Combination of Water and Fire and Balance between Yin and Yang
Yin and Yang are Philosophies from Our Lives
Yin and Yang come from the conception of nature of our working people in ancient times. People noticed the opposite while connected phenomena in the natural world, such as heaven and earth, sun and moon, day and night, winter and summer etc. So they summed up these two types of occurrence and development as Yin and Yang, as well as theories like the intergeneration, construction and restriction of Yin and Yang. The mutual relationship of Yin and Yang exists in every aspect of the natural world.
For example, we often eat watermelons in summer. Watermelons are loaded with cold Yin energy, and thus are potent in expelling summer heat. Have you ever been to a watermelon filed? Their leaves are not big, and big watermelons just lie there under the sun. The sandier the soil is, the more sufficient the sunlight is and the sweeter the watermelons are. In order to deal with hot weather, watermelons bask in the sunshine, and heat resisting elements are growing inside gradually. So in the hot summer, a few pieces of watermelons can cool us down, because the Yin energy in watermelons neutralizes the excessive heat in our bodies.
However, it’s totally different during autumn and winter. There is an old saying which goes: having watermelons in autumn is bad for stomach. That is to say, watermelons harvested after autumn begins will result to diarrhea. People with sensitive intestines and stomach can feel that. They can have as much watermelons as they want in summer, but having only two pieces of watermelon in autumn will cause stomachaches and diarrheas. The reason is that it’s cold in autumn and winter, and you need to keep spleen and stomach warm. If you have cold watermelons at this time, the Yin energy inside you will be stronger and the balance of Yin and Yang will be broken, thus spleen and stomach won’t function well.
Plants in nature went through the evolution of hundreds of millions of years and the survival of the fittest. They have their own growth rhythm and they know when and where to grow. For thousands of years, intelligent Chinese applied the features of plant to human bodies after constant observation, practice and summarization. When the imbalance of Yin and Yang appears in human bodies, we use substances with strong Yang energy to tonify and substances with strong Yin energy to nourish. Thus, these plants became Chinese herbal medicine and its regulation was summed up as pharmacology.
For example, ginseng is awarded as “the best herbal to reinforce vital energy”, which is well known as one of the “three treasures of the northeast”. Ginseng is vigorous and warm in nature, which is usually used to strengthen and gain Yang energy emergently. The unique shady and cool environment of Changbai Mountains trained its ability to fight against cold. It accumulates warm energy, which is why it can help to gain Yang energy.
Owing to the coordination and operation of Yin and Yang, we have such a diversified natural world, not only for plants and animals, but also for humans.
Water and Fire are the Sources and Energy of Lives
The Yin and Yang in human bodies are commonly compared to water and fire. They are the most important substances of human reproduction and sources and energy of lives. We cannot live without them for a little moment.
Fire refers to the internal heat of human bodies, which belongs to Yang. Fire is the energy of live, and it maintains the normal function of the viscera. There is an old saying that silly lad sleeps on the cold brick bed because of their strong internal heat. That is to say, young people have strong internal heat, thus their bodies are strong. Comparatively speaking, the elderly is insufficient of internal heat, thus their bodies are weak and afraid of cold.
Heat is received from the outside, and fire is generated from the inside. The heat of human bodies comes from outside, such as food and beverages, while fire is generated from the inside, and all of the five internal organs can generate fire. If the amount is within the normal range, it’s called “junior fire”; if the amount is above the normal range, it’s called “pathogenic fire”, which is also known as “flaring up of heart fire”.
Water is the generic term for body fluid, which belongs to Yin. The feature of water is to nourish lower body. It moves down to nourish, and kidney, the organ of water, locates at the bottom of the five internal organs. Thus, we summarize body fluid as “kidney water”. Kidney is warmed by heart fire, and the circulation can nourish the viscera.
“Water and fire coordination” is often used to describe the balance of Yin and Yang of human bodies. The word “coordination” came from Yi Jing at the earliest. It is a divinatory symbol, which means understanding. Ancient regimen borrowed the theory can compared it to the connection between heart fire and kidney water. If your body has the coordination of heart fire and kidney water as well as the balance of Yin and Yang, you are healthy.
Guidance to Water and Fire Coordination – Swinging the Head and Lowering the Body
I’m going to introduce a set of movements of “Swinging the Head and Lowering the Body to Relieve Stress” from Ba Duan Jin. Its principal is to move the heart fire down to warm kidney water and to eliminate extra pathogenic fire with the circulation of kidney water by limb guidance, so that water and fire can be coordinated and Yin and Yang can be balanced.
The “Swinging the Head and Lowering the Body to Relieve Stress” Movement was compared to “Lowering the Body and Connecting Heart Qi like an Eel”. “Eel” is like snake, swinging its head and tail to different directions and creating the shape of “a zigzag path”. Thus, the key of this set of movement is the coordination of “head” and “coccyx”.
When practice, you can perform the horse stance or bend your knees slightly, and put your palms on your thighs. The height depends on your physical condition. After you have posted, lean your upper body to the left, bend forward, then right, and backward at last, circling your upper body.
