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The Yang and Yin of Emotional Wellbeing

July 15, 2015


The concepts of Yin and Yang form the bedrock of Classical Chinese Medicine theories, Yin and Yang are commonly represented by this simple black and white circular symbol. 


This symbol is a visual representation of the nature of Yin and Yang, illustrating how they intertwine in a constant, cyclical dance; interconnected, mutually dependent, opposing one another yet transforming into one another; a perpetual dance of darkness and light, day and night.

Yin is associated with things that are nurturing, passive, receptive, cool, wet, soft, withdrawing, contracting, falling, receding, night, water.

Yang is associated with things that are protective, aggressive, active, interconnecting, warm, dry, hard, fast, rising, expanding, daytime, fire.


To maintain a state of balance and health, Yin and Yang energy in the body needs to be in balance. This balance can be seen in many different aspects of the maintenance of health, one obvious example is the breath; inhaling is a Yang activity, it is active, expansive process, through which we connect to the air which enables gas exchange. Exhalation is a Yin activity as it is a more passive process of relaxation and contraction, a withdrawal. Using the example of the breath, it is simple to see how important it is for us to have a balance of Yin and Yang energies.


From an emotional perspective, Yin energy and Yang energy interplay in our psyche throughout the day. Yang energy can be seen as the energy you send out into the world when you are interconnecting and communicating, busy, active, focusing on completing a task, using your logic, your intellect. Yin energy is associated with being receptive, an inward flow of energy and it is nurtured in your inner landscape, your feelings and intuition. We access more Yin when we spend time with people we feel intimately connected to, when we use our imagination, and especially when we are at peace with ourselves in moments of mindful contemplation.


It is possible to become overly identified with either the Yang or Yin aspects of our thoughts and emotions, whether through familial or societal conditioning.  When this happens over a prolonged period it can have an impact on the balance of energies in the rest of our system, creating the potential for both mental and physical health problems.  


If the balance of emotional energy is proportionately more Yang than Yin you may notice symptoms such as anxiety, a tendency to feel angry or aggressive with little provocation, feeling overly competitive or overly critical. Excess Yang emotions can mask a deficiency of Yin which could also be associated with feelings of burnout, an inability to relax and a tendency to feel the need to keep moving, keep busy in order to keep your head above water. One of the most effective tools to help to regain the balance is to actively seek to strengthen your Yin energy through mindful awareness. When you start to feel your Yang energy rising, stop what you are doing, still your thoughts by focusing on your breathing and increase your awareness of the ground beneath your feet to help you to reconnect to your more inner, Yin energies.


If the balance of energy is the reverse, it may result in symptoms associated with deficiency of Yang, when the relative balance of Yin and Yang tips in favour of the Yin energies. Such imbalance can be associated with depression, feeling overwhelmed and confused, hopelessness, confusion, lack of confidence and low self-esteem and a tendency to cut yourself off from friends and family. One of the most effective tools for this kind of imbalance is to bring more movement into your life to help you to move stagnating energy and help to reinvigorate the Yang energy. So get active, take a walk, take some deep breaths, maybe start practicing some breathing exercises.


So, as you identify whether your tendency is to have too much Yang or too little Yang, consciously engage in an activity that helps you to build up the correct energy to compensate for this.  If your Yang energy is excess, use mindful meditation to help quieten it and build a stronger core to root it to the Yin. If your Yang energy is too low, gentle movement and breathing exercises can help to reactivate the Yang energy and help to create more balance.


Classical Chinese acupuncture can help to restore the balance of energies in your system and work to re-establish the correct flow of energy which can benefit your health in both the short and longterm. Acupuncture can help you to rationalise your emotions internally, and can also help to increase your resilience to stressors from the environment in which you live.



Alexandra O’Connor

Acupuncture BSc(Hons) Lic Ac, MBAcC, FEA

Holicity Acupuncture
01621 92 82 72


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