Let’s talk about Yin/Yang and TCM.

Mar 30, 2022

Yin and Yang are meant to represent everything in the universe and exist in balance as complementary, but opposing elements.

The word Yin comes out of the meaning “shady side” and Yang “sunny side”.

Yin/Yang is the concept of duality forming a whole. One does not exist without the other. Just as you can’t describe what cold(Yin) feels like if you don’t know how hot(Yang) feels. They are comparative to each other. 

Yin and Yang are opposing forces, that also interdepend on each other, mutually consume one and other, as well as inter-transform into each other.  

Basically they keep each other in balance and complement one and other …. except when they don’t. 

When Yin and Yang fall out of balance in our bodies, we experience disharmony, in other words, disease or dysfunction. 

To examine this balance in our bodies, let’s look at an example of our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) which is made up of Yin and Yang. The Parasympathetic Nervous System-PNS (rest and digest) is Yin.  The Sympathetic Nervous System-SNA (fight or flight) is Yang. When we are highly stressed, always on the go, Yang is consuming Yin; meaning we are not able to rest peacefully in order for the body to perform its repair and restorative functions and this leads to illness and injury. 

How to find balance

Many aspects of modern day life disrupt the balance of Yin and Yang, tipping the scales towards more active Yang energy. 

Here are some ways to restore balance for the sake of your health:

Eat simply and seasonally 

Fat-free, sugar-free, and carb-free diets can be very extreme and limiting, and they can send some people into crisis or stress mode. A more balanced approach to eating will look different for everyone, but you really can’t go wrong by prioritizing seasonal, minimally processed, whole-food ingredients. 

Prioritize rest

Staying up late and burning the candle at both ends is a very Yang-weighted activity. Every time you do so, you stimulate the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) which only revs up your energy more and further disrupts the balance. 

Over time, too much Yang activity interferes with the body’s biological clock, or circadian rhythm which can make you more susceptible to illness and dysfunction 

Don’t live your life focussed on  productivity and constantly expanding, of increasing your output, or pushing your limits, and overriding your natural needs for recovery, rest, and rejuvenation. Rest shouldn’t be underestimated for its importance to the body and mind .

Exercise. But not at the expense of down time 

Exercising is a great way to move Qi and to stay healthy. But problems arise when we sacrifice sleep to squeeze in a workout or go straight from sitting in front of a computer for hours to doing a heavy workout.

These more yang approaches to exercise are counterproductive. Ultimately, this leads to injury. Instead, try to work movement into your entire day

Make time for Yin activities throughout the day 

We become so focused on getting things done (Yang energy) that we don’t often allow ourselves to receive and be in the present. 

To find balance, block time in your schedule for activities that are more Yin in nature: breaks in the day when you can eat, breathe, meditate, and re-center. 

Create a soothing nighttime routine

Once the sun goes down, you can prioritize Yin activities even more: Plan for quiet, homemade dinners featuring seasonal foods. As the sun sets, turn down the lights and switch off electronics.

Get in the habit of taking relaxing baths and thinking about three things you’re grateful for before going to bed (the earlier, the better!).


This is a practice of receiving, and is therefore Yin. Ending your day with gratitude will also help you stop your mental chatter and encourage restful sleep 

Acupuncture therapy 

Acupuncture is a great way to find calm and heal the body and spirit. By down regulating the sympathetic nervous system, acupuncture allows the body to shift into its restorative state. 

The bottom line

Yin and Yang are an ancient Chinese philosophy that reminds us that balance is the key to prosperity. By balancing out the opposing but complementary forces of Yin and Yang in our modern lives, we can achieve vitality.

To help you find greater balance and harmony our acupuncturist Naheed is at Thrive every Wednesday.