Despite the recent wet, cold and stormy weather, signs of Spring are becoming more apparent with each passing day. We are seeing lighter mornings and evenings, as the Yang energy (light) of Springtime increases relative to the Yin (dark) of Winter. Snowdrops, crocuses, budding trees and early daffodils can be seen in abundance. These are just some of the manifestations of the active, rising Yang energy of Spring, amidst the still, cold, Yin Winter. The YinYang symbol perfectly illustrates the nature and inter-dependence of Yin and Yang. Yin energy- dark, cold, contracting, fixed -contains within it the light, warm, expansive and moving energy of Yang, and vice versa. Yin and Yang are mutually supportive and constantly transforming into one other.
Assessment of the balance of Yin and Yang energies in the body forms the basis of Chinese Medical diagnosis and treatment. A useful analogy is that of an oil lamp. To function well, both the Yin- Oil and Yang-Flame, need to be balanced. Too much oil will dampen the flame, but an over-abundant flame will soon deplete the oil supply. Our physical, mental and emotional functioning in health and disease, can be interpreted in terms of a complex interplay of Yin and Yang. For simplicity's sake, we can view Yang as activity and Yin as rest or substance. As our body's energy is interconnected with the seasonal changes in our environment, it is natural for us to become more active as we are driven by the Yang energy of Springtime. However, as with all the seasonal transitions, we need to take extra care of our health at this time to avoid becoming injured or unwell. Common problems seen in the acupuncture and herb clinic in Spring, as Yang begins to rise, are migraines, menstrual problems and musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. If we have neglected to nourish our Yin reserves in Winter, we may begin to feel the effects in the early days of Spring. Self-care measures focus on nourishing Yin so that Yang is well-rooted and thus unlikely to cause problems. Good nutrition, rest, sleep, gentle yoga and meditation will build the Yin resources and help prevent illness and burnout. Vegetable soups and stews, kidney and black beans, walnuts and black sesame, fish and seaweeds are all excellent Yin tonics. Yin nourishing grains include barley, rice and wheat. For further information and inspiration, see 'Recipes for Self-healing' by Daverick Leggett.
Springtime outdoor activities such as gardening and hiking should be approached gently, and with adequate warm up, to avoid injury. A simple Qigong practice in the mornings will bring surprising benefits. In addition, this is an excellent time to receive acupuncture and herbal treatment to help support the body through the seasonal transition.