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Restorative Yoga: Why You Need to Try Yin

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Find out how restorative yoga practices like yin can help you leave the previous year behind and look forward.

Chances are you’ve made a New Year’s Resolution at least once in your life. Consider previous resolutions—what were they about? If you’re like some, your resolutions involved making a healthier change in your personal habits. Maybe it was giving up smoking, doing more exercise, or eating better.

These types of changes are “yang” oriented. Yang is about action, passion, achievement, victory, and accomplishment. Though yang is important, I invite you to consider the yin aspects of our intentions to achieve balance. This encourages honoring both yin and yang in your life. Yin means acceptance, stillness, appreciating the moment, and doing small tasks each day as if they were extraordinary deeds.

We are always pressured to change, improve, to seek what we lack and fix problems

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But take some perspective and look deeply at every advertisement you see, notice the way an “ideal” life is portrayed. Listen fully to the advice of friends and family. It is easy to believe that how we are now is not enough. Because we are so ‘flawed,’ we must strive to improve. We must buy certain products, dress differently, get a different job, a new relationship, move into a bigger house, and so on… endlessly.

We have done this year after year, yet somehow we still feel inadequate. It’s because this approach is yang-focused. Without the appropriate balance, this will not deliver the results we seek. We may blame ourselves, we believe we must try harder and do more.

In years past you have resolved to give something up

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The dark side of that decision may have been rejecting the joy and pleasure you had once allowed yourself. As a consequence, you may become unhappy, hence, your resolution was destined to fail. Consider the cost of living your life solely through the yang dynamic. Realize that by living your interior life in this one-sided way can ossify that within your circle of living that is unwanted. This naturally begs for a shift in perspective.

 

Consider instead the role of yin in your life

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What things about yourself can just accept and not attempt to change by force? After all the years of striving for change, think of something that you can allow to simply be. This is a path to joy and change.

Author and enlightened spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle teaches us that whatever we accept, we can go beyond. “That is,” he says, “a kind of miracle.” And it is. Not accepting some aspect of ourselves can create excess emotional tension around the concept of whatever it is we wish to change. This emotional tension can act like a calcifying shell around the thing we want to change — entombing it within our being. That is not what we want. Yin is a way of letting go, surrendering. And when you let go of something it can fall away naturally.

 

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