Understanding the nature of yin and yang energies is important for those who use qigong for healing. While yin and yang energies can be discussed as static entities, they are always moving and changing with the passage of time. Watching the waves go in and outward along the shoreline of a beach is an excellent example of the circularity of the inter-meshing of these ever-moving energies.
There are general characteristics of each type of energy. Yang energy expands and flows outward, while yin contracts and flows inward. Yin qi, in a healthy body ascends and nurtures, while yang descends.
Time of practice. To heal using qigong, yin, or nurturing, energy is important. That is why practice in the morning is always recommended. Yin energy peaks during the hour of 6 am, so it is best to practice your qigong exercises around that time. Authorities of Chinese medical qigong say that the 12-hour cycle goes from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. for yang energy and from 11 p.m. to 11 a.m. for yin.
Location of practice. If you practice outdoors after sunrise, face away from the sun. The back of the body is yang and the front is yin. The yang energy of the sun will complement the yang energy rising up the back. You can also understand from this advice how to orient your body in relation to a fireplace or other heat source.
Breathing. In breathing, the exhalation is yang. You exhale heat and wastes, or excesses from the body. When you inhale, you are bringing in yin energy, replenishing the oxygen in the blood and nurturing the body. When practicing breathing, think about the exhale and just let the inhale occur in the empty space.
Exercises. Outward movements are yang, while inward movements are yin. For instance, with the commencement move of T’ai Chi, the arms first go out and then they come inward towards the torso. This is a complete cycle of yin and yang. Yin and yang cycles are what T’ai Chi is, and also what qigong is.
To reflect the continuity of the cycles of yin and yang, movements should be continuous. That is to say, fluid and non-broken. Strive to maintain correct and continuous movement during movement exercises. Qigong and T’ai chi is not robotic as you can see in many aerobics classes. Imagine you are the shoreline of a beach, experiencing the un-breaking movement of incoming and outgoing waves.
Seasons. The seasons that are yang are spring and summer and the yin seasons are autumn and winter. Changing one’s practice more towards meditation in the winter and more towards movement in the yang months is in keeping with the seasons. There are also specific qigong practices that can be either yin or yang in nature. For instance, the Bear movements of the Five Animal Frolics (五禽戲, Wu Qin Xi) are yin, while the Crane Frolics are yang. Each of the five elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine is associated with a season as well, as is each movement set with the Animal Frolics.
Your body has many different aspects of yin/yang duality. As mentioned before the front is yin and the back is yang. In males the left side of the body is yang and the right is yin. This is why during closing, the left hand is placed over the right over the dantien to collect the energy. Women are advised to place the right hand over the left because the right hand is yang and the left is yin.
Other dualities that exist in the body are top vs. bottom. The upper torso is yang (so is cerebral activity) and the lower half is yin. The outer surface of the body is yang, while the inner portion has an overall yin energy, however, there are yin organs (liver, kidneys, lungs, spleen, heart) and yang organs (gall bladder, small intestine, stomach, large intestine, and triple burner).
Concluding remarks. Being in tune with the Tao is riding the wave between yin and yang. If we allow ourselves to become frozen in either side of the dualities of life, we risk our health and well being. Pay attention, be aware and be flexible to ride the wave of Tao. Life is change. Develop inner awareness. If we practice qigong movements and meditation regularly, we are more likely to have the inner strength to adapt to external changes. Blessings on your journey!