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  • William E. Leigh III

The dynamic balance of Yin Yang and relationship to the meridians

Yin and Yang represent the the foundational relationship of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Yin and Yang represent the the dynamic balance and interdependence of all natural holistic systems. Yang is up while Yin is down. Yang is out, where Yin is in. Yang is light, where Yin is dark. Yang is active, where yin is stillness. Yin and Yang represent a method to understand the natural world and persists throughout all of TCM.

In relationship to the physiology, Yang is the upper half and Yin is the lower half. yang is the outside of the body and yin is the inside of the body. Yang is activity, where Yin is stillness.

Acupuncture in Traditional Chinese medicine relies upon an intricate meridian system. There are the Yin meridians and the Yang meridians. Also there are the Meridians that relate to the hands, and the meridians that relate to the feet. And all of these meridians are in dynamic relationship with each other.

The Yang meridians flow predominately on the outside aspect of the body. The back or posterior side of the body relates to the Tai Yang meridian. The front or anterior side of the body relates to the Yang Ming meridian. The Sides of the body relate to the Shao Yang meridian. Each of these meridians is further divided in relationship with the hands and feet. There is a Foot Tai Yang meridian which goes to the feet and a Hand Tai Yang meridian that goes to the hand. This pattern follows through the Yang Ming and Shao Yang meridians. All of these meridians are Yang meridians and have the word "Yang" in their name.

The Yin meridians flow predominately though the interior of the physiology. They are generally deeper than the Yang meridians and fall on the inside of the legs and arms. There is the Tai Yin, Shao yin and Jue Yin meridians. Furthermore, there is also hand and foot categories for these meridians also.

There are also primary meridians representing the vertical mid-line of the body. On the anterior side, crossing the belly button, is the conception vessel. On the posterior side, between the shoulder blades, is the governing vessel.

Each meridian also corresponds to an internal organ. I have found that naming a meridian by its corresponding organ is quite misleading. Yes, there is an indirect relationship with the corresponding organ, but this relationship is quite tenuous. The meridians are much more dynamic than simply representing any particular organ. Therefore I will not be using the organ name to refer to any individual meridian.

Summary of the Meridians:

Meridian name (Chinese) Quality of Yin or Yang Extremity Five Elements


Taiyin Lung Channel of Hand (手太阴肺经) or Hand's Major Yin Lung Meridian Greater Yin (taiyin, 太阴) Hand (手) Metal (金) Lung (肺)

Shaoyin Heart Channel of Hand (手少阴心经) or Hand's Minor Yin Heart Meridian Lesser Yin (shaoyin, 少阴) Hand (手) Fire (火) Heart (心)

Jueyin Pericardium Channel of Hand (手厥阴心包经) or Hand's Absolute Yin Heart Protector Meridian Faint Yin (jueyin - 厥阴) Hand (手) Fire (火) Pericardium (心包)

Shaoyang Sanjiao Channel of Hand (手少阳三焦经) or Hand's Minor Yang Triple Burner Meridian Lesser Yang (shaoyang, 少阳) Hand (手) Fire (火) Triple Burner (三焦)

Taiyang Small Intestine Channel of Hand (手太阳小肠经) or Hand's Major Yang Small Intestine Meridian Greater Yang (taiyang, 太阳) Hand (手) Fire (火) Small Intestine (小肠)

Yangming Large Intestine Channel of Hand (手阳明大肠经) or Hand's Yang Supreme Large Intestine Meridian Yang Bright (yangming, 阳明) Hand (手) Metal (金) Large Intestine (大腸)

Taiyin Spleen Channel of Foot (足太阴脾经) or Foot's Major Yin Spleen Meridian Greater Yin (taiyin, 太阴) Foot (足) Earth (土) Spleen (脾)

Shaoyin Kidney Channel of Foot (足少阴肾经) or Foot's Minor Yin Kidney Meridian Lesser Yin (shaoyin, 少阴) Foot (足) Water (水) Kidney (腎)

Jueyin Liver Channel of Foot (足厥阴肝经) or Foot's Absolute Yin Liver Meridian Faint Yin (jueyin, 厥阴) Foot (足) Wood (木) Liver (肝)

Shaoyang Gallbladder Channel of Foot (足少阳胆经) or Foot's Minor Yang Gallbladder Meridian Lesser Yang (shaoyang, 少阳) Foot (足) Wood (木) Gall Bladder (膽)

Taiyang Bladder Channel of Foot (足太阳膀胱经) or Foot's Major Yang Urinary Bladder Meridian Greater Yang (taiyang, 太阳) Foot (足) Water (水) Urinary bladder (膀胱)

Yangming Stomach Channel of Foot (足阳明胃经) or Foot's Yang Supreme Stomach Meridian Yang Bright (yangming, 阳明) Foot (足) Earth (土) Stomach (胃)

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