Yīn and Yáng of Self Care

Guest Post by Alison Schneider, MSOM, LAc

At the heart of Chinese medicine is the theory of yīn and yáng. Yīn is night and yáng is day and together they create harmony in  the body.  Summer is the season of the heart and is about “opulence and blossoming.”  Yáng is summer, the high energy, full sun experience!  Yīn is the quiet blue lake, the night sky, being held. Within summer, it’s important to find moments of stillness and nourishment, a drop of yīn to balance the yáng.  Reserves of Kidney yīn and yáng are necessary to support the adrenal system and sustain energy. 

Self care needn’t be complex or goal oriented.  The following  illustrate a healthy lifestyle and are intended to support the elimination of metabolic waste and promote optimal physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.  I like to build basic, yin and yang self care practices into my every day through water, breath, nature, movement, and rest.  

  1. Water.  It’s simple: drink more water.  This cleanses the entire organ system.  A good rule is to drink about 3 liters of room temperature mineral or distilled water per day.  Add a dropper–full of old fashioned bitters pre–meal time to aid digestion.  
  2. Breath.  For Lung health, find your breath.  Upon waking or before sleep, place your hands over your navel and inhale deeply through the nose to expand the abdomen for a count of 3; exhale through the mouth to contract the belly for a count of 7.  Breathe in this way 25 to 50 times flooding your body with attention and oxygen.  Try to practice 100 conscious breaths daily.  
  3. Nature.  Make time to be out of doors for at least 20 minutes a day.  Simply being outside nourishes yīn.  Air, light, dirt, and green things reset our nervous system.  Pause your work and step into the world, find a forest or garden, meander through your neighborhood. 
  4. Movement.  Go in the direction of what delights your body for 20-30 minutes daily.  Yoga, qi gong, pilates, dance, aerobic activity and stretching all assist the circulatory system and continue detoxification.  Movement should be playful and enlightening; even small doses are impactful. What makes you feel free?   
  5. Rest.  Ideally to bed before 10p in total darkness.  Our endocrine and hormonal systems regulate themselves through the cycles of exposure to natural light and natural dark.  No need to actually fall asleep at this time; consider turning off your phone and computer, and settle into a restful activity to transition into sleep. I recommend 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep every night.  Sleep above all tends to the Kidney organ system and keeps yīn and yáng flourishing.  

Water, breath, nature, movement, and rest are back to basics self care.  Give them a try and feel the inner balance so you can stay feeling bright in these late summer days.  

Note: Unshculd, Paul.  Huang Di nei jing su wen.  

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