How to improve blood circulation and increase Qi and yang (from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective)
One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory. In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other. Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states. Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping). Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).
One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.
How to use this guide:
- This is purely a reference guide
- Do see a Chinese medicine practitioner as this information is not a replacement for a doctor
- You can follow this guide on symptoms of yin and yang balance as a start
This post started from an extended question around another post on “What does it mean to have cold hands and feet? How to replenish qi and yang“:
How to improve blood circulation and increase Qi and yang (Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective) with lifestyle changes (beyond the soups and teas!).
As we age, we lose our yang naturally and become more yin, which is why we tend to slow down and are not as active as children.
This is particularly true for women 35+ and men 40+ and this can be seen in the physical changes (especially women who potentially start perimenopause).
How do you know? And what can you do about it?
Explore this video to learn about some of the signs that can indicate slowed Qi and yang and 5 lifestyle changes (and soups and teas) that can help you improve and maintain it so that you can be as healthy as possible into your “forever youth”.
This is because my body is not the same as it used to be when I was younger and it’s important to maintain this one home that I’ve got!
What is Qi (or yang) depletion?
- is includes cold hands and feet where you feel they are cold all the time. This is particularly obvious to me when I’m running or riding in cooler weather, even at 10C, my hands will feel cold pretty quickly and I’ll need gloves. I see people in Toronto running in shorts in 5C and I’m in awe. I can’t! LOL… your hands and feet are one of the first body parts to be “sacrificed” when your body needs more warmth for the main meridians.
- Feeling cold all the time is similar to cold hands and feet, but this is progressively moving towards your body. You’ll want to feel like you want a warm space or to increase the heat. I’ve also started wearing wooly socks to bed to keep this part warm and it seems to help me stay comfortable. It’s the worst with cold feet!
- Uneasy or restless sleep also occurs if your yang is out of balance. Normally, when you’re sleeping, yin is increased and yang is decreased (yang being the active state in the body from a Traditional Chinese medicine perspective), however, when you’re off balance, sleep is one of the key things you’ll also notice, unless you’re deathly exhausted, but keep a tab over a period of a few weeks. Everyone has their own circadian rhythms, but that’s what you’re looking for – consistency in the rhythm.
- Difficulty to focus or remain calm as our shen or spirit is also disturbed. This is also connected to the sleep in that we sometimes feel uneasy or unsettled and may have more outbursts or unable to stay relaxed. Having emotions are normal, that is part of human beings, but when the emotions become so central and focused on how we make decisions and live our lives, that’s when we aren’t able to let go and allow our body to destress. There is a huge connection between mental, psychological stress and how healthy our body shows up.
- Slower or more difficulty in movements is connected to the slower flow of a weaker or slower pulse. This is because the Qi and yang does not flow as it should in the body and there are blockages.
- Paler complexion or lip color is also a sign of the slower blood flow. This is also indicated by the color of the tongue, which should normally be a vibrant red, but when the yang is depleted, the tongue will often show up paler and more on the pink-white side.
Type of soups and teas to make to replenish qi and yang (for yang deficiency):
Here are a few key principles to think about when designing or making soups that will help with yang deficiency and to help you replenish qi and yang.
- Use dried red dates in your teas or soups and be sure to have the pits removed as they are fiery and can create too much heat in the body. Red dates help tonify the qi and blood, which also replenishes qi and blood, and helps those who have too much “cold” in the body, helping it warm up.
- Use fresh ginger as well, to support yang deficiency. This is a powerhouse ingredient that warms and helps with qi circulation, especially around the middle burner (section around the stomach and contains all the digestive organs).
- The best protein for warming soups and to support yang deficiency is chicken. My Chinese doctor recommends chicken breast (versus chicken with bones) so that you can maximize all the protein possible from the meat. You can also use a black silkie chicken for this purpose.
- Drink a power soup weekly (if you’re over 40 for a woman, as men can start at 50 and still be OK), especially if it’s winter. This is also a power soup for women who have just had a baby as “the postpartum period is critical for maternal health status after childbirth ”.
Power soups and teas that replenish qi and yang (for yang deficiency)
- Yang, Xiao et al. “Maternal postnatal confinement practices and postpartum depression in Chinese populations: A systematic review.” PloS one vol. 18,10 e0293667. 30 Oct. 2023, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0293667
To answer your questions on what equipment I'm using, I've built a section here where you can find and explore what I'm using to make soups. Ingredients are a little harder, but I will do my best as I source them around. However, you can always message me on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or Facebook, and I will reply and try to point you in some direction!
A great help for fish or small bones in soups, including small ingredients such as barley, fox nuts, spices just to keep everything together.
A MUST HAVE in the kitchen! Energy saving, cost effective, and perfect for busy chefs! Check out my article here that explains it.
Another MUST HAVE in the kitchen for soups! It's so fine that it will scoop off the top oil and foam layer when using meats in your soup!
I use these types of stove top safe tea pots to make most of my herbal teas!