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Yin and the Art of Movement

Many of my clients come to me looking to improve their balance.  While to many this means being able to stand on one foot, I think deep down most of us want more than that.  I may be a Joyful Gym Rat, but I don’t subscribe to the notion that constantly running on a hamster wheel is beneficial to anybody’s health.

In a world where it is all too easy to get off balance in many areas of life, it is not uncommon to have this phenomenon creep over into our fitness routine.  I’ve had clients who didn’t consider a workout to be effective unless they were very close to (or actually…) throwing up.  In our go-go-go society, we are often lead to believe that more is more.

In middle school, I wore a necklace with the yin and yang symbol although I had no idea what it meant (not something they teach in Catholic school I guess…).   Looking back, I wonder if I was intuitively drawn to this idea of balance, or simply a 12 year old wannabe hippie?  The world may never know, but I do like the idea of yin and yang as an adult.

In last week’s post, I mentioned a yin yoga teacher training I attended.  In case you aren’t familiar,  yin is a style that targets the deep connective tissues and the fascia that encase muscles and organs.  The goal is to release into a yoga pose rather than go deeper through muscular activity.

This particular form of gentle movement has many benefits.  Yin practice has been associated with increased range of motion, decreased levels of physiological stress, and possibly even an increase in the body’s production of  hyaluronic acid, a substance naturally found in the body that helps retain cellular moisture (aka the proverbial fountain of youth).

At first glance, people in a yin class may not seem to be getting much done.  In a deeper sense, they are accomplishing a lot.  In the quest for holistic health, it isn’t always necessary to be working to the max.  Slowing down and speeding up both have their benefits.

It may be helpful to point out that yin and yang only have significance in relation to each other.  For someone who normally participates in a gentle seated yoga practice, a brisk walk might be yang.  For someone who frequents HIIT classes, a brisk walk might be yin.  A balanced movement routine is very personal, and will change throughout the course of one’s life.

So next time you consider blowing off that high intensity interval training class in favor of something more serene, rest assured you are still doing your body good.  Though the theory of unity of opposites might be associated with deep thinkers,  deep tissues tend to like it too.

For more tips, tricks, and musings on health, head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!


To me and J this walk was yin, to T and Dee it was yang….

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