?  Do you have trouble sitting still?  If you answered YES, then all the more reason to intentionally carve out time for stillness.

There are 3 types of stillness we seek:

Stillness of the body, like a majestic mountain

Stillness of the breath, like a calm clear lake

Stillness of the mind, like the deep blue sea

Find a comfortable, quiet nook in your home.  This space should be free of noise and other distractions.  Light a candle or incense or utilize some essential oils.  Make the space feel inviting.  Take a seat comfortable seat.  Try to sit upright, using pillows or blankets for support if needed.  Close your eyes and begin to focus on the rhythm of your breath.  No need to manipulate the breath.  Just let it flow.   Steady your gaze in between your eyebrows or towards the tip of the nose.  When the gaze is steady, so is the mind.  Release the thought you may be lost in and draw your attention inward, focusing on the sensations of the body and your breath.  Now just be.

Acceptance

In our society, acceptance can sometimes carry a negative connotation.  It is often viewed as giving up or admitting failure.  But acceptance is actually key to finding peace.

“Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, as opposed to how you think it should be.” – Wayne Dyer

To clarify though, acceptance does not equate to wanting, choosing, or supporting your circumstance or challenge.  It doesn’t mean you choose your anxiety or desire chronic pain.  But, by struggling against the pain — by resisting and fighting it — we create unnecessary suffering.  Imagine you are swimming in the ocean and get caught up in a riptide.  Furiously attempting to swim back to shore is a futile effort that will only exhaust and deplete you.  But if you roll over and float WITH the riptide, you’re able to stabilize your situation and lessen your suffering.

When you accept, you allow. You make space. You give yourself permission to feel what you feel and be as you are. The pain might still be there, but some of the suffering will be alleviated.

Introspection

Just as the animals retreat to safe havens in the Winter to hibernate, so should we.  This is the perfect time to switch modes from external to internal, from extroversion to introversion.  During these long winter nights, allow yourself to be curious about who you truly are.

When one first begins to reflect, it is easy to find yourself repeatedly asking Why.  Why did I get so upset after that meeting?  Why did I take that job when I felt uncomfortable about it?  This can bring forth negative emotions and propel us into victim status.  A simple fix is ask What Not Why.  

“Why questions can draw us to our limitations; what questions help us see our potential. Why questions stir up negative emotions; what questions keep us curious. Why questions trap us in our past; what questions help us create a better future. In addition to helping us gain insight, asking what instead of why can be used to help us better understand and manage our emotions.

www.ideas.ted.com

Here’s an example…Instead of asking Why did I pick a fight with my significant other last week (may elicit feelings of disappointment or frustration with self) ask What was I feeling at the time of the argument (may offer insight into emotional, mental, or physical self).

Find a quiet spot by the fire and give yourself time to check in with your emotions. Without pride or judgement, sit quietly with your feelings and thoughts.  Assess what is serving you and what is holding you back.  Journal if you feel inspired to do so.  Use this time of introspection to learn and grow as opposed to critique and doubt yourself.

“Introspection is the first step of healing.”   Michelle Sandlin

If you are interested in exploring these concepts further on your yoga mat, please contact our office at (804) 977-2634 to book an appointment with our Yoga and Meditation Instructor Lindsey Wrable.

About the Author:

Lindsey Wrable is a 500 HR Registered Yoga Teacher and Level 2 Reiki practitioner who offers private yoga and meditation sessions at Richmond Natural Medicine. She is well versed in many different styles of yoga and can personalize each practice just for you.  She specializes in mood management and is passionate about providing relief to anyone who suffers from compulsive thoughts, anxiety, depression, low self esteem, and a feeling of disconnect with self and others. To schedule an appointment with Lindsey Wrable, our Yoga and Meditation Teacher, please contact the office at 804-977-2634