Yin(阴)/Yang(阳)Theory in TCM

Author: Dr. Lee
Time: 2010/12/4 16:18:31

TCM understands that everything is composed of two complementary energies; one energy is yin and the other is yang. They are never separate; one cannot exist without the other. This is the yin/yang principle of interconnectedness and interdependence; it is not oppositional. The intertwined relationship is reflected in the classic black and white yin/yang symbol. No matter how you might try to divide this circle in half, the two sections will always contain both energies. The energies themselves are indivisible. From the TCM perspective, this is Universal law at its simplest and deepest.

The Theory of Yin and Yang contains no absolutes. The designation of something as yin or yang is always relative to, or in comparison with, some other thing. For example, the sun and daytime are considered to be yang in relation to the moon and the night, which are yin. However, early morning is yang in comparison to late afternoon, which is more yin. According to the Theory of Yin and Yang, male is yang; female is yin. Everything in the body is also under the control of the binary system of yin and yang. Because yin and yang have an inseparable relationship, if there is a problem with one, the other will definitely be affected.

Ideally, yin and yang should always remain in harmony, not just in balance. Understanding harmony is an important aspect of understanding TCM. Often, in Western understanding of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), the term "balance" is described as the desired state, however, in TCM, "harmony" is the ultimate goal. Although the words "balance" and "harmony" are sometimes used interchangeably, in TCM theory they are quite different: balance is merely the first step toward harmony. Two things can be balanced; they can be of equal proportion or have equal weight, and yet still be separate. Balance has to do with the relationship between two separate entities: for instance, the relationship between the Heart and Kidney. First, a relationship must be in balance; the next step is to achieve harmony. When two things are in harmony, their energies are not just equally proportioned but blended together into a seamless whole. When two elements exist in harmony, there is an ongoing, unconscious dance between them that happens naturally. When one predominates, the other recedes; this is homeostasis—internal harmony that is a dynamic condition. In a healthy system, harmony happens naturally—within the body itself, and between the body and external forces of Nature and the Universe. So, when nature's Qi undergoes change as it does seasonally, a person's internal Qi will respond automatically. If, for any reason, it can't make a smooth transition to the energy of the next season, TCM understands that illness will result.

In Western medicine, this lack of harmony can be seen in patients with hot flashes. Those who suffer from this condition during the day have a yang Qi or energy deficiency; those who suffer nightly hot flashes are experiencing a yin Qi deficiency. If a woman experiences hot flashes at both times, then both energies are deficient and must be strengthened.