When your upper body is leaning backward, swing your head backward at the same time; swing your coccyx, the degenerated tailbone, forward, right and backward. When your body moves back to the center, straighten your head and neck, relax coccyx, naturally lower the tip of coccyx, and return to the original position. Do the same movements towards the right side. It depends how many times you repeat the movements.
The Health Care Characteristics of “Swinging the Head and Lowering the Body to Relieve Stress”
Body rotation can strengthen the mansion of kidney. “Mansion” means “house”, and there are five houses of human bodies, which are: the house of intelligence – head, the house of chest – back, the house of tendon – knees, the house of marrow – bones and the house of kidney – waist. The strength and weakness of five houses indicated the physical condition of bodies.
Head is the mansion of intelligence. Lowering head and looking things for too long will cause psychasthenia. That is to say, the vital essence and spirit gather in head, and if you lower your head to look things for too long, you will be exhausted and your mind will be confused.
Back is the mansion of chest. Bending back comes with bending shoulders, and your chest will be damaged. That is to say, back is the house of chest and if you bend your back and shoulders too often, they can’t be stretched and you will have a weak chest, which will affect the function of your viscera inside the chest.
Knees are the mansions of tendons. If you can’t bend or stretch, you will walk stooped, which will tire out your tendons. That is to say, knees are the collection point of tendons. They can reflect status of tendons of your whole body. If you don’t move very often, you will stagger when walking and your tendons and bones will age easily.
Bones are the mansions of marrow. If you can’t stand for too long, you will walk shaken, which will tire out your bones. “Shaken” is a symptom of body shake. The old saying goes “Standing for too long will hurt bones”. If you stand for too long, you will feel tired in your bones and your body will shake. That’s because the marrow in your bones are injured.
Waist is the mansion of kidney. If you can’t rotate your waist, your kidney will tire out. That is to say, waist is the house of kidney. If you don’t do exercises with your waist, your kidney will be exhausted. The most common symptom is having waist aches. A weak kidney does no good for your partner either. Thus, in order to strengthen your kidney, you need to build a prosperous family, thus you can produce more kidney essence.
When rotating, your upper body circles from left to right and from front to back, which is a large-scale rotation and stretching exercise for waist. By stretching and stimulating your waist, you can strengthen your kidney house and regulate your kidney meridian, thus to achieve the purpose of creating water with waist. Therefore, the range of rotation must be wide. When leaning towards two sides, you need to fully stretch your body; when leaning forward, you need to stretch your head and hips and keep your upper body parallel to the ground.
“Swinging the Head and Lowering the Body” is the difficult point of this movement, as well as the key point to reduce heart fire and lift kidney water.
The purpose of swinging head is to stimulate Da Zhui Acupoint in the back of neck. Da Zhui Acupoint locates at the peak of the back of neck, which is called “where all Yang energy meets” by ancient people. In other words, it is where Da Zhui Acupoint Hand San Yang Meridian and the Yang energy of Du Meridian gather. Thus, the Yang energy is very sufficient, which is also known is the Yang among all Yangs.
The function of Da Zhui Acupoint is not only increasing Yang energy. When Yin and Yang are imbalanced, Da Zhui Acupoint will regulate the imbalance, which is why it’s also called Bai Lao Acupoint. There is a traditional remedy of depletion at Da Zhui Acupoint in traditional Chinese medicine. In order to cure acnes caused by fever, hyperpyrexia or internal heat, gently pinch the skin on Da Zhui Acupoint, quickly stab a few times with a sterile needle on the skin and squeeze a few drops of blood. It is effective to release excessive heat.
Swinging head is to stimulate Da Zhui Acupoint with body and breathing guidance. It can reduce Yang energy and thus reduce heart fire. When swinging your head, keep your neck relaxed, and breathe naturally. Don’t hold your breath, otherwise your neck muscle will be tensed, which will directly affect the degree of tightness near Da Zhui Acupoint. It is not good to lower down Yang energy. Therefore, you don’t need to put any strength when swinging. Pretend your neck is broken and swing with the weight of your head itself.
The word “Wei Lv” firstly appeared in Zhuang Zi. It refers to the place where seawater gathers in ancient legends, which is the place with low altitude, holding and gathering water from all rivers. “Wei” is the lower point of all rivers; “Lv” is where water gathers. During the regimen practice of posterity, they called coccyx “Wei Lv”, which means this is the place with complex tendons and meridians and the place where water gathers.
It’s not easy to touch coccyx when practice. No matter we stand, sit or walk, it’s hard to stimulate the inside of coccyx. When lowering your body, you are rotating your coccyx, and it’s more flexible to rotate when your waist and hips are loose. Swinging coccyx aims to guide the circulation of Qi and blood near here, so that the Yin and Yang energy inside you is in order, heart fire will be reduced, and kidney water will be raised.
When practicing “Swinging the Head and Lowering the Body”, your head and lower body need to practice in coordination. You can practice “Lowering the Body” first, and then connect with “Swinging the Head”.