Yin and Yang – TCM Series

Tomorrow at 7pmSLT we are starting the in-depth traditional Chinese medicine series with a discussion on yin and yang! Below are the notes, which you can also get a copy of in world at the venue. The squares you’ll see are where textures exist, which are in the SL version and will be shown in world.

Next post is the intro notes for the discussion on Wednesday at LnL, 7pmSLT.

I’ve started reading “The Tao of Pooh” on Sunday’s at noonSLT, at my new home. You should come join us – it’s great fun and we all learn a lot. I also threw a house warming party last Sunday. It was great fun, with DJ Strix spinning the awesome tunes, and about 20 people came. I’m thinking I’ll be hosting another one of those some time, although maybe not soon.

Welcome everyone to the Traditional Oriental Medicine Series. Thank you for coming! Please tip if you like what you see! All tips are split between the venue and myself, in order to keep these events going and enable the growth of the sim. The tip jar is one of the candles on the table. The other two will subscribe you to my group and give you a schedule of upcoming events, respectively.

Thank you for visiting Peaceful Dragon Oriental Medicine Centre! The centre is currently under construction, but is intended to be an OM learning centre. If you would like to help in setting up the learning centre please contact Xandria Winterwolf.

I’d like to thank Xandria for letting us use her sim. It’s beautiful!

I just want to remind everyone that none of the information presented here is advice and therefore should not be put into practice without first consulting a professional.

This session is the start of the indepth series, focusing on one aspect of TCM at a time. If you are interested in getting the notes from the three introductory sessions please IM me. I’ve put a box on the table that will give you a copy of the notes for today’s topic, textures included.

Today the focus is on Yin and Yang.

Sources: “Traditional Chinese Medicine” by Daniel Reid, “Natural Healing Wisdom & Know-how” by Amy Rost, http://www.sacredlotus.com/theory/yinyang.cfm, http://www.tcmbasics.com/

Yin-yang is the most fundamental concept of TCM. In Chinese Medicine, treating illness is the process of rebalancing Yin and Yang. This is done through acupuncture, herbs, bodywork (massage, Tuina, Tai Qi, Gua Sha, cupping etc.) and Qigong.

The theory of yin-yang describes the properties of energy. Yin and yang are not two different types of energy, but rather opposite and complementary qualities of the same basic energies. The terms “yin” and “yang” first appeared in the Book of Change (I Ching) around 1250 BCE. The original meaning was “the shady side of a hill” and “the sunny side of a hill”. A good way to think of this is to picture the sun moving through the sky, turning one side of the hill from sun to shade, and vice versa. All things in the Universe are either Yin or Yang. However, nothing is ever all Yin or all Yang, but a balance between the two that is ever changing. As the I Ching states, “The interaction of yin and yang is called the Way [Tao], and the resulting creative process is called change.”

In general, every treatment modality aims to balance yin and yang by using the following methods: TonifyYang/Tonify Yin/Disperse excess Yang/Disperse excess Yin
(In practice, depending on the condition, strategies may be combined, for example: disperse excess Yin & tonify Yang)

You are probably all familiar with the circle symbol for yin and yang, but a less common depiction is the hexagrams found in the I Ching. Hexagrams are sets of six lines, that can be broken or unbroken . The broken lines are “yin,” the unbroken lines “yang.” Something is yin when it is female or dark, earthly, passive etc. and yang when it is male or light, heavenly, active etc. The 64 hexagrams are indicated by a number that is universal. All translations and commentaries to the I Ching use the same numbers. They also have a name that may differ.

The following slides show the hexagrams used in the I Ching.

