So much of Chinese philosophy is grounded in balancing yin and yang, and this goes for exercise too. Often times if we are a yang personality, or we’ve had a particularly stressful day, we are drawn to more energetic forms of exercise.
Getting the heart rate pumping and endorphins up seems to help relieve tension. But when our attention is focused on just one form of energy, we can start to feel depleted, frazzled, and less able to handle the everyday issues life throws our way.
Each day we should be seeking to keep our mental and physical states in balance. Check in with yourself and weigh up how you feel.
A well balanced day would mean you have woken from a restful sleep feeling refreshed and ready to go. You have a good appetite for healthy food and your digestion doesn’t bother you. You notice high levels of concentration and focus though out the day and experience a good reserve of energy in the evening. You are ready for rest around 10-10.30pm when you fall asleep easily ready to start the cycle again. Wouldn’t it be nice if every day was like this?!?
It seems to be so hard with our crazy lifestyles to get the balance, supporting our bodies through adequate diet, rest and exercise to keep them functioning at optimum capacity. Learning to listen to our bodies, knowing what our tendencies for excess or deficiency are and how to bring it all back to balance helps increase our number of high functioning days.
An overly yin day in need of some yang would be where you are feeling sluggish and unmotivated. It’s a struggle to get out of bed and your hands and feet may be feeling cold. Getting the heart pumping and the qi flowing with some dynamic yang style of exercise can help warm you up and make you feel energised.
Examples of yang exercise are running, cycling or swimming at high capacity, weight, interval or circuit training and those crazy boot camp sessions. Yang workouts can also be mentally challenging, so you could try things like tricky dance classes or martial arts.
A yang day would be a high stress day, one that required a lot of fiery energy or hard labour that has left you strung out or depleted. You may be a bit of an extrovert who likes to keep busy and has a hard time winding down. Partaking in more yin style exercise will help calm the body, bringing peace to a hectic day.
Great examples of yin exercise include Tai Chi, long walks, relaxing swims, stretching, restorative yoga, and meditation. These will leave you feeling more rejuvenated instead of depleted.
Listening to your body, especially when you are trying to conceive, will help decide what forms of exercise would be best for you. If you are menstruating or in the first few weeks of pregnancy choosing yin forms of exercise would be wise, keeping the energy output to no more that 70% of your normal capacity. Outside of these times choosing yang forms of exercise is totally fine if that’s what your body wants.
Just remember over exercising depletes energy, under exercising stagnates energy.
Aim for a harmonious balance of yin and yang energy each day for better mind-body health. And don’t forget that acupuncture is a fantastic way to boost your athletic performance and speed up recovery.