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A New Day Healing Arts
621 E. Campbell Avenue, Suite 8
Campbell, California 95008
408- 378-1588 (Office)

Yin and Yang

Yin and yang are the cornerstones for understanding, diagnosing, and treating the body and mind with acupuncture or Chinese medicine. In a sense, all the other theories and concepts of Chinese medicine are nothing other than an elaboration of yin and yang. Most people have probably already heard of yin and yang but may have only a fuzzy idea of what these terms mean.

The concepts of yin and yang can be used to describe everything that exists in the universe, including all the parts and functions of the body. Originally, yin referred to the shady side of a hill and yang to the sunny side of the hill. Since sunshine and shade are two interdependent sides of a single reality, these two aspects of the hill are seen as part of a single whole. Other examples of yin and yang are that night exists only in relation to day and cold exists only in relation to heat. According to Chinese thought, every single thing that exists in the universe has these two aspects, a yin and a yang. Thus every thing has a front and a back, a top and a bottom, a left and a right, and a beginning and an end. However, a thing is yin or yang only in relation to its paired complement. Nothing is in itself yin or yang.

It is the concepts of yin and yang that make Chinese medicine a holistic medicine. This is because, based on this unitary and complementary vision of reality, no body part or body function is viewed as separate or isolated from the whole person. The table below shows a partial list of yin and yang pairs as they apply to the body. However, it is important to remember that each item listed is either yin or yang only in relation to its complementary partner. Nothing is completely and by itself either yin or yang.

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"I choose to inhabit my days
To allow my living to open me,
To make me less afraid, more accessible,
To loosen my heart,
Until it becomes a wing,
A torch, a promise."
--Dawna Markova from Untitled

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Last modified: February 24, 2004

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