Chances are you’ve heard of yin yang energy, but what exactly do they mean, and how can you balance yin yang energy within?
Based on ancient Taoist philosophy, the concept of the yin yang symbol and energy is said to originate from around 700 BCE. But they are just as relevant to life today.
Yin and yang energy are different terms for feminine and masculine energy. This has nothing to do with gender—we all have feminine and masculine energy within us, and we need both to feel centered and balanced.
The yin yang symbol
The yin yang symbol is well-known around the world.
In a circle can be found two teardrop shapes. One is black (yin energy), and the other is white (yang energy). The curved teardrop-shaped line symbolizes the duality and interdependence of yin and yang.
Within each teardrop shape is a small dot of the opposite color. In the black teardrop, there is a dot of white (yang); in the white teardrop, there is a dot of black (yin). This symbolizes that there is always some yin within yang and vice versa, as well as the potential for change and transformation.
The yin yang symbol represents the duality and nature of our entire universe.
What is yin energy?
Yin energy represents:
What is yang energy?
Yang energy represents:
Yang is masculine energy. It is light, active, expansive, and associated with the sun and the element of fire.
You’ll notice that we currently live in a society that celebrates these yang (masculine) qualities and ignores and suppresses the yin (feminine qualities), but life was not always this way. Both have their own gifts, and we need both.
Yin vs. yang energy
Yin and yang are complementary opposing energies that are both connected and interdependent. They are the perfect example of duality here on Earth. We cannot have light without dark. There is no good without bad. Without cold, there is no heat.
If you practice yoga, you may be aware of yin yoga, which is a more passive, feminine, reflective style of yoga that involves holding postures for a few minutes and working into the connective tissues. In contrast, sun salutations, hatha, and vinyasa are more yang styles of yoga and are more active and warm.
It’s no surprise that these yang-style yoga practices are more common and popular—this is another example of how we live in a society that celebrates masculine energy and ignores the feminine.
Examples of yin yang energy
- Shadow and light
- Night and day
- Sun and moon
- Fire and water
- North and south
- Good and bad
When there’s an imbalance
In ancient Chinese medicine, imbalances and illnesses in the body are said to be caused by an imbalance in yin and yang energy.
We can see a universal imbalance in the way yang (masculine) energy and qualities are placed above yin (feminine) ones.
Taking action, productivity, and physical strength are praised, while being, reflecting, and taking time for stillness are not. The sun is worshiped, and we live on a solar calendar, while the moon and her lunar calendar are mostly ignored (even though it correlates to our internal rhythm as women). We continue to develop the world, build more, and accumulate wealth, but with little regard for the planet and environment.
This imbalance within and without creates disharmony and physical and mental dis-ease.
How to balance yin and yang energy
I hope it’s clear by now that there is no “better” when it comes to yin energy and yang energy. Both are needed for wholeness and balance. Our mission is to incorporate both into our daily lives and ensure we’re not leaning too heavily into one.
This is challenging, given the patriarchal society we live in. But knowing the value of both is the first step to transforming our relationship with yin and yang and finding balance.
1. Check in with yourself
The first step to balance yin yang energy is to pause and notice whether you tend to lean more into the yin energy of passivity and contraction or more into the yang energy of taking action and doing.
In most work environments, it’s common to lean more into your yang. But when you leave work, it can be difficult to shift back into your yin and take off the corporate suit.
If this resonates with you, try and move your energy toward more yin practices when you get home. For example, taking deep breaths, meditating, going for a walk outside (or even planting your feet on the grass in your back garden). You could also curl up with a cup of tea, journal, or give yourself five minutes to simply sit and do nothing. Often, we find this incredibly hard to do because we’re taught to go go go.
If you’re too much in the yin vibe and need to cultivate more yang energy, start setting goals for yourself and breaking them down into smaller, achievable steps. Engage in high-energy activities like running, sun salutations, and weight lifting.
Too many of us are dealing with stress and burnout from over-exerting ourselves at work and home. We feel like we have to be and do it all. There’s no room to slow down and take a breath. But we need to.
While outward, material success is important, it’s equally important to rest and refill your well. Don’t push yourself past your limits because it will only result in illness.
3. Move your body
Some of us go straight from a full day at work to an intense workout at the gym, or we wake up far too early in the morning just so we can squeeze a run in before driving the kids to school. Exercise is great, but not if it’s coming at the expense of quality sleep each night and not if it’s exerting your body when all your body wants is to do something low-tempo.
So check in with what your body wants and needs. Find a balance of more yin energy exercises (yin yoga, gentle swimming, walking) and yang energy exercises (running, weightlifting, vinyasa yoga).
Try and weave exercises like this throughout your day rather than blocking it in for just one hour.
4. Eat the right foods
I don’t believe in slimming or restrictive diets and favor an intuitive eating approach. One of the best ways to balance yin yang energy is to eat seasonally and avoid processed foods.
Our ancestors always ate seasonally because there was no mass-food production, so they were forced to. But there’s a reason why nature provides what it does when it does. Nature is a lot smarter than we are!
In the warmer summer months, it makes sense to consume cooling yin foods like watermelon, cucumber, and strawberries to cool you down. In the colder winter months, it’s better to consume warming yang foods like ginger and wasabi.
If you’re unsure about the energetic properties of a certain food, pay attention to how it makes you feel after eating it. If it warms you, it’s probably yang, and if it cools you, then it’s probably yin.
5. Create space to just be
Too many of us (me included) are always running around doing something, We feel unproductive or useless when we’re not. But slowing down is how we bring ourselves back into balance.
It’s natural to have busier windows in the day or more dynamic periods, but they must be followed by slower periods where we catch a break.
Even if you plot in five minutes for yourself between tasks at work or at home to breathe, meditate, or daydream.
6. Design a restorative evening ritual
Yang energy is linked to the sun and the day, which means it’s better to do more yang activities in the day and then switch to yin practices in the evening.
One of the best ways to add more yin energy to your life is through a restorative evening ritual. That could mean switching your phone off when you get home, turning down the lights, enjoying a homemade dinner at the table, taking a bath, doing some yin yoga, or reading a book.
These little things will put you in a relaxed, peaceful state, ready for sleep.
Balancing yin and yang energy is a lifetime journey
Remember that balancing yin yang energy is something we have to consciously do each day. This is how we can make sure we stay in that healthy balance and don’t fall too heavily into one or the other.
I’d love to know if you generally find you’re more in your yin energy or more in your yang? And tell me one thing you’ll do today to strive for more balance and harmony?