On the surface, Hot Power Flow Yoga and Yin Yoga seem like opposites.
Hot Power Flow is a vigorous practice that builds heat and strength through flow, where we actively create conditions to release what’s stuck.
Yin Yoga is a cooling practice of non-doing, where we cultivate stillness in a pose supported by props, observe the sensations in our bodies, and allow time and gravity to do the work of releasing.
And yet both practices can get us to the same place.
It’s not a question of either/or or “which one?”
There’s not just one way.
Each practice helps us build different skills, and we need both types of skills to navigate life successfully.
2 Skills To Navigate Uncomfortable Challenges
When we feel stuck in life, when we’re facing something challenging, when we’re in pain or discomfort, sometimes the solution we need is `action:
Ignore the discomfort, sweat it out, power through.
The skill of moving through “it” — whatever “it” is.
And sometimes, the right solution is one of non-doing: to accept the discomfort or the pain of what’s there, to feel into it, to breathe with it, to allow it to be there without judgment, and to watch it change as time and gravity do their thing.
The skill of being with “it” — whatever “it” is.
The Consequence of Extremes
There’s no situation in which one approach is always preferred over another.
Imagine working out only one side of your body: you’d quickly develop imbalances that would lead to injury.
This principle applies to our approach to work and how we move through challenges.
If you always ignore the discomfort and power through, what you push away or bury beneath the surface will eventually come up and force you to deal with it.
Although action is often the “preferred” approach in Western culture, action for it’s own sake isn’t inherently virtuous. Unwarranted action, or action for the sake of appearing busy, is perhaps our most sanctioned form of escape. But it’s still escape.
And if you tend to default to the more passive approach, “being with it” at the expense of taking outer action, you won’t find much forward movement.
Depending solely on things to fall into place eventually leads to a victim mindset, where life is happening to you and you have no agency.
The Ultimate Skills
The ultimate skills are versatility, adaptability, and self-honesty: knowing what you need in each moment.
When to take action, and when to embrace non-doing.
When to power through, and when to rest in stillness.
When to give, and when to receive.
Balance is not a static state of being; it is constantly in flux, always shifting.
In the course of every day, we ideally move through these two sides, the Yang of action and the Yin of receptivity, so that we stay in a state of balance.
3 Secrets to Navigating Polarities
Secret #1: Sometimes stillness IS the power move.
Any weightlifter will tell you that slowing down the movement is much harder, and where true strength is built.
Try doing air squats vs a wall sit for the same amount of time and notice which one is more challenging.
Over the long arc of time, water, typically soft and yielding — the ultimate Yin element — will drill a hole through a rock.
Secret #2: these two states are not mutually exclusive.
In nature, everything contains its opposite. The Yang is in the Yin and the Yin is in the Yang.
In stillness there is movement and in movement there is stillness.
We find balance by mediating the polarities, and by finding elements of one within the other.
We are in Libra season, the time to embrace the “both/and.”
Secret #3: do the thing you typically don’t do.
If you want to create more balance in your life, you need to do the thing that you typically avoid doing.
If you typically pick up weights, take a yoga class. If you tend to do hot power flow, take a yin class. If you always pull out your yoga mat, go lift weights.
Cultivate the skill of taking your non-habitual path.
Embrace the both/and of life.