Yin-Yang Theory in Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture

In this post you'll learn:

- How the theory of yin-yang encompasses all things.

- That the interaction between yin and yang exists at all times within all things.

- The two main ways Yin-Yang theory is used.

- The beginning, developing and changing nature of all natural things.

The Theory of Yin-Yang and symbol have roots in T'aoism. An ancient Chinese religion and philosophy that led to the accumulation of medical knowledge that is todays Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Yin-Yang theory and philosophy is rooted in holism - the belief that everything that exists is in constant relationship with itself and everything around it.

At the basis Yin is used to describe things that represent the dark, nourishing, cool, winter, feminine aspect of the divine, and yang represents the warmth, growth, summer, male, expansion aspect of existence.

But this expands far past just light and dark.

As you can see represented by the small circles within the Yin-Yang symbol.

One cannot exist without the other & there is always a little bit of each within the other.

Yin-Yang Theory:

Yin and Yang are not solid physical objects,

- Yin and Yang are used as descriptive terms.

- Yin and Yang describe the relationship dynamic between two points.

Yin-Yang Theory includes the following patterns and relationships.

-> Opposition and interdependence.

-> Restriction and reciprocity.

-> Wane-wax and transformation.

-> Balance and imbalance of yin and yang.

Opposition and Interdependence of Yin-Yang

Yin and Yang both oppose and rely on each other.

Opposition: Means Yin and Yang are used to describe contradictory attributes of opposing aspects in ALL kinds of things and natural phenomena. heaven/earth, active/static, entering/exiting, up/down

Interdependence: Indicates that only through the existence of its counterpart can the opposite exist, and no one can exist solitarily without its counterpart.

Restriction and Interdependence of Yin-Yang

The restriction and reciprocity of Yin and Yang are conflicting, but both can exist at times.

Restriction: indicates the two opposite sides of yin and yang present with relationship of mutual restriction and control - basically meaning they keep each other in check.

Reciprocity: means because Yin and Yang rely on each other, Yin and Yang often express the relationship of mutual generation and promotion.

There is an ancient proverb that explains “yin cannot generate without yang and yang cannot develop without yin.”

This generating and promoting relationship is what we refer to as reciprocity of Yin-Yang.

The two opposite and interdependent sides of yin and yang are not in a state of stillness but are in a constant state of change.

Wane-Wax and Transformation of Yin-Yang

Wane-wax of Yin-Yang (quantitative change) and transformation of Yin-Yang (qualitative change) are two inseparable phases in the entire process of development and change of a thing.

Wane-Wax is the prerequisite for transformation & transformation is the outcome of Wane-Wax


Yin is waning while Yang is waxing OR Yang is waning while Yin is waxing.

-> Wane means decrease, and wax means increase.

As per the theory of mutual restriction of Yin-Yang as mentioned above, if any side of yin or yang gets too "weak" to restrict the other side, the opposite will expand, and become hyperactive. While vice-versa - if any side of Yin-Yang gets too strong, it will inevitably over-restrict the other side, and thus the latter declines, even gets inferior.

As per the theory of reciprocity of Yin and Yang as mentioned above, if any side of yin or yang gets too deficient to promote its counterpart, over time the counter part will become weak too: and both Yin and Yang will fail to be promoted. While vice-versa - if one is strong and able to promote its counterpart, the counterpart will also become abundant.

Transformation: This means one side of Yin-Yang under certain conditions can transform itself into the other -> so yin may change into yang and yang into yin.

This may occur during what we call “the extreme phase” in change. The transformation of Yin to Yang or Yang to Yin must meet very specific conditions. If a thing does not reach to a certain stage, its yin or yang attribute will not change.

Balance and Imbalance of Yin-Yang

The motion and change of things is absolute and endless,

and is not without order or disorder.

Yin-Yang balance is similar to the homeostasis of the body - when the Wane-Wax of Yin-Yang, and transformation of Yin-Yang can be kept within a healthy range Yin-Yang will stay balanced, and then change will flow smoothly.

A balanced state of Yin and Yang means that a harmoniously state is maintained because the proper changes are happening at the correct times and ensuring the other is both kept in check (restriction&reciprocity) and nourished (wax-wane/transformation).

Imbalance of Yin-Yang means that the change in strength of Yin or Yang becomes too strong or too weak, and falls beyond the boundaries of a healthy balance leading to various disfunctions.

So, Yin and Yang are not isolated and still, but mutually relative, effective and casual.

They exist not in a state of equilibrium, but are the dynamic relation of constant motions happening in our daily lives inside and outside of our bodies, and in the cosmos around us.

Yin and Yang are not physical or literal objects, and though used as descriptor words, cannot actually be measured against anything but itself.

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