Most people will recognise the iconic yin yang circular symbol with an inverted ‘S’ separating each half. Black on one side (yin) with a small white circle (yang) and the reverse on the opposite side. It’s used a lot but it’s meaning is often misunderstood.
It could be defined as two halves of a whole. Nothing is completely Yin or completely Yang. Yin and Yang are interdependent so they never stand alone. They are opposing yet complementary. There is always some yang in yin (the white dot in the black) and vice versa. The nature of yin and yang constantly changes over time, and is influenced by many external factors. In relation to a person’s health, the acupuncturists job is to bring it back into balance.
But what is yin? And what is yang?
The word Yin is translated as the “shady side” and Yang “sunny side”. In TCM the yin element is cool, calm, slow, dark and feminine, the yang is warm, dynamic, moving and bright. As an example this concept is especially important for Chinese healing practices. So while it’s great to be warm, dynamic and moving, an excess of Yang can results in a fever and a deficiency would leave you shivering. And it’s wonderful if you’re feeling calm, cool and zen-like but an excess of Yin could mean suffering from water retention or a deficiency with night sweats. It’s all about balance.
When it comes to life, we can tend to think in absolutes: I’m always like this or never like that… But the balance of Yin and Yang can be skewed in relation to outside influences, so if the sun shines or you have a less stressful day at work, life can feel quite different. We are in constant flux and so is our health.
So while Yin and Yang aren’t the only factors in reaching a diagnosis, your acupuncturist is looking to achieve a level of homeostasis in relation to you as an individual. Neither too much nor too little yin or yang. So for example, maintain enough yang to keep you moving forward but not so much that you’re manic. And strengthen your yin so you’re calm but not so that you’re comatose!
Life offers many challenges and it can be hard to keep it all together. Acupuncture can help to keep you in balance. After a few treatments, clients often report feeling lighter and more grounded.
And we could all do with a bit of that.