Yin & Yang Explained: How It's Relevant to Your Health
Updated: Feb 14
According to Taoism, one will live a long and healthy life if they live in harmony with nature. This harmony is typically defined in balancing yin and yang.
Most of us have probably seen the "yin-yang" image floating around the internet or history books. Traditionally, it's circular and split into white and black (or red!) each side containing a small dollop of the color on the opposing side. The black side of the image represents yin and the white side represents yang. It hails from Taoism and the image displayed below is a special Ensō edition of the yin and yang symbol.
What defines yin and yang?
Yin represents earth, night time, darkness, coldness, passivity, water, the internal as well as the feminine. Traditionally, the word describes the dark side of the mountain.
Yang, on the other hand, describes the sunny side of the mountain. It often refers to the heavens/sky, daytime, activity, fire, the external as well as the masculine.
Now let's have a chat about these white and back spots on each side of the image.
The smaller colored dots on each side represent how yin is within yang and how yang is within yin. This means, for example, that night cannot exist without day and day cannot exist without night. The two are opposites yet they complete, complement and define one another.
The same goes for other dualities such as:
Male and Female
Motion and Stillness
Heaven and Earth
Activity and Passivity
Fire and Water
External and Internal
Masculine and Feminine
How is the yin and yang model relevant to your health?
Similar to Taoism, Traditional Chinese Medicine is based off of the principles of yin and yang as well as living in harmony with nature. When yin or yang go out of balance, a skilled practitioner will examine yin and yang to find the source of disharmony. Disharmony can manifest itself as a disease, injury or shift in energy. All of this can have physical, mental or spiritual effects.
Yin and yang are the ABCs in examining the patient's condition. Similar to the scientific method in Western Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture have a system for checking disharmonies of various systems throughout the body. A practitioner investigates by checking the body, asking a series of questions and checking your tongue. All of these tools serve to diagnose a person's physical state and determine how the practitioner intends to treat the patient. Traditional acupuncture relies on this system in order to provide you with a treatment especially fit for your state of mind and body.
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