Meet your new yin yang vinyasa yoga class that aims to create body, mind, soul harmony.
This yoga class embodies simplicity, practicality, and equanimity. It was designed to tap into your inherent energetic qualities of yin and yang by capitalizing upon the body and breath connection that’s so vital to the yoga practice.
As a reminder, the word vinyasa means to link breath with movement, so anytime we do this on the mat, we’re participating in a vinyasa practice. This is contrary to what western yoga has us believe, which is that vinyasa needs to be a sweaty, power yoga kinda practice. But in all actuality, some of the greatest yoga teachers warn against this, telling us that anytime the breath is restricted we’ve surpassed the essence of the practice (which is a steady, continuous flow of inhales and exhales).
Why am I telling you this?
Because a few short years ago I thought a yoga practice wasn’t worth my time if it didn’t have me shaking, sweating, and begging for child’s pose. I thought my practice had to be dominated by masculine energy for it to be effective, and this is what led to injury – an overabundance of yang and a sincere lack of yin. If this is your current mindset, awesome friend, you’re in the perfect space to rewrite your story around what your yoga practice needs to be and how it can serve your needs, starting with this yin yang vinyasa yoga class.
You’ll notice throughout this practice we move with the breath, this is called dynamic movement. We inhale to create attention and extension (yang energy) and we exhale to create awareness and expansion (yin energy). Once we move dynamically which helps to warm the body, we then settle into static moments where we hold a postures and keep the breath present. This interplay of dynamic and static is a beautiful way to progressively acclimate the body to movement and go deeper within your postures.
I hope you enjoy it and feel good doing it too.
Butttttt before you go unrolling your yoga mat, let’s chat a bit more about yin and yang energy, as well as how this class came to fruition.
And what does that strange phrase above mean?
Well, it’s the yoga sūtra that describes the third limb of the eight limb system, which is your physical yoga practice. This sūtra states that asana must have the dual qualities of shtira and sukha (aka yin and yang qualities). Now what does those two words means?
Shtira is characterized by steadiness, alertness, extension and attention, the inhale breath, masculine and yang energy. Sukha is the ability to remain comfortable in a posture, to embody lightness and ease, it’s expansion and awareness, the exhale breath, feminine and yin energy.
And the Yoga Sūtras, which is one of the most important and highly respected texts regarding yoga principles, philosophies, and practices, says that BOTH qualities need to be present while practicing yoga. Both qualities, not one or the other, not more of one than the other, but both qualities in equal proportion need to be present. And to think that this instruction was developed thousands of years ago, and yet how relatable and applicable it is for us right now, in this present moment, today in our yoga practice is INCREDIBLE.
Or at least I think it’s pretty damn incredible……
Why do I share all of this? Because I firmly believe we’re living and operating within a male dominated society where oppressive, harmful behavior is not only encouraged, but praised. This is evident in how so many of us approach the yoga practice and expect it to help us lose weight and tone our muscles, and if it doesn’t, well then we must push harder, hold a pose longer, practice more, or fuck it, switch to a different workout regimen all-together.
You get the point.
I’m advocating for our yoga practice to be the sacred space where equanimity and harmony are celebrated and revered, a practice that can uplift our energetic qualities that are deficient, and discharge the energetic qualities that are excessive. I’m advocating for a large dose of compassionate action, which is to move forward and try our best, but to do it with self-love and self-acceptance.
Which brings me to the inspiration behind this yin yang hatha yoga class.
Meet Kriyā Yoga, the yoga of action, a branch of yoga that’s known for enacting yoga as an active way of living and being. A branch of yoga that I recently learned about and really resonated with, so much so that I devoted an entire month inside the Body Mind Soul Studio to learning about it and embodying it.
Let me give you a quick overview and then you can decide if you too would like to learn and embody this branch of yoga.
Kriyā yoga is the yoga action (love that definition) and it’s built upon three tenets – the pursuit of health, self-study, and quality of action. These three tenets also happen to be three of the five niyamas – tapas, svadhyāyā, and īśvarapranidhānā.
Psst: Wondering what the niyamas are? Click here for an introduction to the second limb within the eight limbs of yoga system.
The first pillar, tapas, instructs us to regularly practice yoga and yogic breathing exercises. The word tapas translates to heat, fire, transformation, and spiritual discipline. You can think of it like a kiln that transforms clay into pottery. It is through tapas (the consistent practice of asanā and pranayāmā) that we’re able to burn through impurities at every layer of our being, thus purifying ourselves from tension, toxins, stuck energy, and limiting beliefs.
Tapas is the pursuit of our physical health.
The second pillar, svādhyāya, instructs us to study ourselves, to inquire about our nature, to reflect upon our actions, and to study spiritual texts to help aid in this process. It’s here that we ask simple, yet profound questions like – who am I? what is my purpose? what is my relationship to Self? what is the meaning of life?
Svādhyaya looks like reading a chapter in your book, closing the book, and allowing yourself to contemplate what you just read. It looks like writing in your journal to make sense of life. It looks like restorative yoga. It looks like sitting in silence to relax the messiness of your mind. It looks like moments of nothingness and stillness.
And how does it feel? Well, uncomfortable as hell. Many of us don’t enjoy studying, nonetheless studying the interior of our intimate nature. But growth never happens in the comfort zone, this is known. Svādhyaya asks us to get uncomfortable so we can transform.
It is the pursuit of studying ourselves so we can belong to ourselves.
The third pillar, īśvarapranidhānā, instructs us to bring quality or intentions to our actions. It is traditionally translated as surrender, laying your actions at the feet of a higher power, and doing your best and leaving the rest.
But in the context of kriyā yoga, we want to focus on our actions and the quality of our actions. Why? Because while it’d be amazing to pour all of our energy into yoga mat time, breathing time, and self-reflection time, the reality is – we are householders too. We not only want to experience yoga as a way of living and being, but we also families to care for, careers to pursue, homes to maintain, tasks to accomplish, vacations to plan, and the many, many, many other things that householders do.
And more often than not, these householder things bring us into a state of fixation and attachment regarding our expectations and the outcomes. We so badly want our actions to manifest into success, to the point of frustration and exhaustion.
This tenet instructs us to show up, bring quality and intention to our actions, and to trust that that is enough.
We did our best, we can leave the rest (freaking love this).
These are the three building blocks of kriyā yoga, a yoga branch that wants us to live yoga off the mat just as much as we do on the mat. It’s the first branch I’ve stumbled upon that really and truly feels practical, like I can do that, I can do this, we can definitely do this kinda feeling.
If learning and embodying kriyā yoga interests you, then come join us inside the BMS Studio where the entire month is dedicated to this branch. Below is a snapshot of what you’ll experience if you choose to come join us:
- Four yin yang vinyasa yoga classes
- Kriyā Yoga take action workbook (+ in-depth explanations)
- Weekly love letters (aka emails) to inspire your efforts
- Bonus: Yoga Philosophy 101 Masterclass
- Private BMS Studio FB Group to connect with members!
- Access to all past studio content
And I believe it’s now time, time to unroll that yoga mat and experience what I’ve been talking about in this blog post.
I’ll meet you there,