In our culture, we tend to highly value productivity, busyness, and achievement. This can lead to the feeling of always needed to “do” something and focussing more on the outcome rather than the process. I’m not saying these things are bad, in fact, in the right dose they can create major changes in the world for the better. However, a lifestyle that continually runs on busyness, will eventually crash in one way or another. One way to view activity and restoration is through the lens of yin and yang energy. In the most simple terms, yang energy is action oriented while yin energy is more about a state of being.
Yang energy is stimulating, energizing, warming, outward, extroverted, and bright. Yin energy is downward, introspective, cooling, introspective, and still. If you consider the yin-yang energies on a continuum, any activity will have some of both, but one may be predominant. So lets look at a practice like seated meditation. That has mostly yin qualities. A person sits in stillness observing (or trying) their thoughts— very introspective. On the other hand, going for a hike by yourself has more yang energy, because there’s movement, and it often increases the heart-rate. Participating in a sport such as soccer is predominantly yang because it’s even more active and involves other people. You get the idea.
You may already be starting to think about your daily activities. Are they cumulatively more yin or yang? Most of us are on yang overload (in many ways), so in today’s blog I’m going to focus on how to bring more quality yin energy into your life. When you have a healthy dose of quality yin practices, you feel grounded, and restored. You’re running on a “full battery.”
Before I get into the list, I do want to mention the importance of quality. There are some yin practices that may seem very yin, but they’re not high quality, meaning they don’t really restore the body. Activities such as watching tv or reading the newspaper, if done mindlessly (or because there is nothing better to do) don’t really nourish the mind and body.
Creating More Yin in Your Life:
-Meditating: it’s a gimme and my area of expertise. Not only very yin-esque, but also so good for the nervous system and brain. More on meditating here.
-Yoga Nidra: this type of relaxation (some call meditation) is done lying on the back, generally focussing on the breath or a visualization. There are classes, cd’s and Youtube videos, just google it!
-Castor Oil Packs: one of my personal faves and I wrote a whole article on it here. A yin self-care practice, also very healing for the digestive system.
-Writing: thoughtful writing, or stream-of-consciousness (let it all out, no one sees it) kinda writing.
-Laying on the Earth: another favorite of mine. Very rejuvenating. Just grab a blanket and lay outside for 15-30 minutes.
-Sitting in Nature: in a quiet place or even just outside your home— sit and relax, paying attention to the senses.
-Grounding: a very direct yin experience. I’ve interviewed expert David Nelson on this one!
-Epsom Salt Baths or Herb Baths: Very relaxing and healing on many levels. Lavender, chamomile, rose, sage, are some nice herbs to try. You can use essential oils or dried herbs.
Those are some ideas to get you started. Yin practices are important to integrate into your life, especially in fall and spring. Doing these practices are really valuable, and perhaps even life-changing. They’ll help you recharge, stay grounded, and reduce stress. See if you can integrate at least one into your life in the next few days and let me know in the comments section below which one you tried!