Balancing the Yang

Those of us who practice Chinese Medicine look at everything as being a balance between Yin and Yang. When we refer to Yang, we are speaking of things that are warming, active, outward focused, creative and energetic. Yin refers to things that are cooling, inward focused, calming, grounding, restorative. The balance between the two is essential to health in all aspects of our lives.

Chinese medicine also views the seasons as having Yin or Yang qualities. For example, Summer is a very Yang time of year when the weather is warm, we are more extroverted, we stay awake for more hours of the day. Winter, is certainly a more Yin time when the weather and daylight encourage us to sleep more and to spend less time at home instead of socializing.

It is important to remember that we can work to balance these seasonal influences when we feel symptoms arise. It is certainly possible for the Summer months to aggravate any Yang conditions like anxiety, skin rashes and insomnia. And while we may be feeling more energetic, it is possible to over exert that energy, leaving us exhausted and prone to colds or viral infections by the end of the season. The way we combat the heat and high Yang energy of the summer is with cooling Yin foods and calming Yin activities.

Some cooling Yin foods to combat the heat of the Yang Summer include cucumber, celery, zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupe, tofu, yogurt, lemons and mung beans. A few of my favorite recipes are this Watermelon Salad and this Cucumber, Yogurt and Dill Cold Soup. 

Some calming activities to balance the high energy Yang activities of summer include yoga, walking, slow swimming, meditation and Qi Gong. Read more here about Yin Yoga and Qi Gong.

Hopefully you can include some of these to help you stay cool during this hot Yang season. Happy Summer!

We are fortunate to have neighbors who share our interest in promoting healthy foods as part of a healthy lifestyle. Haley from Happy Leaf Kombucha shares her knowledge of how fermented foods can add a great benefit to our heath. Never tried kombucha? Check out the Happy Leaf tap room next time you are in the neighborhood!

Happy Leaf Kombucha

Fermented foods are foods that have gone through the process of lactofermentation. This is a food preservation technique that adds probiotic goodness to raw foods. It breaks down components in the food, making them more easily digestible and creates beneficial enzymes and b vitamins as well as various probiotic strains.

Kombucha is a lightly fermented tea, rich in probiotics and b vitamins. Ours begins with a green and black tea and organic sugar, and a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). This floating colony then eats the sugar and turns the sugars to probiotics. The end result after the open air fermentation is kombucha! The majority of sugar is processed out during the ferment, leaving only 0-2g on average per glass. Kombucha is a wonderful alternative to alcohol and sodas alike, as it has a fizzy, sparkling quality but also an interesting fermented flavor. We flavor ours with organic cold pressed juices and infuse herbs, there are endless flavor combination possibilities!

Fermented foods and kombucha seem like the latest fad to some people, but the truth is, fermentation is an old tradition practiced all over the world and has been preserving foods and keeping people healthy and balanced for centuries, it’s only just now sparked an interest in our modern society. The process and tradition of fermenting and eating live foods has sharply declined in recent years, in which we drink pasteurized milk instead of raw milk, and quick vinegar pickles and krauts instead of aged and fermented alternatives.  

Fermenting food and drink is a means of preservation, as well as introducing probiotics, vitamins and enzymes to the body to aide in overall health. Fermented foods are super easy to make at home, and cost a fraction of what they cost in stores! 

    ~Haley Burkhall, Taproom Manager

February Focus

Even though it is the shortest month of the year, many of us have a hard time around now. Cold, dark days have been with us for months, the excitement of holidays has passed and there are still several weeks until spring comes to save us from the winter doldrums.

On a lighter note, February is associated with Valentine’s Day and showing those around us how much we love them. In addition, the American Heart Association recognizes February as Heart Health month and promotes heart healthy lifestyle choices to the public.

In bringing all of these connections together, lets use this month to show OURSELVES love, as much as we show others we love them. This focus can sometimes help lift our spirits through the darker days of winter.

Some suggestions about how to show yourself love and gratitude:

  1. Create a list of accomplishments and review it often. Often when we have the winter blues, it is easy to get focused on what we haven’t accomplished or where we feel weak. Now is a great time to remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments
  2. Learn something new. Try learning a new language, sport or dance. Learning is a great way to get our brain out of the winter motivation slump.
  3. Get some exercise. Indoor or outdoor, this can help you appreciate your body and get those exercise endorphins flowing. Grab a friend and get two for the price of one! (See number 4)
  4. Spend time with supportive, uplifting people. Surround yourself with people and places that have positive effects on you. Positive friends and co-workers can support each other through the winter blahs.
  5. Spend some time just being. Winter is a time for reflection and recovery. Remember to take social, technology and screen breaks to give yourself a break from the hectic schedules we all live.
  6. Do something nice for yourself. Take a bath, make yourself a wholesome, healthy lunch to take to work (see number 8) or spend your break time reading your favorite book.
  7. Get out in nature. Being in nature is good for our heart and our soul. Even the American Heart Association recognizes that exercise outdoors is great for heart health.
  8. Make yourself your favorite healthy meal. Wholesome, home cooked food can boost your mood and support the health of your entire body. Check out some great healthy winter recipes here.
  9. Help someone else. Volunteer work and acts of kindness and compassion help us get out of our own thoughts and are known to change our brains in healthy ways!
  10. Hug somebody. After all, its the month of love and hugging is a great way to show you care. Plus, it can have positive health benefits for both people, including a stronger immune system.

Taking time to appreciate yourself will allow the winter blahs to pass easier and when spring comes, you will be ready to shine!