Yin and yang not only cycle through the seasons but throughout the 24 hours of each day. An awareness of the flow of yin and yang through the day can benefit both health and productivity. Even relationships can benefit from aligning our activities with this flow. Traditionally the day is divided into periods characterized by the strength of yin or yang across those hours.
If we begin the day with clock time, the first period is from 12 midnight to 3 AM. This is the time yin energy peaks. The night sky is at its darkest during this period. It should also be when the dream state is at its deepest.
From 3 AM to 6 AM while yin is still dominant, yang is starting to rise. This is the best time to get up and get ready to start the day. This time is actually the most beneficial for activities like yoga, tai chi or martial arts training. While people have a tendency to prefer either a yang or yin type of exercise, performing either during this time of day helps the body balance the effects of the exercise. This transition of rising yang in dominant yin is also why it is also a good time for meditation practice. Meditation itself is a yin activity, but the rising yang energy infuses our attention and concentration with its strength. Meditation in this period not only helps start the day in a calm and mindful state but can be done more effectively in harmony with the yin yang state at the time.
From 6 AM to 9 AM while yin is still dominant, the yang is rising, gaining in strength. Using the rising yang in combination with the post activity body state makes this the ideal time for a light,nourishing breakfast containing some protein. Proteins take the longest to digest and the rising yang will help this. Fueled for the day you will be better set to confront the work day and all it entails.
By the third period from 9 AM to 12 Noon, the rising yang is starting to peak. This active yang period is the best time to tackle the toughest tasks of the day, whether they involve dealing with difficult situations or clients or brainstorming on complex problems. Having completed your practice and fueled up you are in your best mental state for facing awkward or sensitive interpersonal dealings, like meeting on subjects where there is controversy. Make the most of the strength of the rising yang to carry you along and enhance your productivity.
After noon from 12 PM to 3 PM the yang is peaking. If your morning was intense and productive. it is now time to refuel. Lunch should be nourishing and contain eve more protein. At this time, the extra yang energy in the environment enables the digestive system to work at its peak to handle slow digesting proteins and larger portions of food. Overeating is not advised or necessary, a small amount of protein will do and a large heavy meal will only lead to that mid-afternoon drop in energy that so many experience.
This period is also the best for collaboration and inspiration. People instinctively schedule lunch meetings to discuss upcoming projects they are excited about without realizing this peak yang energy is working in their favor. Whether you have a meeting at lunch or not, if you have been working all morning be sure to take a little break. The still strong yang will carry you through to resuming work of less intensity for the rest of the day. By the end of the period the yin is again starting to descend and this is the time to work on tying up loose ends, working through emails and organizing paperwork and filing.
In the period from 3 PM to 6 PM yang has passed its peaked out and now yin is beginning to descend. It’s time now to finish wrapping up the simpler work tasks. In summer we may not feel this change of energy as much, deceived by the artificial day of Daylight Savings Time but in winter the earlier darkness tends to reinforce our harmony with the descending yin. It’s unfortunate so many people find themselves fighting traffic at this time, when they should be winding down and beginning to relax. They are working against the prevailing energy in addition to the frustration and hazard of such traffic. This creates a burden of stress at the worst possible time of day.
By the period from 6 PM to 9 PM yin has truly descended. Under a normal time scheme, the sun has set or is setting and the sky is transitioning in twilight. Since yin is associated with creativity this is one of the best times of the day to indulge in hobbies, DIY projects you enjoy or even doing homework for school. This is a time also for relaxation and unwinding from the day. Television can be fine if you are laughing at a comedy or fascinated by a stimulating documentary but TV news is not advised. This will raise stress levels, not something you need at any time, least of all before sleep. This is when you should be releasing the stress and difficulties of the day, not exposing yourself to more.
In the last hours of the day from 9 PM to 12 Midnight the yin energy will complete its descent. This is when we should be at our most relaxed and preparing for restorative sleep. Those who commonly stay up past 11PM can miss the benefits of merging with this flow into a deep and rewarding experience in the dream state. Those who have undergone training have learned to recall their dreams and use them to enhance waking life, It is known that preventing dream sleep leads to mental breakdown; we all dream. Even if your dream recall is poor, giving yourself time for a proper sleep cycle will ensure you get enough dream sleep to stay healthy. In addition, allotting some time for quiet reflection before sleep can help dispel any intense energies lingering from the events of the day. A brief meditation or gratitude exercise will often bring sleep very quickly.
Even a cursory view of how yin and yang ebb and flow in the day shows it takes very little change in most people’s schedule to come into harmony with and take advantage of this energy. We all seek every advantage in trying to run life’s obstacle course so why not use yin and yang to our benefit?