Yin and Yang energy are the two principle building blocks of Chinese medicine theory, every aspect of everything can be described in terms of Yin and Yang qualities. Yang energy is more active, more vibrant; it is heat, motion, brightness and associated with the functioning aspects of the body. In contrast, Yin energy has a nature of stillness, coolness, darkness, it takes form as the more physical aspects the body. Yin and Yang energy work together to create life, one cannot exist without the other; for long term health and wellness, we need both to exist in harmony and balance.
Summer is the most Yang season of the year in Chinese medicine theory; it is the season of Fire, brightness and warmth with an underlying sense of interconnectedness. In contrast, Winter is the most Yin season, a season of coldness and darkness, the season to hunker down and take pleasure from opportunities for peace and stillness. Summer offers the best opportunities to build Yang energy in the system through our lifestyle choices. One of the simplest ways to activate our Yang energy is through sunshine; spend a little time in the earlier or later parts of the day in the sun so your system can soak up some of the sun’s rays which encourages the production of vitamin D in the skin. Vitamin D is essential for a healthy immune system; the body is designed to build up stores of vitamin D over the Summer months which should carry us through the darker days of winter – now is the time to be consciously stocking up on this vital vitamin.
According to the Chinese medicine theories, the healthiest routine for the Summer is to rise early, nap in the middle of the day and settle later in the evening. While that routine may not fit well with a 9-5 work pattern, it is something that could be adopted for weekends and days off and brings with it the natural benefits of living in harmony with the seasons.
In each season there is an emphasis on one particular Organ, and the Organ for the Summer season is the Heart. The Heart is associated with the emotion of joy and the sound of laughter, it brings a sense of interconnectedness and sociability to the soul. The Heart energy can be supported by making time in your diary for social events, even if time feels short, try to devote some of it to connecting with friends and loved ones for some light-hearted fun and laughter during these long days and warm evenings.
If you have opportunities for social times, but not the inclination, it could mean that your Heart energy is out of balance. This would be a good time of year to address that imbalance with some acupuncture, taking advantage of the energy of the season to support the treatment and help to nourish the Yang aspect of your system.
At this extremely Yang time of the year, it is also worth paying a little extra attention to supporting the deeper Yin energies which can become exhausted by the heat and the social whirl of Summer. Eat less meat, less fatty and fried foods and choose cooling foods such as lettuce, cucumber and watercress, or add mint and parsley and sliced cucumber to a pitcher of cool water and sip this through the day to keep nourishing the Yin.