You’ve probably noticed the growing sense of urgency and the desire to move, go faster, do things quicker in the air lately.  People seem a little more anxious, a little less patient, a little more on the edge, touchy and irritable to downright snarky and angry. 

Yang is moving upward.   Our energy, that has been inward focused and restive during the Winter is shifting to move upward and out – just like the plants in Spring.  This is a good thing. We want the Yang energy to rise in the Spring.  Hopefully, you’ve rested some during the Winter and are ready to move forward with new plans – the virtue of Spring element.  

It’s time for action.  

The energy doesn’t wait for the calendar to say it’s the first day of Spring – it starts to move as soon as the we’ve passed the shortest day of the year, the Winter solstice.  As the sun returns, the energy begins to rise.  This energy can move upward in beautiful expansion or it can rise too fast in uncontrolled bursts that cause chaos and irritates those around us.  It’s up to us to decide whether to get wrapped up in the angst or whether we choose to redirect that energy in meaningfully and graceful ways. Bend like bamboo, baby – take a shot of apple cider vinegar, laugh it off and don’t take it out on others. 

Before we move on, let’s look at Yin and Yang first.

Yin and Yang are founding principles of Asian (Chinese) medicine.  The two represent the dynamic opposites seen in nature.  They each have indicative characteristic and they are always viewed relative to the other.  In other words, you cannot identify if something is Yin without knowing something is Yang.  Asian medicine practitioners then use the understandings of these qualities and their relationship to each other to identify and treat disharmony.

The qualities of Yin – Literally, the shady side of the mountain. Yin is cooling, rich, quiet, dense, solid and deep.  It is quiescence, stillness and rest and corresponds with Winter and the more restive seasons.  In the body, the Yin organs rule over the Blood and Fluids.

The qualities of Yang – Literally, the sunny side of the mountain. Yang is hot, movement, growth, immaterial and bright and corresponds with Summer and the more active seasons.  It is activity and in the body and the Yang organs rule over the creation of Qi, all trans formative processes, fire and heat in the body.

We identify what is Yin or Yang by comparing it to its opposite…  The qualities are identified by knowing the other.  The sun is Yang (bright, hot, active) compared to the earth (cooler, moister, quieter). However, if we compare the earth to the moon, the earth is Yang while the moon is Yin as is it more quiet and more still than the earth – get it? 

Our bodies feel seasonal changes, when we are in harmony with these shifts we can delight in the blessings of the season.  Spring brings the opportunity plan, see options, grow and be flexible, and take decisive action on our plans–our energy is sparked and we have come to life.  In disharmony, we resist the changes and encounter difficulties. The transition from Winter to Spring is perhaps the most tumultuous, this can result in agitation, angst, restlessness, feelings of being stuck in a situation and the inability to see any solutions. From a Chinese medicine perspective we see a lot of Liver Yang Rising (energy moving up too quickly) causing high pitched ringing in the ears, headaches, bursts of anger and angst.  Wind is also a culprit in the Spring and can appear as tearing of the eyes, twitches, allergies, Bell’s palsy, tick and even strokes. If you suffer from some of these patterns the best thing to do is act now to prevent flare-ups.

What does Yang ascending look like? Here’s a quick sampling of the symptoms.

  • Acid reflux
  • Aggression
  • Agitation
  • Anger
  • Digestive difficulties–especially those that ascend, GERD, belching, acid reflux, bloating, verps.
  • Elevated blood pressure–especially if the client already has Liver Yang Rising (too much heat goes up) or Liver Yin deficiency (too little fluids to quell fire’s exuberance)
  • Headaches
  • High pitch ringing in ears
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Nervous energy
  • Nose bleeds
  • Outburst of emotions
  • PMS symptoms increase
  • Sensation of heat and/or throbbing in the head
  • Seizures and strokes
  • Tension – especially of the neck, shoulders, head, eyes and jaw
  • Tinnitus – high pitched, ringing in the ears. Low pitch is an indicator of a different pathology.
  • Vision issues – floaters, blurry, red, itchy eyes.

Who’s responsible for Yang ascending

Several organs can be at play here…but the most common in this scenario (and especially in the Spring) is the Liver.

The Liver – Rules our planning and vision and it is responsible for the “free and easy flow” of Qi, Blood and Fluids.  By early Spring, it’s ready to get up and go.  It’s energy is supposed to move easily in all directions, but it has a nasty habit of stagnating or flaring straight up to your head. Check out more on stagnation here

The Gallbladder – As the Liver’s Yang companion is also very active in the spring. Gallbladder patterns may show up as types of headaches, digestive issues, IBS, Crohn’s disease, phlegm patterns, food allergies and difficulty with digesting fats…

The Lungs also play a role in keeping excess yang from ascending  As the uppermost organ they act as a lid and help move qi down in the body.  If the Lungs are particularly weak (like in chronic colds, asthma, bronchitis and allergies) they can’t keep the energy from ascending too quickly- so it’s important to identify this pattern and work to build up the Lungs.

And then there is Yin deficiency – Any deficiency of Yin can contribute to Yang flaring up…this includes Liver Yin deficiency, Kidneys (the mother of Liver), Heart, Stomach and Lung Yin deficiency.  Check with your Chinese medicine practitioner…we can spot Yin deficiency pretty easily. 

So what can you do?

Harmonize the Liver so it moves ‘free and easy’, rather than in lurches and leaps. Here’s a few tips.  When Liver energy is harmony we are flexible in mind and body, we are open to seeing many paths and have forward vision.  When it’s not…we start to sigh, snarl, yell or growl at the perceived obstacles that cross our paths.

Meditate – Breathe – deep, slow your energy down, and don’t allow your mind and body to indulge thoughts or emotions of anger. Take a few deep breaths. The Lung’s descending nature is activated on inhalation and this expands the chest, pushes down helps to free up the diaphragm, helping to calm your Liver down. The process of mediation helps you release negative thoughts and

Move – Go for a walk or run, but keep your movement moderate and appropriate for your health. Liver Qi stagnation is easily broken through with movement – that why you feel so wonderful after the right type of exercise or movement.  Get up into the mountains and enjoy some spring skiing.  Get out and run it off. 

Laugh and sing – Anger, frustration and irritation are the emotions of the Spring and Wood element and they tighten the diaphragm.  We can easily drown in these emotions out of habit.  Check in with your emotions.  Laughter, strongly loosens the diagram, so try to laugh of the intense emotions and go sing and dance to counter them. Likewise, singing will help the Lungs get that Liver under control and lift your spirits. Make a playlist of songs that bring you joy.

Include foods and herbs that sedate Liver Yang rising – Peppermint, dark leafy greens, selfheal tea, nettle tea, lemon water, a little apple cider vinegar. Xiao Yao Wan (Relaxed Wanderer) is one of the most common herbal formulas for helping Liver’s Free and Easy Flow. Contact me to find out if the formula is ideal for you or if we need to look at other options – there are numerous ones. 

Avoid foods that heat the Liver – Hot, spicy, greasy and fried foods will make matters worse.  Alcohol is also extremely hot, so be cautious.

Hydrate – Yang consumes Yin, so make sure you are getting a enough fluids to cool things down.

Anchor – Minerals like calcium anchor and cool ascending patterns.

Here’s to a chill, productive Spring.

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