Welcome to Chinese Medicine Bristol's official blog! Here, Acupuncture and TCM pracitioner Sandra Arbelaez will share information about Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine, how they work, and the latest research and developments related to TCM. You will also find knowledge and ideas on how to enjoy a full, healthy life that she has picked up over the course of 15 years of exploring the world of natural health

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Honouring the feminine: Nourishing Yin energy

We live in a time where the Feminine energy is crushed and depleted by an overwhelming Masculine energy. Speed, rapid growth, expansion, accumulation, and destruction seem to be our main driving forces. This is, however, not to do with the woman vs. man question, but with Yin vs. Yang. In terms of Chinese Medicine, what we are seeing in the world is a manifestation of a deep imbalance between Yin and Yang where Yin has been severely depleted by an excessively aggressive Yang. Even though women are relatively more Yin than men, this core imbalance is as much part of us as it is of men, and this is perhaps taking a bigger toll on our health. We all, both men and women, need to start thinking of nourishing ourselves in every way so that our Yin is strengthened. Doing this will harbour the life-giving, life-preserving and creative qualities of the Feminine energy, thus creating more balance both in each of us and all around.  

Most of us have heard of Yin and Yang, the most basic and perhaps most complex concepts in Chinese Medicine rooted in Taoist philosophy.

The Yin Yang symbol

So what are they? Yin and Yang are two opposing energies that only exist in terms of each other. Where Yin is moist, cool, dark, heavy, and tends to contract and be still; Yang is dry, warm, light, airy, and tends to expand and move. If we think of the continuous cycle of day and night - day being Yang and night Yin - we can see the constant waning and waxing of these two energies. Even in the middle of the night, the potentiality of the day is implicit: Immediately after midnight - the cusp of the Yin energy - the night starts its movement back towards the next day, towards Yang. 
In Chinese medicine it is said that Yin and Yang are not only opposites, but they are interdependent (there cannot be darkness without light), mutually consuming (light consumes darkness as it grows stronger and vice-versa), and inter-transforming (day and night continuously transform into each other).

Everything around us contains aspects of both Yin and Yang, where there is Yin there must be Yang or there will be no life. In terms of Masculine and Feminine, we can say Masculine is predominantly Yang and Feminine is predominantly Yin.

Let us take a minute to examine the predominant life-style in our Western societies:
  •  We have less and less time for things like resting, playing, and relaxing- all Yin nourishing activities- and spend more and more time rushing about with work and our many commitments. “There are simply not enough hours in the day”.
    "Not enough hours in the day"
  •   The green both around us and throughout the planet is decreasing: Yin-nourishing Mother Nature is declining rapidly. Instead, we have more bustling cities, more roads, faster cars.
  • We communicate in ever faster ways. This is wonderful if you want to rapidly transmit something to a large number of people, but too harsh, cold, unemotional, and impersonal in other contexts.
  • There is fierce competition on every field of life, and there are wars at many levels: Military, economic, corporate, political, etc.
  •  We want to be forever young, to look and have the strength we had in our twenties- the peak of our physical abilities- forever.
  •  Many of us are hooked on stimulants: coffee, tea, coke, speed, ecstasy, cocaine, whatever makes us faster and more awake.
It seems that we live in a society that predominantly favours Yang qualities: Movement, activity, speed, force, and destruction. Not only this, but we seem to even “worship” Yang qualities such as youth, physical strength, speed, rapid growth. Although it may be men who lead countries and companies that perpetuate this kind of behaviour at the highest level, our current situation is far from being solely the responsibility of men. Both men and women seem to be oblivious of our Yin qualities, our Feminine aspect. Women though, being more Yin by nature, are the most affected by the way we are currently living, and it may even be up to us to start turning the scales towards Yin-Yang equilibrium. 

Many of the conditions I treat women for (and often men too) at my Acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice can directly result from damaged Yin: Insomnia, anxiety, depression, menstrual problems, infertility, severe menopausal symptoms, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes, to name just a few. Consequently, the most common remedies I prescribe are Yin tonics. However, there is a lot that can be done before you- whether a man or a woman- develop symptoms rooted in a malnourished Yin energy, and end up seeking treatment.

Yin is all about nourishment at every level, physical, mental, and spiritual. These are a few tips that will help you nourish your Yin and thereby strengthen the Feminine energy. Bear in mind that this is not by any means a comprehensive list:

  • Rest up: You may not feel “allowed” to rest but be aware that the more you wear yourself out the less productive you will be. An exhausted body or mind cannot render good results either at home or at work. So ask yourself this question: Am I resting enough for the amount of activity I do? If the answer is no, think of ways to restore the energy you use on a daily basis, otherwise you will end up running on empty and your body will end up stopping you on your tracks.
  • Nourish yourself: Eat fresh foods, and eat regularly so that your body has enough fuel at all times. Whether you are a vegetarian or a meat eater, make sure you eat enough good quality protein and plenty of vegetables and fruit.
  • Get some fresh air: Is there a park near you? That is all you need. Go and look at the trees, breath in deeply, and be one with nature every once in a while. Not only you will be nourishing your lungs and oxygenating all your body, you will be nourishing your soul.
Give your mind a break
  • Give your mind a break: In the usual bustle of everyday life there are no moments of silence, or without visual or other sensorial stimulation. Your mind is always at work without you even realising. Quiet time is of paramount importance to nourish the Yin energy. You can try to do this by yourself, or join a meditation group, or a Qi Gong, Tai Chi or contemplative Yoga class. Whatever you choose, you will see how this helps to put things into perspective!
  • Ask yourself the “important” questions: You are never too young to start trying to understand what you want from life, and what the purpose of it all is. You may well find out what is it that is making you run around like a headless chicken, or what is making you so restless.

Slowing down and taking time to nourish yourself at every level will not only benefit your energy, your creativity, and your mental and emotional balance; but it will also benefit those around you. Have you ever witnessed a stressed out or a chaotic person walking into the room where you are sitting? If so, you may have noticed that people like this seem to create stressful/chaotic situations as they pass by. In contrast, a calmer, more balanced person will have the opposite effect. 

In Taoist thought, each of us is a microcosm of the universe. Thus, if we start to cultivate balance into our lives, it will eventually extend to the world around us. Nourishing our Yin will by extension contribute to nourishing the Feminine energy as a whole. This strengthened Feminine energy will eventually soften the extreme Masculine powers we are under, so that our life-giving, life-protecting, and creative human qualities are allowed to blossom once again in every man and woman of the planet.

To all women throughout the world, to all the mothers, teachers, and carers; to those who silently suffer poverty and injustice; to those who sacrifice themselves for the sake of others; to women of all professions and backgrounds: Happy Women’s day!


  1. Hi,

    I was doing some research on the web about 'feminine yin energy' and I am writing a project about pregnancy and birth. I came across this article which I really enjoyed reading. I think the tips you give at the end are wonderful. :)

  2. Thanks very much for the feedback and kind words. The posts I've written on the TCM Kidneys, improving fertility, and different stages of pregnancy may be useful for your research, I hope so anyway! Good luck with your project!