Yin Yoga and Mythology Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 8

Pan Gu

25 min - Practice


When you let go of the need to control everything, sometimes magic happens. This cyclic class honors the rhythm and balance of light and dark through dynamic movement and gentle Yin shapes as we hear about Pan Gu and the story of creation in Chinese mythology. You will feel deeply grounded, but also light and soft.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Welcome, we're going to begin this practice in a seated position. You can sit cross-legged or any other way that feels good and supportive to you. And then let your palms rest on your thighs, right about in the middle of your thighs. Invite some heaviness into your hands. Feel the weight of your arm bones.

Imagine that weight dripping down through your hands, into your thigh bones, into the earth. Inviting in the quality of heaviness, density, steadiness. Let your breath slow down, inviting in the quality of slowness. And then from that heaviness, can you create some lightness, feeling the parts that touch the ground, letting them sink in so that the rest of you can climb up and get brighter and lighter, more spacious. And feeling how the two co-create each other, how heaviness can help create lightness.

Just the same way that we only know the light outside because we know darkness. And this is the concept of yin and yang, which we'll talk about a lot today in our class as we practice. So let's come on to a child's pose for our first pose today. You can come onto your shins, bring your knees apart to wherever it feels like you can really settle your torso in between your thighs. I have my big toes touching.

And a couple ways to do this, if the floor feels far away, you can put your elbows and forearms down and then let your head hang and your upper back soften and round. If the floor doesn't feel that far away for you and you want to put your head on it, you can walk your arms forward and let your forehead come to the earth. I'm going to tell you the story today of the beginning of creation according to Chinese mythology. And in this story, there's an egg. There's a cosmic egg that's floating in the middle of nothing.

It's floating in emptiness. And inside the egg is everything that is and everything that isn't, and it's all mixed together in complete chaos. And inside that egg, amidst all the chaos, is a being, a giant named Pangu. And Pangu spends years living inside this egg, living with all of this chaos of everything that is and everything that isn't, all mixed together, until he finally decides that's enough. I've had enough.

I want out. And he grabs his axe. He has a giant axe. And with his axe, he chops the egg in half. Half of the egg, the white part, the light part, rises and becomes the sky.

The other half, the yolk, the heavy part, descends, it falls and becomes the earth. And Pangu, not sure if they'll stay separate and not wanting chaos again, he decides to get in between them and hold up the sky to separate them. So let's start to come up here. You can come on up to all fours, and we'll spend a little time on hands and knees moving the spine. And you can start in simple cat-cow, dropping the belly arching, and then pressing into the earth to round, feeling what parts of you are heavy, what parts are light.

Yes, any part of you that feels warm, and any part that feels cool. Are there places in your body that feel murky or dark, thick or heavy, and are there places that feel bright, spacious? And all of it is good, right? There's no good or bad here, welcoming all of it. You can move your spine like a jump rope, something I really enjoy to help get this feeling.

It's almost like if you could imagine the bones of your ribcage or polishing the inside of your skin a few times, you're circling up, around to the side, and then down and over to the other side to go back up, and then switching directions whenever you feel inspired to. Imagining that you are the swirling chaos inside the great cosmic egg of everything all mixed together at once certainly feels like that sometimes in our bodies, in our minds, in our hearts, doesn't it? And then what's the axe that we can use to cut through the chaos, right? For me, it's all these tools that we learn in yoga, breath, meditation, mindfulness, moving my body, all of it helping to cut through the static. So from here, let's go ahead and tuck the toes under, start to walk backwards.

We're going to come up to stand. So all the way up onto your feet, and when you come up, you can separate your feet pretty wide. I'm opening mine about as wide as the mat here, and we're going to grab our axe, our tools, reach it up into the air, taking a big inhale here, and then chopping down as you fold. Exhale. So a few like this, we're lifting arms up to the sky, and then soft joints, soft everything as you exhale and tumble down.

Might feel nice to breathe out of your mouth on the way down a big sigh. Cutting through the chaos. Thank goodness for yoga. One more time. When you come up this time, just pausing, you can let your arms descend, bring your feet comfortably underneath you, standing in mountain pose here, standing between heaven and earth, head and the sky and the clouds, feet and the ground, all earthy and grounded and us in between.

