Yin Deficiency Self-Maintenance guide for Qi Gong practitioners
As QiGong practitioners, we know that the changes in the energy body affect the physical body, and vice-versa, and we can use this mechanism to influence the health of the body via our practice. However, it can be helpful to understand how the “same” word/definition can encompass different concepts, depending on modality:
|… in Qi Gong
|… in Chinese Medicine
|Bioelectric and biomagnetic energy inherently present in the body, which we can increase via practice
|Functional and transformational potential of various organs and functions in the body
|Bioelectric energy, mostly moves in nerves, has tendency to move sporadically and rise up to the head
|The warming, and activating aspect
|Biomagnetic energy, governs and contains the Yang Qi
|The nourishing, cooling and lubricating aspect
|Affects nervous system and mind, leading to affecting the body health
|Affects physical body, leading to affecting the mental health
It is important to understand that in Eastern arts, mind and body are the reflections of each other. So, inevitably, the mental state is reflected in the state of the body, and physical imbalances also are present in the thought patterns. When we bring the imbalance of the body back to equilibrium, it’ll make the energy system function more effectively, and will enable us to bring the mind to harmony as well. As Qi Gong practitioners, our aim is to build more Qi, because Qi acts essentially as the conductor between mind and body – the more (in quantity and quality of) Qi we have, the stronger the change in body will carry over to our mind, and vice versa.
Common symptoms (can have several)
- Fatigue, feeling tired after eating or sleeping – Qi acquisition mechanism is affected
- Anxiety, restless mind, insomnia – Qi anchoring mechanism is affected
- Dryness, night sweats, feeling feverish in the evenings – cooling mechanism is affected
- Palpitations, achy bones, lower back pain, shortness of breath, bloating after eating, tinnitus
The principles of recovering from Yin Deficiency
1 – Reduce unnecessary consumption of Yin
The strongest change will come from the change of lifestyle. Often, Yin Deficiency is the result of overstimulation – whether it is stress/burnout, many sleepless nights, bad diet, or sexual or mental overstimulation, addiction to entertainment/social media. Until the symptoms improve, it is important to focus on the following:
- Quality of sleep – no TV/phones an hour before bed, aim to be deeply asleep by 11pm. It is recommended to read a book that inspires your soul to move in the right direction in life, such as classics by spiritual teachers. Add 30min+ quiet sitting practice to your routine before bed, such as following the breath, Song breathing, or mind fasting. Good quality sleep is absolutely essential to let the body regulate and repair itself.
- Reduce stress – both mental and physical. Adapt your living conditions so that you have a place where you feel rooted, a place of sanctuary, somewhere where you are able to switch off the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism.
- Regulate sexual activity – excessive mental or physical sexual activity is a direct drain on the Yin of the body. There are suggested classical limits to ejaculation times, such as 1-2/week in your 30s, 2-4/month in your 40s. As a spiritual practitioner, one must be aware that sex is diametrically opposed to spiritual practice in general terms, and in practical terms disturbs Jing – one of the key substances we look to consolidate in our energetic practice in preparation for Nei Dan and meditation.
- Calm the Heart – overthinking, emotional stimulation, excessive “listening” or “looking” stir the energy around the Heart and get in the way of inner peacefulness and calm, which are the Yin qualities. Although, when deficient, it is important to do something that nourishes us – sometimes that could be listening to a nice song, or watching a romcom, it is even more important to dedicate time to stillness and quietude, to allow the Heart, where all emotions are experienced, to rest. Taking a walk in nature is a great harmoniser!
- Exercise! Regular physical exercise is essential to health, as it stimulates the Qi production in the body and moves stagnation. Qi Gong and Tai Ji practices are not enough, make sure to have a daily stretching routine, and a weekly strengthening session. (Unless you are absolutely drained – in that case, spend a few days sleeping and eating well first!)
2 – Build up Yin
Although acupuncture is effective at regulating various mechanisms in the body, the truly effective way to supplement Yin is via diet change and the herbs. Please make sure to get the herbs prescription from a qualified practitioner, rather than self-diagnosing and getting an off-the-shelf product – as this can have negative side effects, such as adding damp into the body (which has its own problems). Although herbs can have a strong immediate effect, the lasting effect for your condition will come from your diet change.
- Drink water! Make sure you are drinking plenty of water, 2-3L a day – after all Yin is strongly related to fluids in the body. Monitor your urine, aim for almost-transparent colour.
- Don’t skip meals at this time – eat 3-4 small meals throughout the day, to help boost the digestive system into producing energy and Yin.
- Eat warm meals with not too many ingredients/flavours for easier digestion
- Best would be lightly salted soups or stews with meat, root vegetables, grains and beans. Suggested recipes – beef borscht, slow cooked beef stew, chicken soup.
- Add ingredients that support Yin – goji berries, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, eggs, bone broth, mushrooms, seaweed (you can find more on the web). “Blood builds blood” – is the principle for the most effective blood support, so to support the quality of blood it is recommended to eat slow cooked red meat a few times per week, until symptoms eleviate.
- Avoid stimulating/damaging foods – any stimulants (coffee, alcohol), raw/cold foods, strong spices, processed food.
3 – Boost body’s production of Yin
It is beneficial to add certain Qi Gong/breath exercises to our weekly practice routine, focus on them more until the symptoms improve, and keep returning to the exercises for general health maintenance.
Anchoring the Breath
This is a great exercise for calming the mind and anchoring it more in the body – medicinally, it will help alleviate anxiety and support the biomagnetism of the body. For Qi Gong practitioners, it is an essential exercise to improve the quality of attention and absorption which increases the mind-to-body connection.
Kidney Qi Gong
This is a strong medicinal practice to support the Kidney system – the root of all Yin and Yang in the body. It helps to anchor the Qi at the bottom of the body and helps to build the Lower Dan Tian field.
Spleen Qi Gong
This is a strong medicinal practice to boost the Qi production in the body by strengthening the digestive system.