The Five Vital Concepts in Traditional Chinese Medicine: Yin-Yang

Posted by Kim
July 27, 2021

Yin-Yang in Traditional Chinese Medicine

While many people have heard the term yin-yang or know it’s famous symbol, few understand what yin-yang truly is.

In Chinese philosophy, Yin-yang, which translates into “dark-bright,” describes the notion that everything in nature consists of two paradoxical phases or energies. 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the concept of Yin and Yang serves as the foundation for understanding health, as well as diagnosing and treating illnesses. Yinyang is first referenced in the I Ching (Book of Changes), which was written around 700BC. According to it, all phenomena is composed of two opposite, but mutually interconnected forces, known as yin and yang.

The dual relationship of Ying and Yang demonstrates that everything in the universe exists as connected and complementary, yet opposite elements. For example, Female (Yin) + Male (Yang), Darkness (Yin) + Light (Yang), Rest (Yin) + Activity (Yang), Right (Yin) + Left (Yang).

To better understand the concepts of Yin and Yang, it helps to know about their Four Aspects.

The Four Aspects describe the relationship between Yin-Yang. Yin and Yang are simultaneously:

1. OppositesYin and Yang are Opposites. A common yin and yang relationship is day and night. While opposites, they can only be understood as a relationship. For example, Darkness is relative to Ying, while Yang is relative to Light. The balance between the two is always shifting and progressing in a cyclical fashion.

2. Interdependent– While opposite, Yin and Yang are interdependent. One cannot exist without the other. Yin and Yang are mutually dependent on each other. One cannot exist without the other. Everything that has yin, must have yang, and vice versa.

3. Mutually TransformativeYin and yang are constantly in a state of flux and affect each other. If one changes, the other follows. Nature, by definition, cannot be static. Just as a state of total Yin is reached, Yang begins to grow. For Example: tthere is no day without night.

4. Mutually ConsumingYin and Yang are naturally balanced, but are continuously changing. The change is typically harmonious, but can become imbalanced. There are four possible states of imbalance:

Yin and yang are in constant flux. If one becomes unbalanced in the body, illness occurs. For example, since yin is cold, an excess of yin can cause illnesses such as insomnia and dry-mouth. Conversely, a yang deficiency can cause cold limbs and a sickly-complexion. Good health then, is maintained by balancing yin and yang.

Yin-Yang + Fertility

Chinese medicine relies on the concept of Yin and Yang. But what does it mean and how does it affect fertility?

If you’re focused on improving your fertility, living by the principles of Chinese medicine can make a big difference. It centres on the concept of Yin and Yang, which is a kind of balance.

One way of understanding the concept of Yin and Yang is to imagine the sun shining on a hill. You have a sunny side and a shady side. The sunny side represents the hot Yang energy of life, like fire, and the shady side represents the cool Yin energy of life, like water. Too little water and the fire will get out of control. Too much water and the fire will go out.

The cycle of Yin and Yang

A 24-hour period follows the cycle of Yin and Yang, as do the annual seasons. Summer and midday are seen as representing the peaks in Yang energy when the sun is at its hottest. They’re the times of most light and therefore, according to Chinese Medicine, the times we should be most active. Winter and midnight, being their counterpoints in the season and 24-hour cycle, represent the most intense times of Yin energy. They’re the points of greatest darkness, therefore, when we should be resting and replenishing.

Yin and Yang are in a continual cycle. As Yin declines, so Yang grows and vice versa. The two energies are interconnected in that they consume each other but also feed each other just as we see in the transition seasons of spring and autumn.

Living by Yin and Yang principles

On a day to day basis, living by Yin and Yang principles quite simply means being active during the day and resting at night, but there is much more to it than that. We need to have an awareness of the right types of foods to eat and the correct level of exercise, both according to the season and our own constitution. If we find ourselves regularly busy at night – socialising or working – then we are using up our restful Yin energy. We are burning the ‘midnight oil’ and not giving ourselves the time to rest as we should in the evenings. This will lead to symptoms of dryness such as thirst, dry skin and restless sleep. By the same token, catching up on sleep during the day will cause our Yang energy to drop and not reach its full potential, thereby making us feel lethargic, heavy and generally a bit lack lustre.

To best nourish ourselves and enhance our overall health, we need to be aware of these cycles and how they can affect us.

Living by the cycle of Yin and Yang and the world around us is a broad principle and something we should always have in mind. It is a principle to help us live our lives in a more balanced way and should encourage us to regularly monitor our own health in relation to the seasons, the time of day and our own constitution.

To find out more about the key concepts in Traditional Chinese Medicine, click on the links below…

Find Out more about ACUPUNCTURE for Health

Drop us an email and we will get back to you shortly!

About Kimberley

Kimberley, Acupuncturist and Clinic Director at Life + Lemons, is a registered TCM (Traditional Chinese Medical) Acupuncturist, passionate about helping women reclaim their feminine edge. After graduating with a First Class Honors in York, she has undertaken specialist training in the area of pain management, natural conception, IVF support, menopause + pelvic pain (endometriosis/dysmenorrhea).


Share this post

Read more articles

Traditional acupuncture has long been revered for its ability to engage the body's energy pathways, or meridians, to facilitate healing and maintain wellness. Electroacupuncture advances...
Male fertility is a crucial aspect of conception, yet it remains a topic often shrouded in mystery and stigma. For couples trying to conceive, understanding...
As advancements in women's health care flourish, Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy emerges as a groundbreaking option, showing promise in easing the relentless pain associated...

Subscribe for updates

Use the form below to subscribe to our mailing list for latest updates, events and more. 

Send a message

Got a question or unsure where to start? Use the form below to send us a message today and start the conversation.

Life + Lemons have the utmost respect for your privacy and you can rest assured that your information will never be passed on to any 3rd party. We endeavour only to contact you intermittently with relevant information. For more information, please see our privacy policy.

Book your discovery call

We are now taking new patients and offering a free 20 minute discovery consultation giving you an opportunity to speak to a practitioner and better understand how acupuncture may be able to help you.

We look forward to speaking with you soon

Looking to book your next appointment?

Click here for online bookings

Please provide your primary phone number so we can contact you directly so schedule your free initial consultation.
Please check the boxes that you are primarily seeking help and support with.
Providing further information about your current picture of health will allow us to better tailor your treatment options moving forward.
Life + Lemons have the utmost respect for your privacy and you can rest assured that your information will never be passed on to any 3rd party. We endeavour only to contact you intermittently with relevant information.