The concept of Yin-Yang is probably the most important theory of Chinese Medicine and its references date back as far as 700 B.C by the “Book of Changes” (Yi Jing).
Everything in the world, from the most complex to the most simple, can be expressed in terms of Yin and Yang. Life is the result of the movement and interaction of them. In creation, they unite, when life ceases to exist, they separate.
To live in harmony with Yin and Yang means life.
To live against Yin and Yang means death
To live in harmony with Yin and Yang will bring peace
To live against Yin and Yang will bring chaos
(Nei Jing – Classical of Chinese Medicine)
One common analogy to the concept of Yin and Yang is a mountain that is bathed in sunlight in one side while the other is in deep shadow. Yang is “the sunny side of the hill” and Yin is “the shady side of the hill”. Where there is sunshine there must be shade.
Yin and Yang are opposite and interdependent like night and day. They consume and transform into each other as day becomes night and night becomes day.
Yang is Fire, Summer, Heat, Exterior, Rising, Masculine, Rapid
Yin is Water, Winter, Cold, Interior, Descending, Feminine, Slow
Within the body, the relationship between Yin and Yang is constantly changing. When we are young, we are Yang, very energetic and active; When we grow older, we slow down (not always!!) becoming more Yin. During summer (Yang) we spend a lot of time doing outdoor activities, such as gardening. In winter (Yin), we switch to Yin mode by spending time indoors reading and watching TV.
Yin and Yang and Chinese Medicine
The concept of Yin and Yang is fundamental to the practice of Chinese Medicine in terms of understanding, diagnosing, and treating health issues. In order to diagnose the nature of someone’s condition, an acupuncturist is always accessing the relative balance between his/her Yin and Yang.
Too much Yang injuries Yin, the same way, too much Yin damages Yang. For example, excessive work (Yang) without rest (Yin) will injury Yin. Excessive consumption of alcohol leads to euphoria (Yang), but it can quickly be followed by a hangover (Yin). Excess heat (Yang) in the body dries up the fluids leading to constipation, dry eyes and skin and thirst. Excess cold (Yin) will accumulate fluids leading to watery eyes, runny nose, lethargy and diarrhoea. The occurrence of any disease is, fundamentally speaking, due to the imbalance of Yin and Yang.
Cultivating equilibrium is one of the main principles of Chinese Medicine. A balance in diet, exercise, work and emotional life is the essence of prevention in Chinese Medicine.