The Yin and Yang of Life

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.

Yin 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.

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

Let’s talk Science

The notion of energy in all things, animate and inanimate can be a little hard to grasp, but even in a solid, the particles are moving. They are packed together too strongly to allow movement from place to place but the particles do vibrate about their position in the structure. The particles in a liquid are close together (touching) but they are able to move past each other whereas the particles in a gas are fast moving and able to spread apart from each other. This has been illustrated many times on the TV lately as we observe the simulations of the spread of a cough or sneeze.

Breath and breathing has been on the agenda this week at Precizion and I attach a link to an amazing conversation with microbiologist Michael Graz. Michael has a career divided between developing life-changing small molecule drugs and medical devices and in his spare time competes in endurance events with his wife.

For over a decade he has been active in life sciences in the UK. Amongst other projects he is working on point-of-care diagnostics using breath analysis which lends itself to non-invasive Covid testing among other things. We also chatted about his micro-needle plaster for the self administration of vaccines with a variety of applications across the world no less. I couldn’t resist getting his views on the gut microbiome and ways we might nourish it for the better.

I am grateful to Michael for this opportunity to indulge my fascination for new technologies and how we will be harnessing them in the not too distant future.

Watch our conversation and subscribe to my channel to stay in the loop.

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