Chinese Medicine: Yin Yang Balancing Act

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Chinese Medicine: Yin Yang Balancing Act

Chinese Medicine: Yin Yang Balancing Act

By Shoshanna Katzman, MS, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac & CH

The metaphysical definition of balance is “a desirable point between two or more opposite forces which minimizes the negatives of both. “ When applied to Chinese Medicine, this definition relates to the state of being achieved through the balancing of two complementary, yet opposing forces of yin and yang. When the creation of a desirable middle point is established between yin and yang, it leads to a vibrant flow of vital energy commonly known as qi. As this flow strengthens over time it leads to an individual’s positional shift along the yin/yang continuum that positively affects one’s life existence, interaction, and function. This is precisely how Chinese medicine works with the energies of the body to affect positive change in life.

The forces of yin and yang are the dialectic opposites of the universe. Yin can’t exist without yang and vice versa. There’s always a bit of yin within yang and yang within yin. An excess of yin turns into yang and an excess of yang turns into yin. Yin commonly refers to female energy, whereas yang refers to male energy. Being more internally oriented is considered yin, whereas external and outward movement is more yang.

For example, a quiet and withdrawn behavior is yin and being extroverted and forthcoming is more of a yang behavior.  In terms of temperature, yin relates to coldness and yang to heat. A body type that is more thin or wiry is more yin, whereas one that is more thick, heavy, and robust is more yang. Moreover, a pale complexion and tendency toward feeling cold is yin, whereby redness of the face accompanied with a tendency to feel hot is more yang.

A Chinese medicine practitioner employs these various classifications of yin and yang as a diagnostic tool to determine the best approach to treatment. The goal of treatment is to help a client to find their desired balance point, located more toward the center of the yin/yang continuum.

This is accomplished in the following ways:

  • Acupuncture treatment via insertion of hair-thin needles into acupuncture points located along meridian (energy) pathways on the body
  • Recommendation of Chinese herbs ingested as pill, tincture, powder, granule, or tea.
  • The practice of the gentle, flowing and balancing exercises of tai chi and qigong.
  • Recommendation of foods classified more at the center of the yin/yang continuum.
  • A suggestion of lifestyle habits according to an individual’s specific constitution, changes which establish a greater balance between yin and yang.

These diametrically opposing forces are in constant flux, as once balance is obtained it can be quickly lost. Balance creates a sense of order and peace, a cherished experience of being centered and whole. It is not a static state of being, but rather moves and shifts with each passing moment. Once established if even for a moment, the balance feels so right it is sought to become everlasting. The qigong exercise of walking yi chuan, also known as “Walking like a Turtle,” is a prime example of how to foster more sustainable balance within one’s life.

This is achieved through careful, balanced, and slow meditative walking slowly, coordinated with one’s breath. It involves purposeful shifting from yin to yang and vice versa, while shifting weight from one foot to the other and back again. This qigong walking exercise also cultivates qi and establishes physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and energetic health.

“Walking like a Turtle” creates a sense of internal and external balance as it works with the energetic and physical components of the body, respectively. It requires walking with smoothness and perfect rhythm in a forward direction first, then backward while remaining cognizant and keenly awareness of the yin-yang forces moving and shifting within and around one’s body. This creates a deep feeling of tranquil relaxation, a floating experience combined with solid rooting, grounding, and centering.

It establishes wholeness and integration through movement, together with a heightened awareness of self and one’s external environment. This exercise creates yin-yang balance, one that flourishes throughout every aspect of the body.

Similar effects are gained through receiving an acupuncture treatment. This can be achieved through opening energy flow within the “sea of tranquility” a special energy point located in the center of the chest. The root energy of the body is then strengthened through a placement of needles to balance the yin and yang energies of the kidney. An acupuncture recipient of this treatment reclines for twenty minutes or so while connecting with and activating their innate capability for self-healing.

This leads to the discovery of a desirable balance state found between the two opposing, yet mutually dependent forces of yin and yang. This provides an essential remedy for transforming a feeling of being “out of sorts” into an empowered, vibrant connection within oneself.

Healing naturally, while balancing the energies of yin and yang, turns feelings of frustration and stagnation into inner peace and resolve, instilling the strength and insight necessary to move forward with a sense of purpose. Energy flow is restored and one becomes ready to engage more fully with others. The yin, withdrawn state has been sparked through increased yang energy as it is time to “walk on the sunny side” while emanating love and compassion for self and others stemming from balanced yang energy of the heart.

Enhance your Health with Qigong

Learn a series of gentle movements from the ancient Chinese art of self-healing and fitness, to maintain health and nurture your spirit.

Qigong is a form of energy medicine movement that activates the body both physically and energetically.  During Qigong training, you learn to cultivate your Qi (vital energy) and increase energetic awareness. This results in an increased sensitivity to electrical, magnetic and other energies not just emanating from yourself, but from others.

Through the practice of Qigong, one begins to strengthen and train the development of inner awareness. When this occurs, a person can begin to access information within themselves in an enhanced manner increasing inner wisdom.

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Shoshanna is the author of Qigong for Staying Young: A Simple 20-Minute Workout to Cultivate Your Vital Energy. Visit Shoshanna’s Qigong Online Store at

Visit Shoshanna and Red Bank Acupuncture & Wellness Center at



Shoshanna Katzman

Shoshanna Katzman, M.S., L.Ac., Dipl. Ac & CH I am pleased to have the opportunity to provide you with an array of articles written from the perspective of a Chinese medicine practitioner with the specialties of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and the exercise systems of tai chi and qigong. My training began 45 years ago when I became a serious student of tai chi and kung fu in the Panhandle of San Francisco. Since that time I have availed myself of intensive study in the fields of Chinese medicine as well as energy medicine. I also have a master’s degree in sports medicine, which lends a more scientific basis for my work. My vision is to reach and help as many people revitalize and restore balanced flow of qi throughout their body, mind and spirit. This is achieved through integrating the healing modalities of Chinese medicine into their life.



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