I spent infinite hours practising my Yin Yang drawings as a whipper. Hell I designed my first “collection” around them when I was 10 on my fashion wheel (remember them!?).

Those black and white swirls I could draw in my sleep, but had no idea what they meant apart from adorning all the clothes in Tammy girl I wanted in 1993.

I’ve been studying this concept of late. Beyond the 90s fashion comeback. A Taoist concept which broadly describe the two relative qualities, the energies that are present in everything. We are all a little Yin and a little Yang. It can depend on all sorts of physical, mental and environmental factors. They not to be viewed as opposites, in fact one can only exist with the other.

The theory came from the patterns of daylight. The sun would rise bringing light (Yang) to the mountainside whilst the other side remained dark (Yin). As the sun moved around the earth, different parts of the mountain would come into light and dark, and only one could exist with the other, the eternal dance together.

And that symbol adorning my first “collection” is symbolic of this balance, both sides exactly equal, the opposite spot a seed of the others existence, the curved line separating them illustrating the work they do together.

There’s also a sense of interconnectedness, that these two sides make a whole, and that rather than each person, matter, object in the universe as separate – everything is connected, constantly moving, always in flow, complimenting each other.

I think one of my brain cells just got a bit bigger.

It’s said we have qualities of both- light and dark present always, and here comes the tricky bit…attaining balance between the two. When our Yang qualities are more present, we might be very active, positive, and restless. We might also be more reactive to sunshine, light and heat. With Yin, it’s being softer, more passive and slower. We’re connected to the earth and find peace in the dark.

In a literal sense, it could be about listening to two sides of a story, or understanding and accepting a different point of view. Doing this can make us stronger even though it might feel we’re going against our grain – to acknowledge change and understand our reaction to it. It’s hard to see at the time, and frustrating as hell, but sometimes a challenging opinion can be an opportunity for personal growth.

When applied to Yoga, its a great way to get out of the physical body and out of the mind. Warming the body up vigorously to begin with, invoking Yang qualities by using powerful sequences takes us from worrying about work / the kids / what to have for tea, and to the mat and the moment. It’s an active sequence working on warming up the muscles and getting the blood flowing and renewing, building strength and stability. The key is to move into each posture with a strong breath, moving purposefully and slowly, using all the muscles to get there and try this – imagining your experiencing the body and the postures for the first time. Feeling the feet grounded on the mat, the air touching your skin as your move.

A great Yang sequence to try is:

  • Surya Namaskar x 3 rounds
  • Warrior 2 / Vira 2
  • Reversed Warrior / Viparita Virabhadrasana
  • Extended side angle / Utthita Parsvakonasana
  • Crescent pose / Anjaneyasana
  • Warrior 3 / Vira 3
  • Crescent pose / Anjaneyasana
  • Half moon pose / Ardha Chandrasana
  • Crescent pose / Anjaneyasana
  • Plank / Kumbhakasana
  • Four limbed staff / Chaturanga
  • Upward dog / Urdvha Mukha
  • Downward Dog / Adho Mukha

The second half of the sequence is all about getting deep into the fascia tissue (and the mind of course) now the body is warmed up using Yin positions. The poses are held for longer, and as much as possible, passively, slowly deepening with each breath, connecting more to the ground with each release.

This about direction attention, breath and stillness to the areas of the body which for tight, which might be physical or might be mental.

A lovely Yin practise might look something like this:

  • Downward Dog / Adho Mukha
  • Three legged dog / Eka pada adho mukha svanasana
  • Pigeon Pose / Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
  • Sphinx / Salamba Bhujangasana
  • Lord of the fishes / Ardha Matsyendrasana
  • Supported bridge / Supported Setu Bandha
  • Reclining Bound Angle Pose / Supta Baddha Konasana
  • Corpse / Savasana

Bringing your whole self, and your body to the practise will aim to create a sense of balance. It’s a lovely practise to do on a Sunday, resetting and preparing for the new week.