The Yin and Yang of Life

Phillipa Butler
3 min readFeb 28, 2021


This past year has been a year of extremes with prolonged periods of social isolation during lockdown affecting our lives greatly. I am certainly finding that balance in my own life is much more difficult to achieve at the moment with many of my usual activities paused. There is a danger that we overeat through boredom, binge on box sets or even over exercise. These tendencies are inherent within our human nature but raised anxiety levels and the imposed restrictions are undoubtedly magnifying these traits and as the saying goes ‘you can have too much of a good thing’.

Deeply rooted in ancient Chinese beliefs (300 BCE), yin yang philosophy represents the duality of all things in the universe. Yin has a component of Yang, and Yang has a component of Yin, this is represented by the dots in the Yin-Yang symbol. Yin and Yang are constantly changing and cyclical like the seasons.

This concept has permeated every aspect of Chinese thought including medicine, art and government. Yin and Yang are two halves that together form the wholeness of Qi or vital energy. It is the mixing of the two energies that makes life possible and when this vital energy is appropriately balanced between Yin and Yang it flows smoothly maintaining and promoting an optimal state of physical and emotional health.

Yin is Lunar/ Tha/ negative/ feminine

Yin qualities are quiet, reflective, restorative, able to relinquish control, intuition, a stabilising influence and a good listener.

Examples in Yoga: Slower practice e.g.Yin Yoga when poses are held for longer and work on deep connective tissue and joints, Meditation and Breathing exercises or pranayama.

Yin foods are Soft: Goats cheese, sardine, alfalfa sprouts, Bok Choy, Bananas, watermelon, blackberries, citrus fruits.

Yin in nature: Dark, cold, wet, moon, midnight, hidden, dense, hard or heavy.

Yang is solar/ ha/ positive/ masculine

Yang Qualities are stimulating with lots of energy, creativity, growth, unstoppable, domineering, dominating, conscious and aware.

Examples in Yoga; The more active asanas and sun salutations that are building strength and flexibility, more dynamic breathing techniques e.g. kapalabhati or skull shining breath.

Yang foods are sharp: Peppers, chicken, beef, lamb, cinnamon tea, chai, ginger, garlic, onions, peppers, leeks, pumpkin, shallots and cherries.

Yang in nature: Light, heat, dry, sun, midday, evident, porous, soft or light.

Balancing Yin and Yang means having harmony in your world; your home, your work, your relationships. A good place to start is not going overboard with anything, be it work, emotions or pleasure. This may require a shift of your mindset in order to bring your lifestyle into synchronisation with nature and the more gentle rhythms of life. I am discovering mindfulness practices help me and I really look forward to my Podcast conversations with Mindfulness teacher Sune Markowitz-Schulman and what better place to start when faced with huge challenges than with Acceptance!

Join me to explore your natural rhythms with breath and movement in synchronisation.

The Attitudes of Mindfulness: Acceptance

Mindfulness teacher Sune Markowitz-Shulman and I are on a mission to share some simple tools and techniques that can assist us in getting to know ourselves and adopt more mindful approaches to living. Join Sune and I as we tackle the attitudes of mindfulness. This week Acceptance. Are you having trouble accepting a situation? Covid 19 has surely set us all a whole set of new challenges and my teenage son is rocking my world just now. How can acceptance help us to get through?

Watch our conversation on YouTube:

Listen to our Conversation on the Moving through Menopause Podcast Season 3



Phillipa Butler

Chartered Physiotherapist. Passionate about movement as medicine. Using pilates and yoga to mitigate the symptoms of the menopause. Contact