The theory of yin and yang
02 Mar 2015

Extract from Dr Zhai’s book

 

The key to health in TCM is achieving and maintaining balance, especially the balance of ‘essential energies’ that flow through the body and are responsible for the harmonious working of the interrelated essential organs. In particular, TCM seeks to balance yin and yang energies.

 

Yin and yang are two opposite and complementary types of energy, thought to be present in the universe and within the human body. Yin and yang describe the interdependent relationship of opposing but complementary forces believed to be necessary for a healthy life. The yin-yang theory provides the rationale for the practice of TCM. The goal is to maintain a balance of yin and yang in all things. Each energy, while balancing the other, also has a trace of the other within itself – as symbolized by the contrasting dot within each section of the yin-yang symbol. So, although yin (the white part of the symbol) might be described as a more ‘feminine’ energy, women also have yang (the black part of the symbol) or ‘masculine’ energy within them – and vice versa for men. Each energy should ideally hold the force of the other in check and in balance, so neither energy overpowers the other. When imbalance does occur, there will be an ‘excess’ of yin or yang, which in turn will deplete the level of the opposite energy and make it ‘deficient’.

 

The yin-yang principle can be seen in all aspects of the physical and spiritual world. For example:

 

Yin symbolizes: Night, cold, dark, moon, rest, earth, feminine, internal, back, below. It symbolizes bodily functions related to nourishment, moisture and cooling. It is associated with passivity, sleep, calmness and intuition.

 

Yang symbolizes: Day, heat, light, sun, activity, heaven, masculine, external, front, above. It also symbolizes bodily functions related to movement, transformation and heat, and is associated with mental and physical activity and emotions such as anger and laughter.

 

But within the human body, as in nature, the balance between yin and yang isn’t fixed.

 

It fluctuates throughout our lives and with each passing day; it can be influenced by what we eat or drink as well as how we act, what we think and how we feel. TCM sees the body as an integrated whole in which mind and emotions have a significant effect on our physiology. In TCM, when we start treatment we classify the patient into a type (also known as a pattern or syndrome). We then seek to rectify overactive or underactive yin and yang in the internal organs, and rebalance whichever aspect is out of balance to restore the body to its normal functioning.