“Nurturing life” is the literal translation of Yǎngshēng, this little-known branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Yet Yǎngshēng holds an essential place. It is a set of methods and recommendations to preserve health and increase longevity. Because cultivating health is the primary goal of TCM, which considers health and not disease. In fact, Yǎngshēng is still taught today in Chinese medicine schools. Su Wen says, “Waiting to get sick before treatment is like waiting to get thirsty before digging a well, or waiting for the war to be declared to forge weapons. Is not it late? “
” Nurturing life. The expression itself is inspiring! It invites us to get closer to Nature and to respect its rhythms and rules. Understanding the essence of Yǎngshēng sheds light on how to transform our lives to live healthier … and happier.
It is within everyone’s reach to make the first step! This can start with reducing sugar and alcohol consumption, practicing an art, or an activity such as climbing, boxing, dancing, meditation, spending time in nature … the list is endless. Let’s explore the tracks that Yǎngshēng offers us.
Living in harmony with our environment
Health results from balance and harmony. Man can be in good health only if he lives in harmony with his environment, and in respect of the cycles of Nature. This includes going in the natural sense of life, or in other words “in the sense of the current”.
Who says harmony says moderation. Yǎngshēng thus recommends to ban excesses in all areas of life: food, sexuality, emotions, etc.
An excess of activity can be as harmful as an excess of sedentary. Harmony, and therefore health, is in a good balance. Yǎngshēng offers techniques that cover all ages of life, from birth to death. This includes :
- Improve diet
- Exercise regularly
- Practice an art
- Manage your rest
- Improve qualitatively your sex life
Indeed, when the mind is calm and clear, the disease cannot enter. “A man in peace will not get sick,” says an old Chinese saying.
Yǎngshēng attaches particular importance to adapting to the seasons. For example, in the spring, it is recommended to get up earlier, when the days are longer, and to exercise more at sunrise. In contrast, we should spend more time sleeping in winter, when the nights are longer. This adaptation to the seasons includes, of course, the diet. In the spring, which corresponds in Chinese medicine to the organ of the liver, one should favor foods that support the liver, or even practice fasting.
Breath is the source of life. It starts with the first cry of the newborn and stops with the last breath. However, if the baby breathes naturally by swelling the belly, while growing up, it limits its breathing from the nose to the level of the diaphragm!
But a deep breath is essential to life. The more we breathe consciously, the more we benefit from the benefits of breathing. The simple act of breathing fully allows us to be more relaxed, to better nourish our organs, and to live more serenely our emotions. Techniques like Prānāyāma help develop a full and conscious breath.
As for the Greek philosopher and physician Hippocrates, dietetics is the first of the disciplines of Chinese medicine. We cannot hope to be in good health if we eat the processed products offered by the food industry. In Cambodia, for example, the massive intake of white sugar and glutamate in food has become commonplace, killing just a thousand people!
Seasonal products that are freshly harvested and grown naturally should be selected. It is important to prepare them with love … and consume them with pleasure!
Control the body and mind
Life is movement, according to Taoist philosophy. Physical exercise is therefore recommended. It must be adapted to the age, and the season. The practice of qi gong is one of the royal ways to cultivate mind and body, with tàijíquán, meditation, yoga etc. Qi gong consists of a series of slow postures and movements that relax the joints and restore a harmonious flow of qì – or vital energy – throughout the body. The regular practice of qi gong can increase qì and control the circulation. Qi Gong is based on conscious breathing, relaxation, posture, and visualization. It is in itself an extremely powerful self-treatment practice. It helps calm the mind and better regulate our emotions.
Indeed emotional disorders, stress, are major factors of disease, especially in our contemporary world that has broken this harmony with Nature. But Yǎngshēng advocates taking care of our thoughts and emotions. This allows us to cultivate harmonious relationships with our fellow beings, an essential condition for health, longevity … and happiness!