So Pangu, Pangu stood for 18,000 years like that, holding up the sky in his hands, keeping the earth below, because he was afraid that if he let go, that they would come together again and it would be chaos again. So he did that for 18,000 years, and then he finally got tired, and he laid down. He thought, I need a nap, so let's go down. We're going to drop the chin, going to take the feet a little wider if that feels good. I like to have mine a little more than hip width apart.

You can feel out what's comfortable for you, soft arms, soft knees, and rolling down, chin drops to chest, and you just take a slow roll all the way down. Sometimes we need to hold it together, and sometimes we need to drop it and let it go. There's a rhythm, there's a rhythm in everything, day becomes night, summer becomes fall. So let's crawl ourselves all the way out once you come down to your forward fold. You can walk your way all the way out onto your front side, and we're going to lay it all out, stretching your arms forward, drop your palms, drop everything, drop your head to the ground in a full prostration here.

Sometimes this is the best pose, isn't it, just to lay it all out. So Pangu, Pangu laid down, he gave up, trying to hold the world apart, trying to keep it all out of chaos and in order, and he laid down, and when he laid down, he was so tired, and he fell asleep, and he died peacefully in his sleep. We're going to walk the hands back in, and when he died, something really magical happened. Curl your toes under as you walk back towards your heels, and just pausing in a toe sit for a moment, your hands can rest on your thighs if that's comfortable or anywhere else. If you need relief, you can always sit up off of your heels at any point.

So Pangu's last breath became the winds and the clouds and the mist, his eyes became the sun and the moon, his voice became thunder, his blood became all the rivers, and his head became the mountains. His bones became Earth's minerals, and his soul became humans. Go ahead, and you can come up to your shins here, and remember when we were just in that prostration, that feeling of just laying down and letting it all go, I wonder if you can keep a little kernel of that inside you, holding on to a little bit of that feeling as you bring your hands to your low back, and take a gentle camel, so lifting up through the sternum, arching back, nothing major, nothing urgent, nowhere that you have to go here, just exploring with curiosity, can I find that full prostration in the camel? What would I have to do to find that? Do I have to back off a little?

Where do I have to let go, perhaps, to find that? And then coming right back up through the center of your heart, you can uncurl your toes, sit down on your shins, and we're going to come back into the full prostration. One more time, walking hands forward to lie down on your front, sending your arms streaming out in front of you. You can choose if you want your palms down, or if you want your palms up, different kind of energy, see what your body wants. So there's a real special kind of magic that can happen when we let go and stop trying to hold everything together, stop trying to control everything all the time.

And this story also tells us about yin and yang, that the light part went up and the heaviness fell to earth, walking yourself back, crawl your hands back under your shoulders, mess up through all fours, curl your toes under, sit back onto your heels once again in toe stand, and still inviting even here in toe stand to invite that same quality that you just had when you were all spread out and just lying on the ground. So in the yin and yang symbol, there's a little dot of white in the black part and a little dot of black in the white part, because they co-create each other, because there wouldn't be one without the other, because life needs light and dark and heavy and light and good and bad and beautiful and ugly, it needs it all. The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, under heaven, all can see beauty only because there's ugliness. One more time coming into camel and trying to keep that same sense of ease of relaxation. Toes can be curled or this time if you want to uncurl them, go for it.

Or some of you might even like to hold on to your heels in this camel if that feels good to you. So you can start to curl your heart back if you want to grab your heels, go for it. Finding a camel that still has that little tiny kernel of rest in it, is that possible? How would that be possible here? If you're all the way in with your hands on your heels, you can climb your hands up to your low back, lifting right up through the middle of your chest to come up, uncurl your toes if they were curled, sit down on your shins, tops of your feet, let your palms rest on your thighs, heavy hands again, the heaviness of your arms dripping down through your legs.

And then we'll finish in a child's pose, coming all the way back full circle, right to where we started again, we're going to add a little bit to this child's pose. So taking the arms out in the diagonal, you can walk over to the left, take a walk over to the left. And as you do settling where you feel that first edge where it's just enough, and if you want to, you might take your right palm and place it on top of your left palm. But if that feels like too much sensation, have them next to each other. And then once you find your shape, take a deep breath in.

