resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Apple Takes a Bite Out of Research
The more than 700 million iPhone users have just been given the opportunity to "do their part to advance medical research."
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
Teach Your Patients About External Healing Applications
Since the skin is the body's largest organ, and is able to respond to both internal and external stimulations, communicate sensations to the brain, protect the body, breathe and even excrete toxins, it can be an excellent source of healing.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
Make Every Day Mother's Day
May is a special month for many reasons. After a long, harsh winter, spring is at last in full swing. Memorial Day helps us honor those who have fought and fallen in the name of freedom.
Functional Impingement of the Hip (Part 2): Rehab Exercises
I find functionally impinged hips that don't move properly on so many of my patients. (See part 1 of this article for a description of the condition.)
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
If Your Pro-Chiropractic Governor Resigned, Would You Be Prepared?
John Kitzhaber, MD, recently re-elected to a historic fourth term as Oregon governor, has resigned among alleged ethics violations by his fiancée' and first lady, Cylvia Hayes. I developed a personal friendship with John and consider him a good friend.
News in Brief
Dr. Frank Nicchi Receives Award at ACC-RAC; Sherman College Expands International Influence.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Trouble in the Wellness Waters?
Call me old-fashioned, paranoid or just old, but I do remember graduating from chiropractic college in the late '70s in the midst of the Wilk v AMA lawsuit.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
Talking to Patients About Medial Branch Neurotomy (Part 2)
Even when lumbar facet denervation (medial branch neurotomy) is successful, relief is rarely complete or permanent. Smuck, et al., reviewed 16 articles and found the average duration of >50 percent pain relief for an initial procedure was nine months.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
Applauding a Legacy of Leadership
Founding Palmer West President, John Miller, DC, HCD (Hon.), FICA (Hon.), a 1954 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, passed away March 8, 2015 at age 83.
December, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 12
By Barbra Esher, AOBTA CI. Dipl. ABT & Ac. (NCCAOM), LAc
Yin/yang theory can be understood and utilized on many different levels. I am sure that everyone reading this article has seen the yin/yang symbol: the black and white paisleys with a center of the opposite color, fitting together to create a circle.Some of you may even have seen a list of correlations: yang as male; light; day; action; and heat; yin as female; dark; night; rest; and cold. This type of information may be interesting, but taken out of context, it is not really useful to bodyworkers.
First mentioned in the I Ching, the Book of Changes (800 B.C.), yin and yang were based on observing natural phenomenon and applying it to the anatomy, physiology and pathology of the human body. Chinese sages observed the changing of the seasons and the cycles of people's lives, and noticed appropriate correlations. They saw the movement of day into night, then back, as yin and yang continuously transforming into one another. Yin and yang were conceived not only as opposing forces, but as complementary forces. They depend on each other, are contained in each other, and are continuously supported and consumed by each other.
Interdependence of Yin and Yang
Yin and yang are relative concepts: neither one can exist in isolation. A common question from beginning students is, "Is this yin?" and I have to say "In relationship to what? You can't have a 'jar' of yin" It may be yin in one instance, yang in another.
In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tsu writes:
There has to be a reference point for defining anything as yin or yang.
I was in Manchester, England, visiting a friend one summer, and she kept on apologizing about the heat. She was fanning herself, saying, "Oh, it is so terrible that you had to arrive during such a horrible heat wave. It has been so hot! I can't believe this weather. I can't remember when it was so hot before." On and on she went. It was about 70 degrees. That was "hot" (yang) to her, as hot as it ever got. In Hawaii, when it drops to 70 degrees, it's just about time to get out the ski parka. That's cold (yin) for them -- winter weather. You need a point of reference. It's just not possible to have yin without yang.
Opposition of Yin and Yang
You may think, "Opposition, now that's the same as the Western concept of conflicting forces. That's easy to understand." Sorry, it's a bit different. It's the same in that we can use one to control the other, due to the yin/yang quality of opposition.
If someone has a condition that we determine is due to cold, we can use moxa over certain points to dispel the cold, because burning moxa is hot in comparison. That is referred to as the opposition of yin and yang. Hot/yang controls cold/yin and vice versa.
However, integral to the idea that yin and yang are opposite to one another is the fact that they are contained in one another. When you look at the symbol, it's the light circle in the dark side, and the dark circle in the light side that allows their conflicting aspect to remain in balance. Just as the moon is the yang within a yin dark night, the shadows are the yin within a bright yang day.
Some ask, "Am I yin because I am a woman?" Women and men are never completely yin or yang; there has to be a balance of both. Actually, when people are not in touch with both yin and yang aspects of themselves, and they use another person to create that balance, it is a potentially dangerous situation. What they create is just the black and white yin and yang paisleys, without the opposite circles inside keeping balance.
