What Does Yang Represent?
The concept of yin and yang is one of the most fundamental theories in Chinese medicine that is used to describe the nature of the universe and everything within it. Yang nature represents motion, heat, brightness and expansion whereas yin represents stillness, coolness, darkness and rest. Where yang provides function, yin provides the structure; where yang stimulates activity, yin provides the substance or nourishment to drive that activity. As you can see, they represent opposite yet interdependent forces that cannot exist without one another.
One notable example when applying this concept to the human body is the role of proper physical activity followed by sufficient sleep. Both are essential to good health and longevity but if either of them are done too much or too little, balance is lost and health is most certainly affected.
How Is Your Yang Depleted?
There are various reasons why our yang becomes depleted so be cautious:
- Long exposure to cold – forget the fashion, pay attention to your body and make sure it is properly covered in the colder parts of the year.
- Over-eating “cold foods/drinks” – these include ones that are cold or icy to the touch, too many raw foods or foods with a cooling effect on the body. Balance them out with warming foods!
- Over-working – be cautious of over-training yourself. This includes any kind of physical activity even if you really enjoy it; if it exceeds your body’s ability to recover in the available time, it will deplete your body’s yang energy.
- Emotions – being in a chronic stress state and suffering from emotions like fear, can inflict damage on your yang energy as well as your yin.
Symptoms Which Correspond To Yang Deficiency:
“ Someone who is deficient in yang lacks the catalytic spark, the cellular chemistry of combustion. When our fire is weak, we become cold and slow, and physical processes become sluggish.” – Qi Gong master David Leggett
Yang is the creative, transformative energy that keeps your mental and bodily functions going, thus when yang is not strong enough to warm and activate the body, people experience symptoms of:
- always feeling cold
- lower back pain or soreness
- low energy
- poor circulation
- poor digestion or loose stool (especially in the morning)
- pallor and pasty complexion
- urinary disorders
- edema (accumulation of fluids in the body such as the lower legs)
- low libido
Some western conditions associated with yang deficiency include hypothyroidism, hyperaldosteronism, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), erectile dysfunction, infertility, chronic enteritis, chronic gastritis, chronic hepatitis, chronic diarrhea, urinary disorders such as urinary difficulty, excessive urination or incontinence, and the list goes on…
Simple Ways To Reinvigorate Your Body’s Yang
If you feel that you may have drained your yang energy over the years with a hectic or over-grueling lifestyle, here are some ways to help your body restore:
- Sunshine – One of the simplest and most powerful ways to activate your yang! The sun provides life sustaining energy that many of us have unfortunately come to have a bad relationship with. Yet it is essential for the production of Vitamin D3 sulphate, a specific form of the vitamin that is absolutely critical to our immune health, cancer protection, and longevity! Go outside in the early mornings or later afternoon without sunscreen to soak in some fortifying rays. In fact, if you can couple it up with some visualizations of the light rays cleaning your body of stagnant stale energy while powering you up like a battery, even better!
- Cold showers – Practiced for centuries by many cultures to increase the body’s resilience to disease; recent biomedical research found these short bursts of cold exposure induces an increase in T lymphocytes and levels of glutathione (powerful antioxidant and detoxifier). For the proper way to do it click here.
- Dietary therapy – As Hippocrates, the father of medicine said, “let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food” fully recognizing that foods have specific therapeutic actions on our bodies. For yang deficient people, warming nourishing foods should be incorporated into the diet to help support and sustain both qi and yang energy.
Animal: anchovy, mussel, lobster, trout, chicken, beef, lamb
Fruit: cherry, citrus peal, date, litchi, longan, peach, raspberry, strawberry
Grains and seeds: oats, spelt, sweet brown rice (and its products, i.e. moshi), quinoa, sunflower seed, sesame seed, walnut, pine nut, chestnut, pistachio
Spices: basil, fennel, dill, anise, ginger, turmeric, rosemary, sage, thyme, black and white pepper, horseradish, garlic, clove, nutmeg, fenugreek seed, peppermint.
Vegetables: parsnip, parsley, mustard greens, winter squash, cabbage, kale, onion, leek, chive, garlic, scallion, radish, sweet potato, cooked beans with ginger (e.g. black beans, lentils, aduki beans), hot peppers are warming only in small pitches, otherwise they have a strong cooling effect. This is also true of concentrated sweeteners.
Beverages: chai tea, ginger tea, jasmine tea
Try Eastern Medicine For A Strong Therapeutic Effect
- Herbs – There are a great number of yang tonifying herbs and formulas in TCM that are incredibly effective. Once again, a licensed professional with extensive knowledge of herbs will be able to take in the entire state of your body and prescribe the ideal formula tailored to your condition and underlying constitution.
- Moxibustion – Burning this herb over various acupoints are a phenomenal way to stimulate yang energy. Additionally, application of hot stones, warm baths, warm surroundings and on that note warm friends is wonderfully beneficial.
- Acupuncture – Focuses on the yang meridians which transmit energy for functions of revitalization – treated to increase heat, activity and life. This must of course be done by a licensed acupuncturist physician.
Paying attention to your body and responding in a way that helps establish balance is critical to enjoying a lifetime of good health. It can be as simple as downing a glass of cold water on a hot day or a hot beverage on a cold winter morning to assist your body in maintaining homeostasis. All of these tips and suggestions are helpful to those wishing to be able to take immediate steps to help improve their health, however if you are someone who is suffering from a chronic condition, it is important to seek professional advice and guidance tailed specifically to your needs. A certified acupuncturist physician can gather a clear picture of the whole state of your being and can address all the parts rather than focusing solely on one aspect of your health.
If any of these tips helped you or if you have a story to share, I would certainly love to hear your feedback!