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Ways To Balance Yin And Yang In Your Daily Life

Ways To Balance Yin And Yang In Your Daily Life

Let me start this article with a big universal truth: 95% of things you’ll hear about Eastern philosophy, energy, meditation, and similar “esoteric” topics is utter unsubstantiated nonsense, propagated by charlatans, mostly Westerners at that, who want to further their own agenda and/or swindle some cash from you. There, I’m glad we got that out of the way right off the bat.

Another thing I’d like to point out is that you can actually reap a lot of benefits by applying some of the core teachings related to Yin and Yang energy, even if you are not a spiritual person, simply because most of these principles were discovered through good old-fashioned trial and error. The Chinese have a beautiful way of explaining complex concepts, but, as with any ancient teaching, you’ll find a certain amount of overgeneralization, instances where correlation is equated to causation, and some logical leaps.

Forget about the narrative and focus on what works

Long story short, thanks to millennia of scientific advancement, we now know a whole lot more than the ancient genius philosophers did about the way the human body and the physical world around us works, so the old wisdom should be taken with a grain of salt.

I pride myself in being a pragmatic person who doesn’t like to “take someone’s word for it,” but I’ll also take empirical data over pure speculation any day of the week. This is why I have dabbled in things like meditation, Qigong, natural medicine, and Eastern philosophy, and it’s also why I’ve been known to quote the Bible on occasion, even though I am an atheist. If there are sound principles that work within a belief system, I don’t care about the flowery narrative that is used to explain them to people.

I’ve heard everyone from gypsy fortune tellers to certified medical doctors talk about the negative effects of an imbalance within the body and how the mind can affect the body – which boils down to stress, poor nutrition, bad habits, lack of quality sleep, lack of physical activity, or too much of a certain kind of activity – and have found that everyone recommends pretty much the same things.

Some call it energy, some use fancy Latin, but the truth is, the Yin and Yang analogy is the most efficient way to get the point across. If you want to be healthy and happy, you need to bring balance into your life.

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The characteristics of Yin and Yang energies

It is said that, due to the hectic and predominantly sedentary modern lifestyle, most people today tend to be more Yin, but the prevalent energy in your life will depend on a number of lifestyle factors. Here is a basic distinction between Yin and Yang:

  • Traits associated with Yin energy: feminine, passive, cold, dark, negative, inward, soft, down, back.
  • Traits associated with Yang energy: masculine, active, hot, light, positive, outward, hard, up, front.

1. Eliminate heavily processed foods from your diet

Our ancestors believed that we were, quite literally, what we ate – the hunter who got the kill was awarded the heart and liver so that he might absorb the physical attributes and health of the animal he had hunted down. This idea is not too far off base – you won’t start jumping like a gazelle or sprout buffalo horns, but you will get a ton of micronutrients from these organs, as well as things like creatine and protein, which play a major role in building muscle tone and keeping the body in optimal shape.

Heavily processed foods offer very little in terms of essential nutrients, but they are packed with fat and salt. If you see the words “trans fat” or “hydrogenated vegetable oil,” stay away from those products, and focus healthy ingredients that require some preparation, e.g. fresh meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, vegetables, fruit, seeds, and nuts.

2. Invest in effective Feng Shui to balance the energies in your home

Even those that don’t really believe in the power of feng shui, myself included, cannot deny the harmonious beauty and utility of an interior that has been designed with feng shui in mind. For me, it has always been a good set of guidelines for interior décor, as opposed to arbitrary rules of style that keep changing as new fads appear.

Our environment has an incredible impact on our psyche. You should start by choosing the right exterior door, as it is the gateway for the energy entering the home and the first thing people see when entering your home. Make sure that you have enough space inside to move around freely, and that everything is positioned in a way that allows a free flow of energy, and be mindful of shapes and colors.

3. Keep track of your macro nutrient intake

Just staying away from junk food isn’t quite enough to create a good yin yang balance within the body. You have to be mindful of the amounts of macro nutrients you are taking in, i.e. keep track of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. A good balance between these three nutrients will help your body function at optimal levels, but it can vary depending on your lifestyle and whether or not you are on a diet. You’ll need to experiment a bit to find what works best for you.

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4. Eat plenty of diverse vegetables and fruit throughout the week

A balanced diet is essential for balancing the yin and yang energies within your body. Too much of one micronutrient can block the absorption of another or have a directly negative effect on the body. The easiest way to ensure that you have a truly diverse diet is to try and eat veggies and fruit of every different color throughout the week – red berries, carrots, and darker berries all have a good amount of antioxidants, but they all have a different form of antioxidant, and have different amounts of other micronutrients.

5. Get your finances in order and put some money aside

Financial issues are one of the main causes of stress in people’s lives, but if we dig deeper under the surface we tend to find a host of underlying issues that cause us to be careless with our money. We tend to overindulge in small hedonistic pleasures from the moment that paycheck arrives, and then turn to payday loans when things get tough, which only makes things worse for us in the long run.

The problem here is an abject lack of happiness in our lives – something is missing and we try to fill the void with food, drinks, and shiny objects. By forcing yourself to cut expenses and save up, you get a clear idea of which things are nonessential, and you can work on fixing the emotional or other issues that are causing you to throw your money away on temporary fixes.

6. Limit your alcohol and drug intake

The liver is considered to be a naturally more yin organ, but our lifestyle often puts a lot of stress on it, e.g. through excessive drinking and drug abuse, and we boost the yang aspect. This can create a significant imbalance and lead to increased irritability, as well as a number of health problems. It is one of the most common causes of an energy imbalance, and is also quite an easy fix, at least in theory. You just have to kick your bad habits and either limit yourself to 1-2 servings of your favorite alcoholic beverage a day or give it up altogether.

