Yin & Yang; Yoga & a Meditation
Written by Gurudaya Kaur Khalsa
The theory of yin and yang is the principle upon which oriental medicine is based. These two opposing but complimentary forces create the momentum for the manifestation of all life. The ever-changing balance of these two polarities gives rise to all cycles and seasons, all shades and shapes and patterns within the Universe. Yin is the energy of the Earth, experienced as stillness, solidity and rest, while yang is the energy of heaven, seen in action, expansion and movement. Just as any disharmony in nature is seen as an imbalance of these two forces, oriental medicine also views all illness in the same way.
Remaining healthy is not only a matter of maintaining balance within the self but also of maintaining balance with the cycles of nature. The ancient yogis viewed health in the same way. Kundalini yogis recognize the importance of celebrating both the summer and winter solstice as a way of staying in tune with our own natural cycles. As winter relates to yin it is a time of returning to the stability of the Earth, of becoming quiet and internal. It is a time to regenerate the body and rebuild our energy in preparation for the coming year.
Unfortunately with the push in modern society towards ever-increasing profits and an ever-increasing workload we are left with little opportunity to enjoy the special “yin time” that nature provides us during the season of winter. With our busy lifestyle and so many demands on our time it is sometimes difficult to keep up. Unfortunately for most, it is the essential routine of self-care that is the first thing struck off our schedule during times of stress. It is not surprising that many off us enter spring with the realization that we’ve missed an important opportunity to rest. Making a commitment to maintaining our own health through a practice of yoga or is one of the best ways to get the most out of winter.
Daily exercise is essential to prevent many illnesses that are the result of stagnation. As opposed to other forms of exercise, which are very yang in nature and so actually drain the body of energy and heat, yoga is designed especially to generate energy or prana and balance it’s distribution throughout the body. For this reason alone yoga is the perfect winter exercise, not to mention that it’s done in a nice warm room!
The added benefit is that the gentle rhythmic movement of the body with the breath awakens the parasympathetic nervous system, stimulating the relaxation response, resulting in a cascade of hormones designed to strengthen immunity and increase feelings of contentment and connectedness.
The following meditation was given by Yogi Bhajan to be practised at the time of solstice. It is a meditation to relate to our own essence. Although it is short, its effect is very powerful. This meditation creates a deep sense of inner stillness in which we can find a true connection to ourselves, to the Earth and to the natural cycles of life.
- Sitting comfortably, raise the hands and cross the wrists in front of the heart. Both palms face toward the body with the hands in gian mudra (thumb and index fingers touching) the rest of the fingers are straight.
- Inhale deeply, exhale and hold the breath out.
- Mentally chant the following mantra, pumping the navel point with each word. Hari Hari Hari Hari Hari Hari Har
- On the first breath suspension repeat the mantra 3 times, on the second breath suspension repeat the mantra 4 times and on the third breath suspension repeat the mantra 5 times.
- To finish, inhale deeply, exhale and relax. Waheguru!