According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) yin deficiency is associated with the signs of aging such as dry hair and skin, stiff joints, and weak lower backs and knees. I don’t know about you, but this cold winter weather has me really identifying with that description!
You’re probably familiar with the concept of yin and yang, the balancing of polarities in ourselves and the universe. Modern life is overtly yang in that it’s fast paced, active, outward looking, and stimulating. In order to balance all that activity (mental as much as physical), we need time spent focusing inwards, nourishing our yin aspects. This yin part of our nature is what makes the body including skin and joints ‘juicy’, well lubricated, and gives us the ability to maintain calm and strength as we adapt to the changes around us.
There’s a particular focus on kidney yin in TCM, as it’s said to be where all our yin originates. This makes me think of the adrenal glands that sit above the kidneys, pumping out stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are fabulous in acute stress, can provide natural pain relief, bring down inflammation, and help us react fast when we need to. But as most of us experience, chronic stress is a different story. ‘Running on adrenaline’ is not sustainable, and propping our energy up with caffeine and stimulants just adds to the depletion of our yin.
Sometimes it seems counterintuitive –as if when we’re tired, we must be lacking yang, the hot, active energy. It’s true that one way to remedy the fatigue that arises from sedentary living, is to get moving and be more active. However the wisdom of TCM suggests that the dynamic yang fire, requires yin substance to burn. So even if you feel yang deficient (tired, apathetic), building your yin within is the best foundation for lasting energy.
Some health conditions are depicted as clear yin deficiencies. Menopause is one example where there’s general dryness, night sweats, insomnia, and for some people anxiety, dizziness and tinnitus, all considered signs of yin deficiency in TCM. Of course some of these can occur when we’re not going through menopause too.
So whether you have an active lifestyle, a busy mind, or just general stress, there’s so many reasons to build your yin. Support your energy and create a foundation to achieve your dreams, by nourishing yourself with yin yoga.
The slow approach of yin yoga, with long held postures, supported by soft bolsters, getting down on the ground, minimising stimulation through the senses, all of this allows yin to build. It’s a true, deep rest for body and soul.