Light drugs like marijuana tend to numb the mind, making us passive, and are thus yin in nature, but this may not be best way for your body to rest if you are already overly yin. Hard drugs should be avoided like the plague, for obvious reasons.

A huge disclaimer before we move on: if you have mental health or serious physical health issues, consult a doctor and follow his or her advice, don’t try to self-medicate with “natural remedies” or meditate your troubles away.

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7. Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise

The heart is the engine that drives our bodies, and we tend to abuse it on a daily basis. Too much yang, and you’ll have problems with high blood pressure and rapid heartbeat, too much yin and you’ll have poor circulation and higher risk of blood clots.

Stimulants like coffee should be taken in moderation, or avoided altogether if you have problems with erratic heartbeat, but even those with more serious heart problems can benefit from light steady state cardio exercises, e.g. long walks at a relaxed pace.

Those in good health can do cycling, running, or swimming three times a week in addition to this to strengthen the cardiovascular system and balance the yin and yang energies in the heart.

8. Strengthen your muscles to speed up your metabolism

Extra muscle mass on the body, if you train smart and keep everything balanced, can help improve posture and boost your metabolism. Although lean muscle won’t exactly burn hundreds of calories just sitting there, the body will burn a decent amount just to maintain the extra muscle. The additional training needed to put on extra muscle will also improve blood circulation, strengthen connective tissue and even improve bone density. However, you must not overexert yourself or focus solely on building strength, as this can cause an overabundance of yang energy.

9. Know which activities are Yin or Yang-based

As long as you combine strength training, which is yang, with exercises like stretching or yoga, which are yin in nature, you will create a good balance. This is actually a sound principle – you need to warm up properly before each intense session, and the body needs to be stretched, cooled down, and rested properly to avoid burning out. Too much yang, i.e. powerful and intense exercises, can lead to low blood sugar, insomnia, aching joints and a number of other problems. This is why you should combine both and spread out your yin and yang activities throughout the week.

10. Go to bed earlier and have a good night’s sleep

Not only will getting enough sleep on a day-to-day basis improve your concentration, but it will also allow your body to regenerate, regulate hormones, and create a good balance between yin and yang. It is also best to go to bed earlier, so that you can wake up near dawn and sync your body with the natural daily yin yang cycle.

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11. Take a short walk in the morning with the first rays of the sun

Our bodies need the sun to create vitamin D, which is essential for bone health in both men and women, as well as maintaining sufficiently high testosterone levels in men. A short morning walk combines several useful aspects into a single activity – you get plenty of sun and fresh air, you do some light cardio and you tap into that yang energy that is more prevalent during the first six hours after sunrise. It is a great way to wake up and warm up the body and prepare it for the busy day ahead.

12. Avoid “detoxes” and other ill-advised health and fitness fads

We’ve already stressed the importance of a balanced diet, but I have to warn you against “cleanses” and “detoxes” or any similar nonsense. Subjecting your body to extreme fasting, where you only drink a specific juice, tonic, or a unique brand of New Age snake oil, and eat nothing, or next to nothing, is not a smart move. It will only lead to micronutrient deficiencies and make you weak.

Your body already has systems in place for expelling toxins – through sweat, urination, and bowel movements – and it adapts really quickly to a healthy diet, so there is absolutely nothing to gain from these “detoxes.” You only risk creating an even greater imbalance within your body and developing eating disorders with such methods.

13. Meditate or engage in internal forms of martial arts

A good way to ensure that you are stimulating yin energy is to take up an activity that is simple and fun, and doesn’t take a lot of time. Meditation is the perfect solution, as you can reap huge benefits with just a 10-20 minute session a day. You can also do internal martial arts like Tai Chi, Baguazhang, or Xing Yi (Hsing-I), which place great importance on the yin side of things, but also have a yang component, at least the styles that have retained the effective combat components. These will teach you how to build up and release energy effectively and will promote a good yin yang balance in the body.

14. Get more loving physical contact from those close to you

We might not be aware of this, but that good old-fashion physical contact is very important in keeping our energies in balance. When you hug someone who is dear to you there is a huge surge in dopamine and oxytocin, hormones that relieve pain and cause a feeling of blissfulness. Since we are under a lot of stress throughout the day, we need these little moments of utter joy and relaxation to calm our mind and allow the body to counteract all that pent up adrenaline. In more esoteric terms, you need that positive energy to balance out all the negative energy that builds up.

15. Don’t wait for the world to give you something — fight for yourself

Waiting for handouts, or for the world to give you “what you deserve” is the fastest way to become complacent and tilt the energy scales to the yin side. Yin energy is passive, inward, and if you start becoming a hermit who sits at home and mopes, it will negatively impact your career, social and love life, as well as your psychological health. You need to take more action and tap into your yang potential – seize the moment, work on fixing problems straight away, and just generally be more active throughout the day.

There will be days when you’ll be running around like crazy, but after you’ve dealt with the biggest issues on your to-do list, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the blissful yin-centric periods of rest and recuperation with a book, video game, or a cup of coffee with a close friend.

Don’t let anyone tell you that balancing the yin and yang in your life is a quick fix, or that it is something incredibly mystical and spiritual. There are a lot of sound scientific principles involved in this process, and it takes a lot of dedication to create good habits and find balance. Try out some of these tips, and give them a few months to really start to work – you’ll see a positive change soon enough.

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Nemanja Manojlovic

Editor at MyCity Web

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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