The theory of Yin and Yang is the root of Tai Chi Chuan, and the source from which it was created and formalized. The Chi Kung sets, which are an essential part of the practice of Tai Chi, are also based on this theory. It is therefore desirable to understand Yin-Yang theory so that you can have a clear concept of what you are trying to accomplish in your practice.
2-1. The Concept of Yin and Yang, Kan and Lii Yin and Yang
The Chinese have long believed that the universe is made up of two opposite forces - Yin and Yang - which must balance each other. When these two forces begin to lose their balance, nature finds a way to rebalance them. If the imbalance is significant, disaster will occur. However, when these two forces combine and interact with each other smoothly and harmoniously, they manifest power and generate the millions of living things.
Yin and Yang theory is also applied to the three great natural powers: heaven, earth, and man. For example, if the Yin and Yang forces of heaven (i.e., energy which comes to us from the sky) are losing balance, there can be tornados, hurricanes, or other natural disasters. When the Yin and Yang forces loose their balance on earth, rivers can change their paths and earthquakes can occur. When the Yin and Yang forces in the human body lose their balance, sickness and even death can occur. Experience has shown that the Yin and Yang balance in man is affected by the Yin and Yang balances of the earth and heaven. Similarly, the Yin and Yang balance of the earth is influenced by the heaven's Yin and Yang. Therefore, if you wish to have a healthy body and live a long life, you need to know how to adjust your body's Yin and Yang, and how to coordinate your Chi with the Yin and Yang energy of heaven and earth. The study of Yin and Yang in the human body is the root of Chinese medicine and Chi Kung.
The Chinese have classified everything in the universe according to Yin and Yang. Even feelings, thoughts, strategy, and the spirit are covered. For example, female is Yin and male is Yang, night is Yin and day is Yang, weak is Yin and strong is Yang, backward is Yin and forward is Yang, sad is Yin and happy is Yang, defense is Yin and offense is Yang, and so on.
Practitioners of Chinese medicine and Chi Kung believe that they must seek to understand the Yin and Yang of nature and the human body before they can adjust and regulate the body's energy balance into a more harmonious state. Only then can health be maintained and the causes of sickness be corrected.
Now let us discuss how Yin and Yang are defined, and how the concept of Yin and Yang is applied to the Chi circulating in the human body. Many people, even some Chi Kung practitioners, are still confused by this. When it is said that Chi can be either Yin or Yang, it does not mean that there are two different kinds of Chi like male and female, fire and water, or positive and negative charges. Chi is energy, and energy itself does not have Yin and Yang. It is like the energy which is generated from the sparking of negative and positive charges. Charges have the potential of generating energy, but are not the energy itself.
When it is said that Chi is Yin or Yang, it means that the Chi is too strong or too weak for a particular circumstance. It is relative and not absolute. Naturally, this implies that the potential which generates the Chi is strong or weak. For example, the Chi from the sun is Yang Chi, and Chi from the moon is Yin Chi. This is because the sun's energy is Yang in comparison to Human Chi, while the moon's is Yin. In any discussion of energy where people are involved, Human Chi is used as the standard. People are always especially interested in what concerns them directly, so it is natural that we are interested primarily in Human Chi and tend to view all Chi from the perspective of human Chi. This is not unlike looking at the universe from the perspective of the Earth.
When we look at the Yin and Yang of Chi within and in regard to the human body, however, we must redefine our point of reference. For example, when a person is dead, his residual Human Chi (Goe Chi or ghost Chi) is weak compared to a living person's. Therefore, the ghost's Chi is Yin while the living person's is Yang. When discussing Chi within the body, in the Lung channel for example, the reference point is the normal, healthy status of the Chi there. If the Chi is stronger than it is in the normal state, it is Yang, and, naturally, if it is weaker than this, it is Yin. There are twelve parts of the human body that are considered organs in Chinese medicine, six of them are Yin and six are Yang. The Yin organs are the Heart, Lungs, Kidneys, Liver, Spleen, and Pericardium, and the Yang organs are Large
Intestine, Small Intestine, Stomach, Gall Bladder, Urinary Bladder, and Triple Burner. Generally speaking, the Chi level of the Yin organs is lower than that of the Yang organs. The Yin organs store Original Essence and process the Essence obtained from food and air, while the Yang organs handle digestion and excretion.
When the Chi in any of your organs is not in its normal state, you feel uncomfortable. If it is very much off from the normal state, the organ will start to malfunction and you may become sick. When this happens, the Chi in your entire body will also be affected and you will feel too Yang, perhaps feverish, or too Yin, such as the weakness after diarrhea.
Your body's Chi level is also affected by natural circumstances such as the weather, climate, and seasonal changes. Therefore, when the body's Chi level is classified, the reference point is the level which feels most comfortable for those particular circumstances. Naturally, each of us is a little bit different, and what feels best and most natural for one person may be a bit different from what is right for another person. That is why the doctor will usually ask "how do you feel?" It is according to your own standard that you are judged.
Breath is closely related to the state of your Chi, and therefore also considered Yin or Yang. When you exhale you expel air from your lungs, your mind moves outward, and the Chi around the body expands. In the Chinese martial arts, the exhale is generally used to expand the Chi to energize the muscles during an attack. Therefore, you can see that the exhale is Yang - it is expanding, offensive, and strong. Naturally, based on the same theory, the inhale is considered Yin.
Your breathing is closely related to your emotions. When you lose your temper, your breathing is short and fast, i.e. Yang. When you are sad, your body is more Yin, and you inhale more than you exhale in order to absorb the Chi from the air to balance the body's Yin and bring the body back into balance. When you are excited and happy your body is Yang, and your exhale is longer than your inhale to get rid of the excess Yang which is caused by the excitement.
