The concept of Yin and Yang was first introduced to the western world via eastern philosophies. Yin and Yang qualities are found in everything. They are opposing and yet complimentary forces that make up the whole. For example, day and night, they are opposite to each other, yet one cannot exist without the other. How do we determine if something is Yin or Yang? That is relative. For example, Water is Yin relative to Steam yet Water is Yang relative to Ice. The theory of Yin and Yang tells us that everything is working towards balance. Everything in the universe works towards equilibrium.
Finding an equilibrium of Yin and Yang in life seems to be one of the biggest challenges we all face as human beings.
We live mainly in a fast, yang focused world and it's interesting to note that we are often drawn to activities that have more of a yang or heating effect on the body rather than investing time in activities that are more yin in nature. Yin activities cool and slow down the metabolism whist having a calming effect on the whole body. Think of eating yoghurt or cucumbers to cool the effects in your mouth of a hot spicy curry, they both compliment and balance each other. Yoga is another example of offering the balance between Yin and Yang. Often the yoga class will begin with active movements, finishing with Shavasana to cool the whole body down and bring about a sense of equilibrium.
The definition to relaxation means something different to all of us yet it is something we all need to invest in for a healthy state of being in our ever increasing frantic world that we live in. For some of us meditative exercise such as lap swimming or long distance running challenges the physical body whist at the same time they help to put life back into perspective again. Whist these yang activities do bring about a sense of balance in life, finding time to flop and completely let go also puts life back into perspective again.
Holistic therapy and body work can be classified as a yin practice and may help with life coping mechanisms for stress. Often relaxation and re-balancing body work is associated with a treatment we have when we are on holiday or as a once-off pampering treat rather than considering the treatment as a monthly maintenance program. The correlation between stress and disease has been proven many times over and there are many research programs and articles to support this. Having a regular massage is one option amongst many other stress busting techniques such as creative pursuits or spending quality time with loved ones. Investing time in activities that nurture the whole body assists all of us in bringing equilibrium to the yin and yang in life. The chosen activities are not a guarantee that we won't fall prey to disease yet they are a path towards a more stress free, balanced life.
By Ruth Marxen