For men and women alike, its so important to integrate qualities of the feminine (yin) and masculine (yang) in a balanced and harmonious way for optimal health and well being. Several years ago, I noticed that I was living my life in a way that felt like I was always running uphill. In the wake of my my dad’s death, I sought control and an artificial sense of strength in rigidity. I approached everything with an intensity that was unyielding and masculine (yang) in its nature. Aggressive, competitive, forceful, adventurous, and self reliant. I worked out excessively and intensely, followed strict diets with rigid rules and calorie counting, spent a year on my own traveling in South America, and searched out experiences like month long mountaineering expeditions on 23,000 feet summits to reach my greatest limits in enduring discomfort. I felt disembodied, struggled with anxiety, depression, and hormonal imbalances.
Towards the end of my travels, I sought out respite in a small farm and yoga community outside of Cordoba, Argentina. After a couple of weeks, the owners, Pepe and Lilliana, began speaking with me about cultivating and embracing qualities of the feminine (yin) more in order to create healing. The feminine, or yin, is receptive, intuitive, nurturing, sensitive, warm, gentle, and yielding. But it is also stormy, unpredictable, and emotional. Embodying these qualities would mean giving up my false sense of control, which seemed unlikely at the time.
This delicate dance of embodying the masculine along with the feminine has become an invaluable aspect of my journey. An easy place to play with this balance is in your yoga or physical practice, whether that’s running, cycling, swimming, dance, etc. When the feminine and masculine are in balance, we step into discomfort by extending, within reason, outside of our current limitations in order overcome the mental constraints of fear and attachment. We do so, not with force or efforting, but with allowance and surrender. Enter into the realm of discomfort in your next yoga class or training session. Maybe its doing inversions if you usually pick that time to run to the bathroom or maybe its in adding in a sprint on your run. Once in discomfort, notice if you are tensing up at your jaw, temples, or shoulders. Allow the skin to soften and invite in a feeling of relaxation while in the realm of what is possible between your previous limitations and the unknown.