In Chinese Medicine, Yin connotes stillness, coolness, and conservation of energy. You are in a Yin state of being if you feel calm, relaxed, gentle, accepting, patient, slow, intellectually objective and detached, and self-indulgent or self-nurturing. You breathe slowly and deeply when you are in a Yin state.
In Chinese Medicine, Yang connotes activity, heat and the burning of energy to create motion, transformation and change. You are in a Yang state of being if you feel time-pressured, excited, challenged, competitive, intensely focused, accurate, goal-oriented, self-controlled, disciplined, tense, exerting, hot or sweating. You breathe fast, or your breathing becomes more shallow and erratic when you are in a Yang state.
Yin and Yang are both necessary for life growth, and transformation. However, in today’s world, there exists an imbalance between the Yin and Yang aspects of our lives.
In the July 2013 issue of Acupuncture Today (Vol. 14, Issue 07), Los Angeles acupuncturist Douglas Kihn cites a graph published in 2006 by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention which shows that the rate of obesity began to spike in the US in the late 1970’s, and has continued to grow ever since. This correlates with decades of falling wages and increased worker productivity. In other words, Americans fortunate enough to have jobs are working harder and faster. And, most people are feeling less secure economically.
Many other changes have occurred since the 1970’s. For example: 1) The undisciplined use of computers and other digital devices keeps us in a constant state of overstimulation and information overload. 2) The use of digital devices, computers, and other artificial sources of night time light disrupt melatonin production and mess up our sleep quality and quantity. As a result, people are suffering from sleep deficits, chronic fatigue, and other sleep disorders in record numbers. 3) Fast food and eating on the run replace sit-down meals. 4) Climate change: the actual warming of our planet due to the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities is itself a symptom of excessive Yang.
In order to cope in this world, many people use food to feel calm, safe and tranquilized…in other words, to become more Yin. Unfortunately, the Yin (fat, phlegm, dampness) you accumulate from being a stressed out and unconscious eater creates stagnation and toxicity in your body. This stagnant Yin winds up being just one more heavy load of stress your body and mind must deal with.
The solution is to learn to worry and hurry less, to make sleep and rest a priority, and to become reacquainted with the subtle stirrings of your body and mind via breathing exercises, meditation, and the like. These things increase healthy Yin. Receiving an acupuncture treatment can re-set your body and mind so that you feel calmer and better able to distinguish between hunger and satiety. I have had many patients lose weight relatively effortlessly with acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and small dietary and lifestyle changes.