In Chinese medicine, the whole is built from two aspects, the Yin and the Yang, and good health depends on a balance of these two energies. Any health challenge including infertility, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety and pain can all be essentially understood as imbalances of Yin and Yang, and in TCM, the remedy lies in restoring this critical dynamic.
The modern world and the way we live our lives are Yang in nature. Constant movement and activity, rushing, stress and busy-ness are all Yang in character. Our health and vitality depend on the balance of both energies, so increasing the Yin in your life is an essential task for healing and vibrant wellness. As the weather turns cool and our energy turns inward, now is a good time to incorporate some Yin building strategies to support the natural growth of Yin through these temperate months.
Acupunture and herbal medicine are great ways to nourish Yin, but there are other ways you can deepen your Yin away from the clinic.
Eat Yin Foods
Yin is slow, nourishing and deep so many foods that nourish Yin contain these properties. Slow cooked stews, congee and soups are excellent Yin nourishing foods, as are warming spices such as ginger, cardamom and cinnamon. Animal foods such as meat and eggs are good sources of Yin; consume these mindfully from organically raised animals where possible.
Rest in Yin
Sleep before midnight is said to be more restorative of Yin than that after midnight, so early bedtimes are helpful for cultivating Yin energy. Daytime naps are a delicious way to promote healing and nurturing.
Move with Yin Intent
High intensity exercise programs such as crossfit, F45 and hot yoga are all very Yang in nature. Balance these with gentle and slow practices such as slower styles of Yoga, walking and meandering bike rides. Yin yoga incorporates Chinese medicine principles and is a personal favourite for promoting stillness, calm and renewal. Adopting a slower mindset when exercising can also support the Yin; workout within your limits and save the bigger goals for Spring!
Cultivate a Yin Mind State
Research suggests that switching off is important and helpful for brain function. Downtime replenishes the brain and is important for productivity as well as creativity. Switching off also plays a role in the formation of memories, social connection and divergent thinking.
Allow your mind to wander in quiet and stillness to cultivate Yin. Meditate. Avoiding multitasking. Read or enjoy a quiet activity such as knitting, a puzzle or board game. Phones and screens stimulate the mind and promote the release of stress hormones. By enjoying time away from news sites, email and social media we are freeing our minds to rest and ponder away from constant inputs.
Enjoy the Yin of Nature
Nature is the ultimate grounding force and time spent gently enjoying the outdoors is deeply Yin replenishing. Bushwalking, foraging and exploring the wilds can help us reconnect and relax. When you can’t get away, potter in the garden or enjoy a local park for a mini dose of forest therapy.