The properties of Yin-Yang are as follows:
Yang: vibrant, light, active, warm, male, left
Physiological: upper part of body, exterior, back, functional
Yin: quiet, inactive, cold, liquid, female, right
Physiological: lower part of body, interior, abdomen

There are four main theories of Yin-Yang:
1. One cannot exist without the other.
The Tai Ji (Supreme Ultimate) diagram shows the relationship of Yin & Yang and illustrates interdependence on Yin & Yang. Nothing is totally Yin or totally Yang. Just as a state of total Yin is reached, Yang begins to grow. Yin contains seeds of Yang and vice versa. They constantly transform into each other. For Example: no energy without matter, no day without night.
The classics state: “Yin creates Yang and Yang activates Yin”. Each pair exists in a state of mutual dependence, and without its opposite it could not exist. The interdependent relationship of yin and yang is described in the Suwen, “Yin is installed in the interior as the material foundation for yang, while yang remains on the exterior as the manifestation of the yin function.”

2. One changes into the other.
One can change into the other, but it is not a random event, happening only when the time is right. Taking the transformation of the seasons as an example, in terms of the Yin-Yang theory, the process of transition from winter cold through spring warmth into summer heat demonstrates the process of a lessening of yin leading into an increasing of yang. While the transition from the heat of summer to the cold of winter is the lessening of yang leading to an increasing of yin.

3. They are opposite to the other.
Either side of the two opposites always restricts and acts on the other. This process of mutual restriction and interaction is the operation of yin and yang, without which change would not occur. Thus the two opposites of yin and yang do not exist as an entity in a still and unconcerned state. They constantly interact with each other, hence the alteration and development of an object. They are either on the opposite ends of a cycle, like the seasons of the year, or, opposites on a continuum of energy or matter. This opposition is relative, and can only be spoken of in relationships. For example: Water is Yin relative to steam but Yang relative to ice. Yin and Yang are never static but in a constantly changing balance.

4. Mutual consumption of yin and yang.
Relative levels of Yin-Yang are continuously changing. Normally this is a harmonious change, but when Yin or Yang are out of balance they affect each other, and too much of one can eventually weaken (consume) the other. The Suwen comments, “Extreme cold will bring about heat, and extreme heat will induce cold…”; furthermore, “Excessive yin may cause yang syndromes or tend to be transformed into yang and vice versa.”
The mutual transformation of yin and yang is often seen during the development of a disease. For example, if a patient has a constant high fever, which is suddenly lowered, accompanied by a pale complexion, cold limbs, extremely feeble pulse (the danger symptoms of yin cold syndromes), we may say that the disease has transformed from a yang syndrome into a yin syndrome. Under these circumstances, proper emergency treatment should warm the limbs to make the pulse normal. The yang qi will recover, and the danger will be removed. Thus yin syndromes can change into yang syndromes. Clinical practice provides other examples of the mutual transformation of yin and yang. It is common in clinical practice to have exterior syndromes transform into interior syndromes or vice versa and shi (excess) syndromes may change into xu (deficiency) syndromes or vice versa.

Four possible states of imbalance:
Preponderance (Excess) of Yin
Preponderance (Excess) of Yang
Weakness (Deficiency) of Yin
Weakness (Deficiency) of Yang

Clinical signs and symptoms can be interpreted via Yin-Yang theory. When Yin Yang are in dynamic balance and relating harmoniously, there are no symptoms to observe. When Yin and Yang are out of balance, the symptoms can be classified.

Viewing the body as a whole, the portion above the waist pertains to yang and that below belongs to yin; the exterior of the body is associated with yang, while the interior is associated with yin; the back is considered yang and the front, yin; the lateral aspect is yang and the medial, yin. The zang-fu organs also have yin and yang aspects, the six fu organs are considered yang while the zang organs are yin.

Yin Deficiency: hypo-activity, chronic disease/gradual onset, slowly changing symptoms, quiet, lethargy, sleepiness, wants to be covered, lies curled up, cold limbs and body, pale face, weak voice, no desire to talk, shallow/weak breathing, no thirst/wants warm drinks, copious/clear urine, loose stools (fluids not transformed), clear, coious secretions, excessive moisture, degenerative disease, pale/white coated tongue, empty pulse.

