Even though it’s sunny here in the bay area and we’ve been seeing signs of the coming spring, we are still technically in the midst of winter. As spring comes we’ll start to see more activity and growth and I’m super excited for it. Even so, I want to discuss the importance of nourishing yin, because a) winter is a very yin time of year and b) nourishing yin is important year round.
So, what is yin? Yin qualities are those such as cool, dark, solid, soft, receptive, quiet, heavy, wet, nourishing, slow, passive, downward and inward. In the context of nature some examples of things that are yin include night time, rich dark soil, the shadowy side of a mountain and bodies of water (especially still water). In the context of our bodies, examples of yin include blood (nourishment), structural components such as the skeleton and cellular structure, the front side of the body and internal organs. When we are resting, meditating or moving slowly we are practicing yin activities. In contrast, when we are being very active or loud or moving quickly, these would be considered yang in nature.
It’s important to note that within everything yin, there is a little bit of yang and within everything yang, there is a little bit of yin. An example of this is would be a body of water. Water itself is very yin in nature-cold, dark and deep. However, its movement (ripples, currents and waves) would be considered yang in nature.
The world we live in tends to applaud yang actives such as being super productive, working long hours, going out and having fun. These things are normal aspects of life when done in moderation but when yang is in excess, it can manifest as anxiety, frustration and excessive behaviors that aren’t healthy. Because the world often pushes us to be very yang, it’s important to find balance by slowing down sometimes. In fact, I’m convinced that living in a slower, more thoughtful way where we act with intention is one of the keys to happiness.
If you’re someone who has a lot of yang energy and maybe not making enough room for the yin aspects of life, then you can benefit from these ideas no matter the time of year.
Make sure you make time for adequate sleep at night, go to bed before 11pm if possible and take time for rest during the day as well.
2. Move slowly and with intention
As easy as it is to get caught up in hustle, making a mindful effort to slow down and move through the day with intention can help to nourish our bodies and minds.
3. Practice yin yoga and meditation
These are great ways to incorporate rest into your day because not only is your body moving more slowly, but these practices will also help to calm your racing thoughts. Even just 2-3 minutes of taking long, slow breaths can be helpful.
4. Spend time in nature
Look at the trees, feel the soil beneath your feet, walk on the wet sand at the beach, smell the amazing smells and hear the amazing sounds of nature. These things bring us back to a place of peace and groundedness. Luckily here in the bay area we’re surrounded by nature so it’s not hard to make this happen!
5. Eat foods that nourish yin
Seaweed, oysters, pears, tofu, eggs, yogurt, avocado, asparagus, artichokes, aloe vera, black beans and kidney beans. Blood building foods such as red meat, beets, red dates and goji berries or other dark berries and dark leafy greens are all important as well because Blood is a yin substance.