The Concept of Yin and Yang

The concept of Yin and Yang is one of the basic principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This symbol represents the restoration and maintenance of health by keeping the body in balance through the interplay of constantly changing forces. Yin and Yang comprise these two opposing, yet inseparable forces. You have probably heard of these concepts but may only have a fuzzy idea of what these terms mean. Here is a brief illustrative definition.
  • Shady side of hill/ sunny side of hill – there is one hill with two aspects
  • The shady side of the hill is cool, moist, less active. This is the yin side, within yang.
  • The sunny side of the hill is warm, dry, more active. This is the yang side, within yin.
  • As the sun moves across the sky, the sun and shade also move across the hill.

In this example, the hill is constantly changing, by having variations of more or less sun or shade. It is always in flux and never remains exactly the same. The Yin and Yang symbol exemplifies this process as Yin literally means "dark side of the mountain" and refers to nourishment, enduring, moving inward; Yang means "sunny side of the mountain" and encompasses active movement, growth and outward energy. All of nature can be viewed as an interplay of the two, where one cannot exist without the other.

How does the concept of Yin and Yang relate to health and TCM?

Chinese medicine is a holistic practice in which no one part of the body is seen as separate from the whole person. The physical body expresses this relationship, whereas nothing is completely Yin or Yang; rather, one part of the body is always viewed in relation to its complement. For example, in digestion, the intake of food is Yin (nourishment) and through the Yang activity of the stomach and other organs, it is turned into Energy (Qi) that can be used by the body. If the there is not enough heat (Yang) for the stomach to digest the food, and the Yang energy decreases, often caused by improper diet, stress, or illness, then the Yin energy predominates and the body lacks the "fire" to digest the food. This creates an imbalance in the body and results in symptoms including sinus congestion, loose stools with undigested food and fatigue. The nutrition of the body is compromised. This lack of nourishment then impacts other parts of the body.

The practitioner in TCM is focused on assessing the functioning of the system to determine how to best re-balance these forces and allow the body's innate ability to strengthen and heal itself. In the above example of the digestive system, the acupuncturist will select points to warm and move the Yang energy allowing the Yin energy to stabilize within the digestive system. Moxibustion and herbal formulas are also used to support this treatment. This brings about a complete digestion and re-balances the energies. In addition to acupuncture treatments, lifestyle adjustments such as exercise, dietary improvements and stress reduction are necessary in order for the Yin and Yang energies to remain regulated and balanced.

About My Practice
My dedication to Chinese Medicine comes from experiencing my own healing process with the medicine. Treatment went to the root cause of my imbalances and I no longer use conventional medicines that treat only the symptoms and have an adverse effect on my life. Continue Reading...
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