Traditional Chinese Medicine

Yin Yang- Revisited

There is no Absolute

On the surface, Yin and Yang are exact opposites. It is, however, always based on perspective, depending on what is the parameter of comparison. Nothing is ever strictly Yang or Yin.


Summer: Winter= Yang/Yin

Summer day: Summer night= Yang/Yin

One also has to take into consideration of geography and where a person is facing. The Chinese who developed Yin Yang principals lived in northern hemisphere. The sun only moves 23.5 degree north and south from the equator (Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn- it’s so fun to review geography lol). For a person northern hemisphere facing the sun, the south- east side is always warmer, thus the south and left side is considered Yang; the north and right side is considered Yin. The opposite is true for someone in the southern hemisphere.

#yingyang with respect to #geographic location #acupuncture #chinesemedicine #educated #tcvm #wordpressblogger

A post shared by Doctor with Needles (@pokeyourpet) on

Spectrum and Transformation.

Yin and Yang’s relationship to the body was developed based on observation of farmers in relationship to the sun and the ground. The head is closest to the sun, therefore it’s the most Yang part of the body, and the feet the most yin part of the body. In animals walking on four (and our human ancestors used to walk on four), the back is more Yang than the front , since the back faces the sun more and the front faces the ground.

I like to imagine that Yin and Yang are relative points on a spectrum of light. The brighter it gets, the more Yang it has and vice versa. Another way to try to remember is that heat rises while cold sinks. There could be Yin within Yang and Yang within Yin, all depends on where along the spectrum.

 (Random thoughts: Looking at the pictorial depiction of Yin and Yang in the cat’s body, I wonder if that is why cats always curl up in a ball to sleep, with their back exposed to receive the most Yang energy from the sun… I also wonder if that is the reason why my cat insists on sleeping with his butt towards my head, no matter how much I push him away…so his Yin butt can absorb Yang energy from my head? Or it could just be that he is being an ass)

Yin and Yang also fluctuate throughout the day and season, depending on the “temperature”. Daytime is considered Yang and night time Yin. However, even during daytime the  Yang energy increases from dawn to noon (Yang within Yang) and then decreases from noon to dusk (Yin within Yang) until it transforms completely to nighttime (Yin);  Throughout dusk to midnight, the temperature continues to drop, thus its Yin within Yin. From midnight to dawn (Yang within Yin), the temperature slowly rises until it transforms to daytime (Yang) again.

Balance and Moderation

Courtesy of Armin Hanisch,

I recall an evergreen Hong Kong actor named Andy Lau talking what he does to keep healthy- He never drinks water or any liquid that is excessively hot or excessively cold. This is a common knowledge in TCVM. Andy Lau’s appearance remains unchanged through his long career. Sure it could be plastic surgery, makeup  and photoshop, but it’s hard to argue he ever appears unnatural in any of his photos.

All energetic systems are forever seeking equilibrium. Yin and Yang moderate each other through endless cycles of energy transfer. Newton’s 3rd law- For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Consider this- when we exercise, our body heats up (Yang). Heart beats faster to move blood, filling the capillaries near the surface of the body. The expansion (Yang) of capillaries accommodates the increase in velocity and volume of blood flow. The heat radiates from our body into the environment, which, at room temperature, is relatively Yin to our body. Yin absorbs the Yang energy, preventing us from overheating. We forms sweat, tiny beads of moisture that can also absorb heat from our body, thus keeping us cooler. Our bodies do this automatically without us having to do anything.

Like the pendulum of a clock, the degrees of swing is always the same on each side. If for some reason Yin and Yang cannot stay balanced, then disease occur. At equilibrium, an energetic system can exist forever. Think of short sprinters versus distance runners. The former has an explosive load of energy to reach maximum velocity, but he/she cannot run long distance. A distance runner manages his/her workload in a rhythmic pace, thus he/she can keep going and going and going like the Duracell bunny.

Consumption, Creation and C0- existence

Yin and Yang do not live in isolation. Without Yin, Yang means nothing. Without Yang, Yin has no meaning.

cool- Yin-Yang-Cats
Courtesy of Alceu Arasaki,

I like to draw on my distant memory of physics, in that, in the very basic atomic level, all matters contains energy. When the molecules move against each other heat is produced. A matter (Yin) melts or boils, breaking down into smaller components and give birth to heat (Yang); When energy condensed, matter forms, such as vapour condensed into water, water condensed into ice.

Food, solid matters are Yin. We consume Yin, and through the metabolic process the food is converted to energy (Yang). The energy (Yang) is  used in physiological function, reorganizing molecules to create chemicals the body needs, proteins and collagen as building blocks of our bodies, circling back to solid matter (Yin), on and on it goes as the circle of life.

This simple cyclic nature of Yin and Yang exists in all phenomenon. It encompasses biology, ecology, chemistry physics and many others. Even within human history, it seems that we have the dark ages, the enlightenment ages, chaos and peace, disruption and orders. I find this pretty interesting and looking forward to continue with the course material and application in health management of my patients.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s