The Yin and Yang of Exercise

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yin and yang

The balance of yin and yang is a key factor in creating a healthy mind, body and spirit. Yang is excitable energy, uplifting, hot, brightness, and swift movements. Yin is calm energy, static, cold, solid, darkness, and rest.

Generally, exercise is yang oriented with fast-paced spin classes, boot camp workouts, heavy lifts, and sprint training. All of which uplift your energy, quicken your heart rate, and leave you drenched in sweat and experiencing those feel-good endorphins for the rest of your day.

In order to recreate balance in your physical and mental body, it is important not to neglect the yin aspect of your training. If all activities are fast-paced movements, the foundation of the body becomes overworked and unable to recover from workouts, leading to injuries and burnout. In Chinese medicine, this is described as too much yang consuming the yin. This may lead to symptoms of fatigue, dehydration, difficulty sleeping, stress, anxiety, emotional upset and frustration, and lowered immunity. These are signs that you need to take extra steps to restore balance in your body.

Here are some ways to bring yin and balance into your daily life:

Restorative or Yin Yoga

This type of yoga has longer, static holds in each position. If you engage in more yang exercise the thought of this may make you squirm, but the practice will go deep into the muscles, tendons, and connective tissue to relax tension.

Meditation

This helps to calm the mind and body, and bring awareness back into the “self”. Including a daily practice of deep relaxation with breath awareness helps us learn how to become more aware of what we are feeling emotionally, thus helps us understand what we need to do to keep ourselves happy, balanced and in good physical, mental and emotional health.

Rest

Proper rest between workouts and sleeping 7-8 hours per night are key factors in replenishing the yin in the body and will help you recover fully.

Hydration and Nutrition

Fluid is part of Yin. It is important to hydrate before, during and after exercise in addition to eating a nutritious diet full of dark leafy greens, a variety of colourful vegetables and fruit and avoiding over stimulating foods such as refined sugars, alcohol and caffeine.

Massage

Regular massage has numerous benefits. It aids in relaxing muscle tension, calming the mind, preventing injuries and speeding up muscle recovery.

Tai Chi or Qi Gong

These are regulated breathing techniques with slow movements that remove energy blockages in the body to restore the balance of yin and yang. When done regularly tai qi and qi gong have multiple health benefits of energizing the body and clearing the mind.

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