A Quintessential Balance

stillness in movement & flow in stillness

Growing up on a farm, in what seemed like the middle of nowhere in Manitoba, was a pretty quiet existence – especially for a teenager. I wanted nothing more than to be a town kid. Life seemed so much more exciting for my friends who lived in town. From my vantage point, they didn’t have chores to do. My sisters, brothers, and I were responsible for milking the cows, feeding the pigs, weeding and helping to harvest the garden, along with  an enormous amount of cooking and cleaning. I’m not saying it wasn’t ever fun, but it sure didn’t seem very exciting!

Do I sound bitter? No, actually I am super grateful to have developed a strong work ethic. Work hard, rest, relax, and then play. I learned to distinguish the difference between being really active and really inactive; and to love and appreciate both.

At Surround Circle Yoga we practice Gentle Flow Yoga, a style of yoga where we viscerally feel the contrast of active and inactive. Yang activity is mobile, poses generally flow energetically together building to an apex before calming down, Yin activity is slow, steady and stationary, with a sense of softness and surrender. Blending the two is physiologically beneficial for the nervous system.

The black dot in the white side and the white dot in the black side of the Taoist circle remind us that there is no such thing as a purely yin or purely yang reality. Every balanced yin activity involves some yang elements and vice versa. The goal is a sattvic [pure] balance of tamasic (passive) and rajasic (active) energies – a beautiful marriage of yang and yin, effort and surrender, ha [sun] and tha [moon]. This kind of practice teaches us about stillness in movement and the flow in stillness.

Beautifully illustrated in Sandokai, written by Chinese Zen ancestor Shitou Xipian

Within light there is darkness,
but do not try to understand that darkness.
Within darkness there is light,
but do not look for that light.
Light and darkness are a pair,
like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.
Each thing has its own intrinsic value
and is related to everything else in function and position.

Yoga is often considered the union of oppositional forces, but it’s really about the relationship between things. Yoga is the quintessential balance of front and back, top and bottom, up and down, inhale and exhale. With every breath and every pose, we  embody and discover what a supreme example yoga is for how we live our lives.

At Surround Circle Yoga we focus on mindful living, healthy choices, creating community, living freely and loving fully. We offer programs that strive to entice the senses and stimulate lasting positive changes.


Leave a Reply