The concept of yin and yang is extremely important in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. This simple idea is thousands of years old, and is rooted in observations of the natural world as well as the human body.
Most people have heard of yin and yang, but don’t realise the impact that they can have on their daily lives, health and well-being. In this article, we will take a closer look at yin and yang, and how you can use them to your benefit.
Yin and Yang
Yin and yang are the two complementary, but opposing forces of nature. Yin represents night-time, winter, coldness, stillness, water, and the feminine. Yang represents daytime, summer, warmth, activity, fire and the masculine.
However, yin and yang are not two separate entities, but two halves of one whole. To fully understand this, we need to look at their Chinese characters. Yin is written 阴 and shows the radicals for a hill and the moon. Yang is written 阳 and it shows the same hill radical, but this time with the sun. Therefore yin and yang can be considered as the shady side and the sunny side of a mountain. Neither is completely yin or completely yang, one cannot exist without the other, and they transform into one another as the sun moves across the sky throughout the day.
This relationship is also well illustrated by the yin-yang symbol that most people recognise. A circle is split into two halves which are black (yin) and white (yang). The two halves appear to be flowing into one another, and each contains a dot of the other colour, showing that there is always yang within yin and also yin within yang.
Yin and Yang in the Human Body
Everything in the human body can be classified as more yin or more yang in nature. Yin applies to the bottom half, the front and the interior of the body. The yin organs are dense and solid and they include the Heart, Spleen, Lungs, Kidneys and Liver. Yang applies to the top half, the back and the exterior of the body. The yang organs are hollow and include the Stomach, the Intestines, the Bladder and the Gallbladder.
The yang within our bodies provides warmth for all of our physiological functions to take place, and the yin prevents it from overheating. Therefore, the most important condition of yin and yang within the body is that they should always be in balance with one another. If yin and yang become imbalanced for any reason, this is when illness can occur.
Yin, Yang and Your Health
As you now know, your health depends on a constant state of harmony between yin and yang. For example, if your yin energy is weakened, this can leave your yang energy unbalanced and lead to symptoms such as fever, restlessness, irritability and insomnia. If your yang energy is weakened, there will be nothing to warm and power your yin organs and you may suffer from symptoms such as chills, exhaustion and poor digestion.
Most people tend to naturally have a more yin (cold) or a more yang (hot) body type. Whether you have a yin or yang body type influences your health and the type of diseases that you will be prone to. More yin people tend to suffer from conditions such as fatigue, cold hands and feet, fluid retention and so on. More yang people are prone to conditions such as high blood pressure, insomnia and headaches.
Once you know your body type, you can start making appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes. This will help you to keep your yin and yang more balanced and improve your general health and well-being.
Balancing Your Yin and Yang
The basic idea behind yin and yang is very simple, and luckily this means that it is easy to keep them in balance too!
One of the most effective ways of keeping yin and yang running smoothly is to maintain a good balance between activity and rest (this applies to both physical and mental activities). Exercise regularly, but ensure that you get enough downtime and go to bed early to ensure that you get enough sleep.
Eat a wide variety of foods with different colours, flavours and textures every day. If you eat more yin foods such as green vegetables, use yang cooking methods such as roasting or stir-frying. If you eat more yang foods such as warming spices or meat, use yin cooking methods such as stewing. Eat more cooling foods such as cucumber, citrus fruits and watermelon in summer, and more warming foods such as root vegetables, garlic and onions in winter. If you have a very yin body type, avoid cold or raw food altogether, and if you have a very yang body type, avoid stimulants such as caffeine, chilli and alcohol.
Pay attention to the seasons and act appropriately. Wrap up warm in winter and stay cool in summer. However, you should remember not to overdo either of these things. If you are so hot that you start to sweat, then your body is being cooled rather than warmed. And if you cool yourself too much with iced drinks and cold food, you could hinder your digestion.
Another great way to keep your yin and yang in balance is to go for regular acupuncture treatments. Your acupuncturist will be able to detect minor imbalances before you develop symptoms and may even be able to stop an illness in its tracks. Prevention is always better than cure, and according to Chinese medicine, keeping yin and yang in harmony is one of the best ways to do this.
To find more about yin and yang, identify your body type, and learn how you can adapt your lifestyle to suit this, just contact us for a chat or book an appointment today. We will be more than happy to answer any questions.