Men are born soft and supple; Dead, they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; Dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible Is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding Is a disciple of life.
—  Lao Tzu, (Verse 76) Tao Te Ching

“When flowing water…meets with obstacles on its path, a blockage in its journey, it pauses. It increases in volume and strength, filling up in front of the obstacle and eventually spilling past it…

Do not turn and run, for there is nowhere worthwhile for you to go. Do not attempt to push ahead into the danger… emulate the example of the water: Pause and build up your strength until the obstacle no longer represents a blockage.”

—   Thomas Cleary, I Ching
Yin-Yang, I Ching and TCM

A highly skilled member of the “Yin Yang school”, from the Chinese Animation series Legend of Qin.

In Chinese philosophy Yin Yang describes forces that are opposite but complementary. While they can be either Yin or Yang, they can also be its contrary. Yin has the seed of yang so that Yin can transform into Yang, and Yang has the seed of Yin so that Yang can transform into Yin.
The four aspects of Yin-Yang relationships can be summarized as follows:
- Opposition
- Interdependence
- Mutual consuming
- Inter-transformation

It is wrong to say that something is simply “Yin” or “Yang”. They can be opposite cyclical stages, opposite states of density of matter but the opposition is relative, nothing is totally Yin or totally Yang. Something can only be Yin or Yang in relation to something else. And while two opposites may be in balance, they are never static. They are constantly changing.

In chapter 36 of “Dao De Jing” it says: “In order to contract, it is necessary first to expand”. Likewise, there cannot be activity without rest, energy without matter or contraction without expansion. It means that while Yin and Yang are opposite they are also interdependent: one cannot exist without the other.

Mutual Consuming
Yin Yang is continuously changing and transforming, while this is a harmonious change, when Yin and Yang are out of balance they affect each other. So much that they start to consume or weaken the other. If for example there is an excess of Yang, a Yin deficiency will be the result.

One can change into the other, but only at the right moment in the cycle.   

Yin-Yang attributes
Yin and Yang may represent a wide variety of opposing objects, like heaven and earth, day and night, water and fire, brightness and dimness etc.

With Yang being heaven, day, fire, external, ascending, warm (or burning hot really), bright, non-substantial (like qi) and extremely bright. 

Yin being earth, night, water, internal, descending, cold, substantial (like blood), extremely dark. 

Both equally important. Also like I said before, they are only Yin and Yang in relation to each other! 

References to Yin and Yang date back as far as 700 B.C.E. to the I Ching - The I Ching, also known as the Classic of Changes or Book of Changes. In this book there are 64 hexagrams, a hexagram is composed of 6 lines, each line is either Yang (an unbroken, or solid line), or Yin (broken, an open line with a gap in the center). In the book each hexagram is accompanied with a description. It was originally used for divination but also as a cosmological text. And the I Ching is actually all about the universe. The Chinese character actually already tells us, In Chinese I Ching is written like this 易經, but the original ancient character of  易 was:   

you can see the sun on the top and the moon on the bottom.  
While observing the universe, the ancient Chinese found that the universe is changing every day. They observed the sun’s cycle, the seasonal and annual changes. This is what made them discover that Yin and Yang are like a cycle
and that at the most dark day in the year, the Winter Solstice there us actually a seed of Yang, because Yang is born at Winter solstice.

Also, when observing the cycle of the Sun, ancient Chinese simply used a pole about 8 feet long, posted at right angles to the ground and recorded positions of the shadow. the ground and recorded positions of the shadow. Then they found the length of a year is around 365.25 days. They even divided the year’s cycle into 24 Segments, including the Vernal Equinox, Autumnal Equinox, Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice, using the sunrise and Dipper positions.They used six concentric circles, marked the 24-Segment points, divided the circles into 24 sectors and recorded the length of shadow every day. The shortest shadow is found on the day of Summer Solstice. The longest shadow is found on the day of Winter Solstice. After connecting each lines and dimming Yin Part from Summer Solstice to Winter Solstice, the Sun chart looks like below. The ecliptic angle 23 26’ 19’’ of the Earth can be seen in this chart.

Source: [x]

A thousand year later, the I Ching inspired Gottfried Leibniz to invent the binary code. With Yin being 0 and Yang being 1.  Eventually this code was used to make the computers that we have now. (are you beginning to see the power of Yin and Yang?)

The diagram above illustrates the differentiation and unification of the patterns described by the I Ching. The I Ching uses polar, binary codes to illuminate these patterns, which are common to all things in nature and the universe.The diagram below illustrates the two switch modes (on and off) possible for a three-bit computer chip. A three-bit computer chip is constructed of a pile of three switches. The combination of the two switch modes and the three switches brings about a possible eight-switch combination. This diagram demonstrates a core principle of computers, which utilize a binary system (a system of two numbers) rather than the more vague decimal system (a system of ten numbers). The trigrams of the I Ching also utilize the binary system in order to define the many objects of nature. Because there are only two possible situations, on or off, the combination of these switches is the most accurate for representing any object or function. This system of differentiation brought about the creation of computers.
source: [x]

Chinese Medicine
Yin Yang is also the most important theory in Chinese Medicine. If Yin and Yang are in balance, they cannot be identified as separate entities, hence symptoms and signs do not appear. You are considered to be in good health.
To help you understand why Yin and Yang cannot be separated you can Imagine a Yin Yang supreme Ultimate symbol spinning very fast, so fast that the white and the black cannot be separated by the eye. This illustrates, that when Yin and yang are moving harmoniously, they cannot be separated. But when they are out of balance, the symbol stats to move slower and you can separate Yin and Yang. In this way every symptom and sign of a disease can be interpreted as a loss of balance.

What symptoms would you get when Yin and Yang are out of balance?

Excess of Yang

You might know this feeling that you can’t sleep and you get very hot, your face is red, your limbs are hot and burning. Chances are that on that moment you have too much Yang inside your body.

Excess of Yin
If Yin is in excess there will be completely different symptoms. You will feel cold, try to cover yourself up with anything you can and your face will be very pale.

Empty Heat and Empty Cold 
While excess of Yin and Yang are easy to diagnose, because of the relative qualities of Yin and Yang, a form of empty heat and empty cold can occur. Empty heat is the result of a Deficiency of Yin, not an excess of Yang. The deficiency of Yin results in an apparent excess of Yang. But this is only a matter of appearance, Yang is only in excess in relation to Yin.
The same thing applies for empty cold. There is a deficiency of Yang and an apparent excess of Yin. 

To make a difference between a preponderance and a deficiency is very important.

Chinese medicine has four strategies to treat Yin-Yang disharmony. If there is preponderance of Yang or Yin, it will be treated with eliminating the excess of Yang or Yin. If there is an apparent excess but actually a deficiency of Yin or Yang, the treatment will be to tonify Yang or Yin. In Chinese Medicine Acupuncture and Herbs are used to treat any Yin-Yang disharmony. There are herbs to tonify Yin or Yang, or acupuncture points to eliminate excess of Yang or Yin. 

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