The key to good health in Chinese medicine is balancing the body’s yin and yang energies. Yin and yang energies are considered opposites or at different ends of the energy spectrum. At the same time, one cannot exist without the other. The qualities of each are like black and white. For example, yin is the moon and yang is the sun, and yin is considered feminine energy while yang is considered masculine energy. Yin is rest while yang is active and yin is west (or sunset) while yang is east (or sunrise). You get the idea. How do you keep the body’s energies balanced? Let’s take a closer look.
1. Know the signs.
To find balance, you must first know when there’s an imbalance. For example, if you have a yin deficiency (too much yang), you may feel anxiety, hyperactivity, frustration, anger, overwhelmed, overly controlling, overly judgmental, and unable to relax. If you have a yang deficiency (too much yin), you may feel depressed, stagnant, tired, hopeless, weak, jealous, or have low self-esteem. No imbalance is a good imbalance, but once you know the signs, you can take steps to rebalance the energies.
2. Channel the other energy.
If you notice you have a deficiency of one energy and an overabundance of another, take steps to channel the other energy. For example, if your mind is too active, causing anxiety, take steps like deep breathing, slow forms of yoga, or meditation to slow it down. If you’re feeling depressed or stagnant, go for a run. When you feel imbalanced, you’re often drawn to the more pronounced energy, but if you listen deeply, it’s often not the one that serves you.
3. See a professional.
A Chinese medicine practitioner can look deeply for any imbalances. For example, a practitioner can tell just from your pulse if there’s an imbalance. They may also look at a patient’s tongue as well as the texture of the skin, hair, or even the sound of a patient’s voice. Tender acupressure points may also indicate problems with the organs that they pertain to in the body. Imbalances can be corrected using a variety of methods like diet, massage, tai chi, and acupuncture. If you have a particular ailment, a practitioner can work to correct the imbalance that’s causing it.
4. Slow down.
Even though an energy imbalance can occur with either yin or yang energy, it’s important to note that we live in an increasingly yang world. We’re more active than ever before, constantly balancing work and family all via our smartphones. We amp with coffee and unwind with alcohol. According to Chinese medicine practitioner Brendan Kelly, too much yang energy can heat up the body. Foods like coffee, spicy foods, sugar, and too much alcohol cause anxiety and an overly active mind. Over time, it can also cause disease. For much of the population, finding balance may be as simple as slowing down and welcoming the yin, or rest, back into your world.
5. Get back to nature.
In Chinese medicine, nature is considered very balancing. If you’re feeling out of sorts, take a walk outside. Maybe you’ve noticed that you’re either anxious or depressed, on varying ends of an energy imbalance. In this case, consider a hike or going on a camping trip. Finding balance is all about extracting yourself from the lifestyle that’s causing the imbalance in the first place and getting back to basics.
6. Open up blockages.
Acupressure and acupuncture can open up stagnation in the flow of qi, which is life energy. Stimulating the flow of qi can clear up imbalances that may lead to chronic conditions. A Chinese medicine practitioner uses needles and massage pressure points to stimulate certain areas along meridians, or lines, of energy in the body.
Chinese medicine is all about balancing the yin and the yang energies in the body. It’s also important that the flow of qi isn’t stagnated by some sort of a blockage. By first noticing imbalances and then working to bring the scale to level once again, you can maintain optimal health and avoid chronic illness—both mental and physical—down the line.