As a kid, my goal in life was to grow up to be a hippie.
When I was little, I had a pair of denim colored Keds. They were too cool for words, and I made them even cooler with ink drawings all over. Peace and love signs. Flower power. Kilroy was here. And the Yin/Yang symbol.
I never really knew what the Yin/Yang symbol meant, but I would draw it all the same.
When I was younger, I thought it had something to do with infinity and, as I grew older, I realized it had to do with opposites.
But, it was not until yoga that I came to understand that Yin and Yang are really about duality, and its meaning was impressed upon me the other day in the studio.
We were in Tree pose.
Standing on one leg, the other leg bends at the knee with the foot in the groin. Hands come into prayer, and the body stands still, looking straight ahead at a stare point, or Dristi.
After holding the pose for a bit, the hands interlace and lift up overhead, eyes following, all the while standing on one leg. The torso tilts back; eyes look for the back wall – a standing backbend.
Stand strong, the instructor said. Don’t be concerned about instability. After all, instability is only the opportunity for stability.
I was wobbling on my left foot, listening intently, and something clicked. Instead of thinking about how I could not hold the balance, I thought about the opportunity to do so.
The Yin/Yang symbol comprises two opposite shapes nestled together. Something positive cannot exist without the knowledge or experience of the negative. All is one, nestled together, and this is explained in the second verse of The Book of Tao, the ancient, classic Chinese text. The verse unveils the concept of the harmony of opposites – or the Yin and Yang. A portion follows:
Being and non-being create each other. Difficult and easy support each other. Long and short define each other. High and low depend on each other. Before and after follow each other.
We switch standing legs, and I bring the other foot to the groin. My hands return to prayer, and I find my focal point.