As you exhale, let yourself sink. Sink like a stone in the water all the way to the bottom of the lake, where you can snuggle down into the soft sand at the bottom, and everything can happen above you, right? The waves are still happening, the world is going on, but you're undisturbed, snuggled at the bottom, undisturbed by what's happening above. Slowly walking back through center, take it to the middle for a moment, and then we'll walk it over to the other side. Same thing, your hands can be separated, or you might place your left palm on top of your right palm, and then resettle, drop down under the surface waves to the bottom.

So a friend told me a story about her father's funeral, a sad occasion for sure, but being there and witnessing all of these people whose lives he touched, people sharing these stories, learning things about this man that she knew all her life, but had never known this side of him, seeing how happy he made people, all the people coming together, and what a blessing that was, what a joy that was. And so, even in dark moments, we have these little glimmers, these little shimmers of beauty and joy, and it doesn't mean that the darkness isn't there, it doesn't make it go away, but it provides balance, you can walk yourself back through the middle, right? There's always that little drop of light in the dark, little drop of dark in the light, and it makes you appreciate it. When things are wonderful, you know it's not always going to be that way, and so you might cherish it even more. And when things are hard, you know that it's going to turn around, and it's just the way of it.

Winter becomes dark, winter becomes spring. It's yourself simmer in child's pose for just one more breath, breathing in long and slow, breathing out extra long and extra slow, and you can begin the journey back, crawling your palms back, coming up through your spine, rising again, and we'll bring the legs around front, and this is the part of the rhythm where we drop in, where we stop and gather, you know, there's a time to go hard, a time to really give it all you've got, and do your best, and there's a time to drop it, and a time to stop and gather and rest, so you can set yourself up for a shavasana here if you want to take any props with you to put on top of you or underneath you, you can snuggle your body around a little bit until you feel like you really fit yourself well in the ground, you found a good place where you can truly let go, you can let muscle loosen from bone, you can invite the breath right down into your bone marrow, breathe right into the caves of your bones, and as you exhale, imagine all of your bones exhaling with you, a big bone deep sigh, let your body spread out and be still. So before you come up, just thinking about the sensation, the feeling, the tone, the mood of this pose right here, the shavasana, and my teacher Cindy Lee, she says this is the underpants of your yoga practice, as in you're wearing it all the time, right, and so can we keep this, can we keep this little seed of shavasana secretly inside of us as we start to come up. You can bend your knees and roll to your side or any way that you want to come up, but coming up slow enough that you don't lose the yin of it, right, the earthy soft mysterious deep quality of yin as you come up into the brighter surface of things, the yang, and as you come up you can bring your palms together at your heart if you like or touch them onto your body to take a couple of breaths and just reminding yourself that you don't need to hold the sky up all the time, right, sometimes let it be somebody else's job, you don't need to control it all, you can lay down and when you lay down and rest sometimes that's the moment when the real magic happens, trusting that it's okay to let go. Thank you so much, I hope you enjoyed this practice.


Jenny S
1 person likes this.
LOVED this Kelly 💕 This is a teaching I work on every day and now I have the image of Pan Gu and the Earth and Sky to help remind me to let it GO. Many Blessings and gratitude to you 🙏🏻
Sandra Židan
What a beautiful practice with a great message! Thanks, Kelly, for sharing it with us! Namaste! 💖❤️🌹
Diane C
1 person likes this.
Kelly, I loved the symbolism of the story of Pan Gu and the relaxing flow of this class. Thank you. 
Kelly K
1 person likes this.
Diane C thanks so much Diane! lots of love to you xoxo
Kelly K
1 person likes this.
Sandra Židan namaste! thank YOU! 
Kelly K
Jenny S sending you tons of love xoxo
Rosanna S
2 people like this.
Thank you so much for this practice. I woke up this morning with a tight jaw, headache, and tears from the stress of recovering from covid while my dad suffers from a bad fall, not able to visit or talk with him. I felt powerless and sad. Opening yogaanytime today, I remembered this series, and this was my next class. Perfect timing. I don't need to hold it all together. I can let go. Thank you.
Kelly K
1 person likes this.
Rosanna S dear Rosanna! Thank you so much for sharing this, and it makes me feel so glad that this class was able to offer a little bit of relief. I'm thinking of you and wishing you moments of ease in the midst of difficulty. Lots of love ❤️
Elizabeth M
1 person likes this.
Rosanna S ❤️ 🤗 

1 person likes this.
A beautiful, nourishing practice for this rain-soaked, darkening evening. Thank you, Kelly.
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