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Posted on 08-19-2015

Yin and Yang:  Not Just a Cool Lower Back Tattoo ;)

There’s only so much juice you can squeeze out of an orange.  Our bodies are no different.  It’s certainly not a bottomless well of ‘go-juice.’  Oftentimes in our modern society, we treat it that way.  We just keep squeezing hoping we have enough juice for another day.  What we put out everyday never seems to equal what we do to rest and recover.  This philosophy of Yin and Yang is thousands of years old and represents balance in this respect: out going energy equals in-going energy.  Open a magazine (obviously you have).  We are provoked everyday to go farther, push harder, and dig deeper.  It’s even the slogan of certain companies or products.  The booming energy drink industry in evidence of this as well.  “It gives you wings!”  Sound familiar?  

The outward going energy: going to work, training, helping others is considered Yang energy.  Anytime you stay up late, drink caffeine, or eat something sugary we are stimulating our sympathetic nervous system to work harder.  Remember the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for our fight, flight, or freeze responses.  This is our ‘get up and go’ system.  It allows us to push hard and even harder.  A lot of us can relate to this as our ‘normal’ way of doing things.  Interestingly, this energy system is also know as the ‘Male’ energy. 

The Yin energy is the inward flowing support we need to rest and relax.  Our parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for this activity.  Sleeping fully and deeply for eight plus hours each night, taking a bath, eating fresh vegetables all support this system.  When we take a day or two off of training each week, this allows our bodies to recover physically.  When we take a breather during a stressful time, this helps us to calm down and gain perspective.  This is the power of the Yin energy cycle in the human body.  It is often our missing ingredient in an otherwise Yang day and is also known as the ‘Female’ side of the energy scale.

You can see that we, as a culture, are a Yang society.  We go and go until something tragic slows us down.  We no longer listen to our bodies language of signs and symptoms to slow down and recover.  We simply take a pill to quell the body’s cries for help.  We gulp caffeine until our cries for rest and sleep are only a faint whimper.  It is well understood that we are the most under-vacationed modern nation on earth.  I believe this is a major reason we have such a propensity for injury and degenerative health conditions in our country.  We do not have enough Yin.

The moral of the tale of the balance of the Yin and Yang is not simply moderation in all things.  We need more Yin in our bodies and society.  It is obvious we need more rest.  It’s obvious we need more relaxation.  What we must also recognize is not to push ourselves over the edge at every opportunity.  It is useful to push ourselves.  Look around at your life and at society.  See what has been accomplished by doing so.  Also, observe that we need to make room for periods of intense downtime and reflection.  We would all be much more satisfied with what we see in our lives and community by doing so.

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