Balancing the Body

by Jane Wurwand

We’ve all heard of Yin and Yang energy, but what exactly is it? Simply put, it is a facet of Chinese philosophy that believes that everything in life has two aspects: a Yin aspect and a Yang aspect. In a normal, healthy state, these two aspects exist in balance and harmony, as their proportions flow in and out of each other. But when they do not flow together, balance and harmony lack.

Yin energy is slower, quieter, colder and introverted. Yang energy is more active, loud, hot and extroverted. A healthy person will have a balance of these qualities in both personality and the physical body, but it is very common for people to lean toward one energy more than the other, throwing the balance off.

A perfect example of the difference between Yin and Yang is breathing. When we expand and fill our chests with air, we are in the Yang phase of breathing. When we exhale and deflate our chests, we are in the Yin phase of breathing. Therefore, Yang expands and Yin contracts. We are active (Yang), and then we lay quiet and rest (Yin). The entire body has Yin and Yang energies.

To understand Yin and Yang energies, we need to first recognize Chi, our life force.

Chi

Chi, our basic life force and energy, is the invisible force that works on harmony within the body and the mind. Formed from parental energy in the prenatal state, then replenished by food and breath, it directs & determines the body’s energy state. The Chinese believe we have a constant flow of Chi energy circulating through our body that travels along the meridians. Without this we could not live, which is why it is referred to as the life force.

Chi is viewed with higher importance in Chinese Medicine than blood. It is the ruler of blood, meaning blood would not flow throughout the body if we did not have Chi travelling in it. The universe has an energy force and so do we, and that is what connects us to the universe. Chi can be low in energy (Yin) or high in energy (Yang).

The Yin and Yang Body

The Chinese break the physical body up into Yin and Yang aspects, which are as follows:

    • Yin: The internal organs of the body, which are hidden and protected; the lower part of the body, which is in contact with the ground and rooted; the front of the body, which is protected by folding the arms and legs to enclose the chest and abdomen.
    • Yang: Skin and muscle, which are more exposed; the upper body, which is able to move freely in the air; the back of the body, which is also exposed.

Essentially, this indicates that the front of the body is Yin and the back is Yang.

The Yin and Yang Person

People can be characterized as being more Yin or Yang, depending on their culture, attitudes and body structure. But these energies exist in harmony, so a person is never totally one or the other at all times. One may, however, be predominantly one type at certain times. The key is to achieve balance, which means becoming diverse, moderate, flexible and in harmony with our body’s natural rhythms and needs.

A Yin body is more slender, sinewy, soft and dense rather than tense and wiry. To be Yin is to enjoy quiet, calm, simple environments and possess a more limited capacity for food, work and social interaction. Yin types prefer to avoid prolonged stress and desire regular, adequate periods of rest and relaxation. They become sick slowly and symptoms linger for longer, and they are more conservative and efficient. Yin types tend to become Yang deficient, and in such cases, they become unmotivated, introspective and have a tendency toward depression.

A Yang body is stronger, more tense, springy and muscular with a greater capacity for food and activity and a minimal requirement for rest. Yang people prefer and feel comfortable in a stimulating environment and act quickly and impulsively. It is characteristic of Yang to overindulge without severe consequences and, when sick, they suffer intensely and recover quickly. They tend to become Yin deficient and in such cases have difficulty relaxing and calming down, verging on hysteria.

Yin and Yang in Harmony

Professional skin therapists can use their knowledge of Yin and Yang energies (which is a key component of Chinese medicine) to create harmony and balance for the client during a treatment. When a person becomes deficient in one aspect, they most likely become excessive in the other aspect. This can have a serious effect on a person’s health, because nobody should be overly “up” or overly “down.” Finding harmony between the Yin and Yang energies shows great importance for physical and mental health, as the body and mind not only want, but need balance.

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alternative therapies
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Balancing the Body