It’s all about the balance

Rachel Farber Wellness autumn-equinox It's all about the balance  santa cruz acupuncture

It’s all about the balance

On the occasion of the Autumn Equinox, I’d like to share a bit of overflow with you from the Autumn Reset. We are two weeks into our three week program and this is a really fun time of the Reset. People have settled in and are generally feeling great! These are some comments we’ve had lately:

“I have more energy through my day.”

“I’m sleeping better than I have in years.”

“My mood is positive and I’m not snappy with my family.”

“I want to live like this always.”

It’s funny how at this point in the Reset, we realize that we are actually living and eating the way we want to be living and eating. When we clear out distractions and negative patterns of thought and realize all the ways we numb ourselves, we are left with no choice but to choose our activities, associations and yes, meals, with the best intentions.

The diet isn’t strict. We cut out refined flours and gluten, dairy, alcohol, sugar and limit caffeine, which can seem harsh at first as we get of our go-to convenience foods. By two weeks in, however, most people adapt and get in the habit of keeping nourishing food around.

There’s also a lot of information presented. This fall we’ve so far addressed how the adrenal system and cortisol production occur, had some seminars on basic Chinese medicine theory and also jumped into how the precepts of yoga offer simple guidelines for daily life.

Since it’s the equinox and this time of year is all about balance, I wanted to share with you a tidbit from one of our self-study sessions, this one about Yin and Yang. I hope you enjoy!

Yin and Yang

Chinese medicine has many layers of theories. One of the most basic separates everything into the duality of yin and yang. The two constructs represent the dual nature of life; they can’t exist without one another and they each define the other by representing the opposite. Yin is the dark, descending, contracting energy and yang is the light, ascending, expanding energy. The following comparisons illustrate qualities of yin and yang and their relative nature:

yang

yin

sun

moon

masculine

feminine

heaven

earth

immaterial

material

expanding

contracting

ascending

descending

bright

dark

above

below

fire

water

hot

cold

fast

slow

external

internal

noon

midnight

dry

wet

People can also be relatively yin and yang to each other in personality and body type. For example, a tall guy with a bright red face, loud voice and aggressive body movements is displaying an active yang. He might suffer from heat symptoms such as acid regurgitation, alternating constipation and diarrhea and heartburn. Contrast this with an older plump woman who has excessive yin: she has cold hands and feet, a bloated belly, watery bowel movements, and dark circles under her eyes. There are many specific tools in Chinese medicine that can help pinpoint more details about particular cases, but just looking at the relationship between yin and yang generally gives clue how to proceed.

There is also a balance of yin and yang within each individual. Symptoms of bloating, weight gain, sluggishness, chilliness and fatigue, could reflect too much yin relative to yang. (Or not enough yang relative to yin.) Restlessness, agitation, and tendency to fevers, cold sores, or insomnia suggest a predomination of yang. Since they are interdependent, in practice there is often a complex relationship between yin and yang that requires close observation to sort out physical and emotional symptoms.

“Yin is quiet, Yang is active. Yang gives life, Yin makes it grow…Yang is transformed into Qi, Yin is transformed into material life.” (Giovanni Macciocia)

When applied to the body, the areas of Yin and Yang are as follows:

yang

yin

exterior

interior

posterior

anterior

back

front

above the waist

below the waist

Yang organs

Yin organs

function of organs

structure of organs

Qi

Blood-Body Fluids

The chart above applies to location in the body. Yang and Yin also have manifestations of qualities, signs and symptoms that help make sense of the patterns at work. This chart breaks down some of the important ones.

yang

yin

hot

cold

restless

quiet

dry

wet

hard

soft

 

yang

yin

acute symptoms

chronic disease

rapid changes

lingering symptoms

insomnia

lethargy and sleepiness

likes cold drinks

likes hot drinks

loud voice

soft voice

thirsty

not thirsty

constipation

loose stools

red tongue

pale tongue

strong pulse

weak pulse

The relative proportions of Yin and Yang offer a look at how the body is functioning. It is a simple way of taking stock of basic factors such as heat/cold, excess/ deficiency and internal/external that can help understand what kind of support a person needs. It is the simplest of Chinese medical theories, yet encompasses the continually evolving nature of every living thing.

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