Properties of Yin and Yang
By describing how things work in relation to the universe and to each other, the yin yang theory establishes a dynamic thought process that can be applied to everyday life.
||Yin and Yang oppose each other.
Yin yang theory believes everything has its dual aspect, the yin and the yang. The two aspects interact and control each other to keep in a continuous state of dynamic balance. For example, heat can dispel cold, while cold can reduce heat. If there is not enough heat, it will become cold and vice versa. Another example is the physiological functions in our body. Both the excitatory (yang) and the inhibitory (yin) functions are in mutually controlled balance. If the dynamic balance is disturbed, that one aspect becomes excessive, health problems will occur.
This process of mutual interaction and restriction is the operation of everything in the world.
|| Yin and Yang mutually create and depend on each other.
Yin and yang are bound together to form a whole, they cannot exist without each other or stand alone. They depend on each other for definition and can only be measured by comparing themselves to each other. For example, heat ceases to exist (yang aspect) if there is no such thing as cold (yin aspect). Without an understanding of hot and cold, there would only be one temperature. Height (yang aspect) cannot be measured if there is not a low reference point (yin aspect); otherwise, everything would be at one level. In addition, the comparisons between yin and yang are relative to the objects being compared. For example, water belongs to yang in relation to ice which is yin, however, water is considered to be yin in relation to steam which is more yang. Daytime belongs to yang in relation to the night which is yin, however, afternoon is considered to be yin in comparison to morning which is more yang.
According to the yin yang theory, life activities are the result of interaction between our physical body and its physiological functions. The activity (yang) of our body is nourished by its physical form (yin), and the physical form is created and maintained by the body's activity. The two aspects rely on each other to achieve a balanced state of health.
Yin and Yang change and grow in a cyclic and balanced manner.
Yin and yang achieve a state of balance by mutual interaction and restriction. The balance is neither static nor absolute, but is maintained within certain limits. At certain times, yin expands while yang diminishes. At other times, the opposite is true. The change of seasons illustrates this concept. From winter through spring and summer, the weather changes from cold to hot. This is a process where yang (heat) grows and yin (cold) diminishes. On the other hand, the weather will change from hot to cold from summer through autumn and winter, a process where yin expands and yang diminishes. Over time, the proportion of hot (yang) and cold (yin) weather will be balanced and in harmony.
||Yin and Yang transform into each other.
When one aspect goes to an extreme, it will undergo a reverse transformation into the opposite character. This sudden transformation usually takes place in a particular situation. For example, when summer reaches the hottest day (extreme yang), the weather begins changing in a reverse manner. Instead of becoming hotter, it starts to become cooler. When winter reaches its coldest day (extreme yin), the weather reverses its direction and becomes warmer. This transformation is the source of all changes, which allow both yin and yang to create each other. In the body, the pattern of yin yang transformation happens when excitatory and inhibitory functions transform into one another.
Professor, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine
Ph.D. Beijing Union Medical College
Vice Director, Gourmet Food Institute of Health Care and Nutrition of Beijing
Angela Collingwood, MSN, Integrated Chinese Medicine Holdings Ltd.
Angelo Chung, B Pharm., Integrated Chinese Medicine Holdings Ltd.