So What Is Yin and What is Yang?

We've all seen those really horrible Yin / Yang tattoos. Maybe you even have one (I won't tell a soul). Yin / Yang, opposites, balance, that's it right?

Nope. It is so much more. Here are the basics.

There are 4 properties of Yin and Yang.

  • Yin and Yang Oppose Each Other

Yin is the shady side of the hill, whereas Yang is the sunny side of the hill. Yin has feminine, cooling, dark, descending, interior qualities. Yang is  masculine, warming, bright, exterior, and ascending. Yin is referred to as the "substantial" meaning it has a physical quality, like blood. Yang is the "insubstantial." It is all energy, like Qi.

  • Yin Transforms into Yang Yang and Yang Transforms into Yin

If you look at the Yin / Yang symbol, you will notice that at a point where Yang (white) is in its fullest phase there is the smallest emergence of Yin (black). This exists vice versa. The phases transform into each other. Like Summer (Yang) transforming through Autumn into Winter (Yin).

  • Yin and Yang are Dependent on Each Other

Without one, there cannot be the other.

  • Yin and Yang Exist within Each Other

Notice the little dot of black Yin within the white Yang and the little dot of white Yang within the black of Yin? That is Yin embedded in the Yang, Winter moves into Summer through Spring. Spring is Yang emerging within Yin.

What does that have to do with medicine?

Now that we know the qualities of Yin and Yang, we can translate that into the dynamics that exist within our bodies. Lets take heat for example. Say you run hot. Is the heat because there is an excess of Yang or a deficiency of Yin?

Excess Yang heat has the same amount of Yin, but more Yang. It manifests physically as the Four Bigs - big heat / fever, big thirst, big pulse, big sweat.

Deficient Yin heat has the same amount of Yang but less Yin. Yin Deficient heat manifests as dryness, night sweats, five-center (palms of hands, soles of feet, center of body) heat, a tongue with no coat.

This basic evaluation of heat gives very specific and different treatment paths - to clear excess Yang heat or to nourish Yin.

In addition to physical symptoms, we evaluate the qualities of Yin and Yang in the pulses and on the tongue. We look at how the organ systems and meridian channels are in harmony (or lack there of) in relation to Yin and Yang. This fundamental component to Chinese medicine is why each individual is treated uniquely and constitutionally.