The concepts of Yin and Yang originate in ancient Chinese philosophy and metaphysics, which describes two primal opposing but complementary forces found in all things in the universe. Yin is the darker element. It is sad, passive, feminine, downward-seeking, and corresponds to the night; Yang is happy, the brighter element. It is active, light, masculine, upward-seeking and corresponds to the day; Yin is often symbolized by water, while Yang is symbolized by fire.
Yin (feminine, dark, passive force) and Yang (masculine, bright, active force) are descriptions of complementary opposites rather than absolutes. Any Yin/Yang dichotomy can be seen as its opposite when viewed from another perspective. The categorization is seen as one of convenience. Most forces in nature can be seen as having Yin and Yang states, and the two are usually in movement rather than held in absolute stasis.
The pair probably goes back to ancient agrarian religion; it exists in Confucianism, and it is prominent in Taoism. Though the words Yin and Yang only appear once in the Tao Te Ching, the book is laden with examples and clarifications of the concept of mutual arising. The concept is a fundamental principle of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
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Qi, also commonly spelled ch'i or ki, is a fundamental concept of traditional Chinese culture. Qi is believed to be part of everything that exists, as in “life force” or “spiritual energy,” It is most often translated as “energy flow,” or literally as “air” or “breath” (for example, a term meaning “weather” is tiānqì, or the “breath of heaven”). It is pronounced something like "chee" in Mandarin Chinese but the tongue position is different.
References to qi, and similar philosophical concepts, as the life-process of “flow” in metaphysical energy that sustains living beings are found in many belief systems, especially in Asia. Philosophical conceptions of qi date from the earliest recorded times in Chinese thinking. One of the important early figures in Chinese mythology is Huang Di (the Yellow Emperor). He is often considered a culture hero who collected and formalized much of what subsequently became known as traditional Chinese medicine.
Although the concept of qi has been very important within many Chinese philosophies, their descriptions of qi have been varied and conflicting. One significant difference has been the question of whether qi exists as a force separate from matter, if qi arises from matter, or if matter arises from qi. Some Buddhists and Taoists have tended toward the third belief, with some Buddhists in particular believing that matter is an illusion.
Theories of traditional Chinese medicine assert that the body has natural patterns of qi that circulate in channels called meridians in English. Symptoms of various illnesses are often believed to be the product of disrupted, blocked, or unbalanced qi movement (interrupted flow) through the body's meridians, as well as deficiencies or imbalances of qi (homeostatic imbalance) in the various Zang Fu organs. Traditional Chinese medicine often seeks to relieve these imbalances by adjusting the circulation of qi (metabolic energy flow) in the body using a variety of therapeutic techniques. Some of these techniques include herbal medicines, special diets, physical training regimens (qigong, Tai Chi, and martial arts training), massage to clear blockages, and acupuncture, which uses fine metal needles inserted into the skin to reroute or balance qi. Traditional Asian martial arts also discuss qi. For instance, internal martial systems known especially by their focus on using qi (the “flow” of forces) for self protection during combat, as well as to ensure proper health. Many other martial arts also include some concept of qi in their philosophies.
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The concept of meridians (Chinese: "jing-luo") arises from the techniques and doctrines of traditional Chinese medicine including acupuncture and acupressure. According to these practices, the body's vital energy, "qi", circulates through the body along specific interconnected channels called meridians. Disruptions of the body's energy flow (such as stagnations, blockages and redirection) are thought to cause emotional and physical illness. To release those disruptions, specific points on the meridians called acupoints, or tsubo in the Japanese practice, are stimulated via needles, pressure or other means.
The Standard Acupuncture Nomenclature published by the World Health Organization listed about 400 acupuncture points and 20 meridians connecting most of the points.
There are twelve meridians on the arms and the legs. Heart, Lung, Pericardium, Small Intestine, Large Intestine, Triple Warmer, Kidney, Spleen, Liver, Stomach, Bladder, and Gall Bladder. Meridians are divided into Yin and Yang groups. The Yin meridians of the arm are, Heart, Lung and Pericardium. The Yang meridians of the arm are: Small Intestine, Large Intestine, and Triple Warmer. The Yin Meridians of the leg are Kidney, Spleen, and Liver. The Yang meridians of the leg are Stomach, Bladder, and Gall Bladder.
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Traditional Chinese medicine (also known as TCM or T.C.M.) is a range of traditional medical practices used in China that developed over several thousand years. These practices include herbal medicine, acupuncture, and massage. TCM is a form of Oriental medicine, which includes other traditional East Asian medical systems such as Japanese and Korean medicine. TCM says processes of the human body are interrelated and constantly interact with the environment. Therefore the theory looks for the signs of disharmony in the external and internal environment of a person in order to understand, treat and prevent illness and disease. TCM theory is based on a number of philosophical frameworks including the Theory of Yin-yang, the Five Elements, the human body Meridian system, Zang Fu theory, and others. Diagnosis and treatment are conducted with reference to these concepts. TCM does not usually operate within a scientific paradigm but some practitioners make efforts to bring practices into an evidence-based medicine framework.
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Five Elements (Five Phases) Theory
In traditional Chinese philosophy, natural phenomena can be classified into the Five Elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. These elements were used for describing interactions and relationships between phenomena. Five phases is the more appropriate way of translating wǔxíng — literally, "five goings". Traditional Taijiquan schools relate them to footwork and refer to them as five "steps".
The doctrine of five phases describes both a generating cycle and an overcoming or restraining cycle of interactions between the phases. In the generating cycle, wood generates fire; fire generates earth; earth generates metal; metal generates water; water generates wood. In the overcoming cycle, wood overcomes earth; earth overcomes water; water overcomes fire; fire overcomes metal; metal overcomes wood.
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