A study on domestic violence called "Love and Violence: Gender Paradoxes in Volatile Attachments" concluded that it is precisely when men and women conform to traditional gender roles most rigidly that abuse is likely to occur. From a yin and yang perspective, I find that fascinating. So within a couple that has exaggerated gender roles, there is no yin within yang or yang within yin.
Take for example, a traditional manly sort of person who always has to be strong and supportive and never shows emotion is coupled with a person who is totally submissive, weak and helpless. They are both sublimating their respective yin and yang sides, which is potentially dangerous, because it is the opposing aspects contained within each other that help maintain balance.
Yes, a woman's genitals are yin compared to a man's. They are moist, inside of her body, and in the dark, in contrast to a man's, which are dry, outside of his body and in the sunlight (sometimes?). There are certain qualities that women and men may have that can be contrasted as yin or yang aspects. But you will find that the healthier the person is, the more they have a good balance of both yin and yang! And you may find that helpful in considering your clients. You can see how bodywork can help them get in touch with their yin, more vulnerable side. Or vice-versa, bodywork can get your client in touch with their yang strengths.
Inter-consuming - Supporting Aspect of Yin and Yang
The functional yang of our body is dependent on the nutritional yin. The yin organs create and yin nutritional substances. They are able to do that only with the yang action of the yang organs. The yang organs on the other hand, need the nutritional substances from the yin organs to function. This is the core of Zang-Fu organ theory -the inter-consuming, supporting relationship of yinyang. Having a thorough understanding of this concept will help to fine-tune your bodywork sessions, making them much more effective. (However, that discussion is beyond the scope of this article.)
Another example of how yin and yang consume and support each other is the teacher/student relationship. A teacher is yang/active -- giving information; the students comparatively are more yin/passive -- receiving information. The students pay the school (which pays the teachers), with money, which in this instance, is a "nutritional substance." The teachers can then buy food so they have the yang/energy to keep teaching. The information that teachers gives the students then "supports" them: hopefully, they can use that information to go out and work, creating more money/ yin substances.
Transformation of Yin and Yang
Yin and yang continually transform naturally from one into the other, just as yin /Fall and Winter will transform into yang/ Spring and Summer. Day transforms into night, then night transforms into day, the darkest hour of night being right before the dawn. When you look at the yin/yang symbol, you see the largest part of the dark yin ball starting to flip over into the smallest part of the yang tail and then vice versa, as one changes into the other.
The transformation between yin and yang is a natural seamless process when we are in balance. But when we are tilted too heavily in one, we will flip over into the other, as extremes create their opposites. We can see it at times such as when someone drinks too much alcohol. They have a drink (yang) and they start to feel more yang - bubbly, warm and more outgoing. If they have a few more, they may start laughing and getting loud. If they keep on drinking, becoming more and more yang, at some point they are going to flip into a yin state. Maybe they will start crying about how their mother never loved them or maybe they will become even more yin, passing out cold! Regardless, they will feel quite yin the next morning, craving dark, quiet and possibly feeling rather depressed and miserable, swearing never to drink again! That's why the Chinese encourage moderation and balance.
It's also interesting that sometimes relatively yin people, (quiet, reserved, sensitive) will respond very well to yin treatment styles such as Jin Shin Do®. It seems to add more yin, which they are very receptive to, nudging them into a more yang/ energized state. Whereas outgoing, active and more armored/ yang people often respond well to styles of bodywork like Barefoot Shiatsu. Again adding more yang to them seems to flip them over into a more yin/relaxed state. This is of course a generalization, but is still an energetic phenomenon that is helpful to be aware of.
Infinite Divisibility of Yin and Yang
We can keep dividing yin and yang theoretically indefinitely. Our head is yang (closer to the Heavens) in relationship to our feet (closer to the Earth). But on our head, our nose is yang (bringing in air qi) in relationship to our mouth (bringing in food yinqi). And within our mouth, the front of the tongue is yang, representing the upper burner, while the back of the tongue is more yin, representing the lower burner. And on and on it goes.
Hopefully this discussion has enhanced your appreciation of the complexity of such a paradoxically simple, fundamental theory. Our primary goal as practitioners is to balance the yin and yang aspects of the body. How we do this is based on our awareness, training and connection of our own spirits with the ever-changing, constant ebb and flow of yin and yang within the universe.
Click here for previous articles by Barbra Esher, AOBTA CI. Dipl. ABT & Ac. (NCCAOM), LAc.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.