Yang excess: hyperactivity, acute disease/rapid onset, rapid pathological changes, restlessness, insomnia, throws off bedclothes, lies stretched out, hot limbs and body, red face, loud voice, talkative, course breathing, thirst esp. for cold drinks, scanty/dark urine, constipation (damage to fluids by heat), thick/sticky/white/yellow secretions, excessive dryness (throat, skin, eyes, etc.), inflammatory disease, red/yellow coated tongue, full pulse.

Although Yin-Yang is the essential foundation for understanding symptoms and signs, the above list of signs is too general. We need to distinguish further to get exact diagnosis. i.e., which organ is involved, which pathogen is involved, which channel is involved. A trained practitioner will know where to start, and how to narrow down the categories.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the physiological functions of the organs and their substances are inseparably related to yin and yang. For example, the activities (yang) of a particular organ are based on that organ’s substance (yin) and when either of these aspects is absent, the other cannot function. If yin and yang cannot maintain relative balance and interaction, they will separate from each other ending the life that depends upon them. As the Suwen says, “When yin keeps balance with yang and both maintain a normal condition of qi, then health will be high-spirited. A separation of yin and yang will lead to the exhaustion of essential qi.”

The Yin-Yang theory holds that disease is a result of an imbalance between yin and yang which leads to the hyperactivity or hypoactivity of yin and yang. The occurrence and the development of a disease are also related to zheng qi (body resistance or antipathogenic factors) and xie qi (pathogenic factors). The Yin-Yang theory can be used to generalize the interacting relations between body resistance and antipathogenic factors. Pathogenic factors are divided into yang-natured pathogenic factors and yin-natured pathogenic factors, while zheng qi includes yin essence and yang qi.

In medical treatment, the theory of yin and yang is not only used to decide the principles of treatment. This theory is also generally applied to the properties, flavor and action of Chinese herbal medicine as a guide to the clinical administration of herbs. For example, drugs with cold, cool or moist properties are classified as yin and drugs with the opposite properties are classified as yang. Herbs with sour, bitter, or salty flavors are yin, while those with pungent, sweet, or insipid flavors are yang. Drugs with an astringent or descending action are yin and those with an ascending and dispersing action are yang.


As a brief summary of what we spoke about I give you these five points:

1. All events and phenomena have two complementary polar aspects, called yin and yang, and this polatiry is the basis of all organic structures and their functions.

2. Every yin-yang system contains myriad constituent subsystems and also is contained within myriad yin-yang supersystems.

3. Yin and yang mutually give rise to one another and are functionally dependent on one another. Their activities are always relative and their qualities complementary.

4. Yin and yang naturally balance and regulate each other. Their reltaive balance determines the equilibrium, stability, and functional viability of the whole human energy system and each of its organic subsystems.

5. Yin and yang are transmutable and mutually transform into each other. Their transformations initiate all creation, growth, change, and decline.

That comes to the end of the notes. Are there any questions or comments?


3 thoughts on “Yin and Yang – TCM Series

  1. It was an excellent discussion, Chrae. I have learned much from the study of yin yang and this takes it to a new level…I had no idea it was connected to the I-Ching.

    Thanks for the class notes as it was a crashy day indeed. Do you also have the graphics available? The Yin Yang symbol you used I’ve not seen before, and I would love the graphics of the I-Ching you used.

    Thanks, Chrae! ❤

    • Chraeloos says:

      I’ll upload them to my flickr account for everyone to see. I’ve also got them in world if you’re interested in having the textures.

      I’m very glad you like it, and are learning a lot. I know I am learning a lot too!

      Thank you for your comment, I really appreciate knowing what people think about the discussions 🙂 It means a lot!

    • Chraeloos says:

      Ok, here’s the link to find them on flickr. I’ll add more as I go! And maybe a few extras 😉 hahaha. Enjoy!

      Stages of Yin and Yang

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