The Yin and Yang of ChiRunning
Yin is considered the feminine principle and Yang the masculine.
In the west, most of us are what an acupuncturist would call Yin deficient. We go, go, go with too little rest and recuperation.
In ChiRunning we emphasize Yin energy as the foundation of all movement: receptivity, stability, core strength, flexibility, responsiveness to the moment.
These Yin qualities make running safer, easier and much more enjoyable. Once the Yin foundation is established, adding some Yang output comes naturally and doesn’t injure or deplete your body.
Yin – Yang
Earth – sky/heaven
stability – variability
cooperating – dominating
water – fire
fluidity – directness
intake – output
night – day
darkness – light
moon – sun
receptive – expressive
intuitive – logical
allowing – forcing
passive – aggressive
fall – spring
winter – summer
In many ways, we’ve become overly impressed with Yang energies. We focus on how much output we can do in a day and only grudgingly, turn inwards and rest. How many times have you felt sleep deprived, yet pushed through anyway?
The ChiRunning set-up that is essential for creating injury-free running is all about creating good posture, a stable and soft landing for each stride, a strong core, and a deep sense of relaxation. You learn to Body Sense, which is a way to listen to your body’s messages more intently and responsively.
The next stage is creating a watery, fluid stride and a flowing movement in your arms, hips and legs. Tension and stress actually slow you down. The best runners are the most relaxed, while maintaining a strong core and good, upright posture.
The focus on these Yin qualities of taking in and storing energy, begins to give you a surplus of energy.
You become truly energized from a healthy place, at which point you can begin to spend that energy. Perhaps you’d like to go faster or run longer distances; you’ll find this just happens naturally when your technique allows you to relax. Eventually, if you want, you can add fire to your stride, be more assertive, take on more challenges.
Yin Yang Cooperating
Doing Chi speed intervals is a great way to practice the Yin of taking in and storing energy and then the Yang of short, faster intervals, which is basically spending the cash you’ve banked. When Yin and Yang are working together cooperatively, it is like great Tango dancers whose harmonious movement is less than a thought away.
This practice is true for men and women but, women have a bit of an advantage over men. They are generally a bit more Yin (not always!), and have a more natural inclination to body awareness, fluidity in their movements, and some of the other Yin qualities that are key to the foundation of ChiRunning.
You too might find it easier to “do”, produce, or conquer your to-do lists while struggling to stop, listen to your body, and truly feel yourself. You may have gotten swayed by the “mind-over-body” concept, rather than the more cooperative “mind-and-body” relationship that yields the most dynamic energy of all.
This happens to runners all the time. Do you ever think you should be faster or able to run longer? Do you ever ask of your body more than it’s prepared to do? Injury and frustration are the common results.
Yin and Yang energies working harmoniously gives birth to something new, an energy and expression that offers a runner’s high like no other.