As mentioned before, your mind is also closely related to your Chi. Therefore, when your Chi is Yang, your mind is usually also Yang (excited) and vice versa. The mind can also be classified according to the Chi which generated it. The mind (Yi) which is generated from the calm and peaceful Chi obtained from Original Essence is considered Yin. The mind (Hsin) which originates with the food and air Essence is emotional, scattered, and excited, and it is considered Yang. The spirit, which is related to the Chi, can also be classified as Yang or Yin based on its origin.
Do not confuse Yin Chi and Yang Chi with Fire Chi and Water Chi. When the Yin and Yang of Chi are mentioned, it refers to the level of Chi according to some reference point. However, when Water and Fire Chi are mentioned, it refers to the quality of the Chi. If you are interested in reading more about the Yin and Yang of Chi, please refer to Dr. Yang's "The Root of Chinese Chi Kung" and "Muscle/-Tendon Changing and Marrow/Brain Washing Chi Kung."
The terms Kan and Lii occur frequently in Chi Kung documents. In the Eight Trigrams Kan represents "Water" while Lii represents Fire." However, the everyday terms for water and fire are also often used. Kan and Lii training has long been of major importance to Chi Kung practitioners. In order to understand why, you must understand these two words, and the theory behind them.
First you should understand that though Kan-Lii and Yin-Yang are related, Kan and Lii are not Yin and Yang. Kan is Water, which is able to cool your body down and make it more Yin, while Lii is Fire, which warms your body and makes it more Yang. Kan and Lii are the methods or causes, while Yin and Yang are the results. When Kan and Lii are adjusted or regulated correctly, Yin and Yang will be balanced and interact harmoniously.
Chi Kung practitioners believe that your body is always too Yang, unless you are sick or have not eaten for a long time, in which case your body may be more Yin. Since your body is always Yang, it is degenerating and burning out. It is believed that this is the cause of aging. If you are able to use Water to cool down your body, you will be able to slow down the degeneration process and thereby lengthen your life. This is the main reason why Chinese Chi Kung practitioners have been studying ways of improving the quality of the Water in their bodies, and of reducing the quantity of the Fire. I believe that as a Chi Kung practitioner you should always keep this subject at the top of your list for study and research. If you earnestly ponder and experiment, you will be able to grasp the trick of adjusting them.
If you want to learn how to adjust them, you must understand that Water and Fire mean many things in your body. The first concerns your Chi. Chi is classified as Fire or Water. When your Chi is not pure and causes your physical body to heat up and your mental/spiritual body to become unstable (Yang), it is classified as Fire Chi. The Chi which is pure and is able to cool both your physical and spiritual bodies (make them more Yin) is considered Water Chi. However, your body can never be purely Water. Water can cool down the Fire, but it must never totally quench it, because then you would be dead. It is also said that Fire Chi is able to agitate and stimulate the emotions, and from these emotions generate a "mind." This mind is called Hsin, and is considered the Fire mind, Yang mind, or emotional mind. On the other hand, the mind that Water Chi generates is calm, steady, and wise. This mind is called Yi, and is considered to be the Water mind or wisdom mind. If your spirit is nourished by Fire Chi, although your spirit may be high, it will be scattered and confused (a Yang spirit). Naturally, if the spirit is nourished and raised up by Water Chi, it will be firm and steady (a Yin mind). When your Yi is able to govern your emotional Hsin effectively, your will (strong emotional intention) can be firm.
You can see from this discussion that your Chi is the main cause of the Yin and Yang of your physical body, your mind, and your spirit. To regulate your body's Yin and Yang, you must learn how to regulate your body's Water and Fire Chi, but in order to do this efficiently you must know their sources.
Once you have grasped the concepts of Yin-Yang and Kan-Lii, then you have to think about how to adjust Kan and Lii so that you can balance the Yin and Yang in your body.
Theoretically, a Chi Kung practitioner would like to keep his body in a state of Yin-Yang balance, which means the "center'' point of the Yin and Yang forces. This center point is commonly called "Wu Chi" (no extremities). It is believed that Wu Chi is the original, natural state where Yin and Yang are not distinguished. In the Wu Chi state, nature is peaceful and calm. In the Wu Chi state, all of the Yin and Yang forces have gradually combined harmoniously and disappeared. When this Wu Chi theory is applied to human beings, it is the final goal of Chi Kung practice where your mind is neutral and absolutely calm. The Wu Chi state makes it possible for you to find the origin of your life, and to combine your Chi with the Chi of nature.
The ultimate goal and purpose of Tai Chi Chi Kung and Tai Chi Chuan is to find this peaceful and natural state. In order to reach this goal, you must first understand your body's Yin and Yang so that you can balance them by adjusting your Kan and Lii. Only when your Yin and Yang are balanced will you be able to find the center balance point, the Wu Chi state.
Theoretically, between the two extremes of Yin and Yang are millions of paths (i.e., different Kan and Lii methods) which can lead you to the neutral center. This accounts for the hundreds of different styles of Chi Kung which have been created over the years. You can see that the theory of Yin and Yang and the methods of Kan and Lii are the root of training in all Chinese Chi Kung styles. Without this root, the essence of Chi Kung practice would be lost.
Was this article helpful?
It's important to learn about awakening out of the egoic brain and living in the here and now. This book is intended to assist you do just that. The chapters are reminders that may be read in any order. We all need reminders to be more present in our lives to our true experience and brush aside what is damaging and takes away from real happiness, which is the chattering of the egoic mind.