What is acupuncture?

Traditional Acupuncture originates in China and has been practiced for nearly 2000 years. It’s principle theory is that health is governed by the flow of energy, or Qi (pronounced “Chee”). When we are unwell or injured, the flow of Qi has been disrupted and needs to be restored. This can be done by inserting fine needles into specific points on the body.

Balance is one of the cornerstones of acupuncture. And balance, from an acupuncture perspective, is best understood through the theory of Yin and Yang.

Yin and Yang describe the dual nature of things, the fact that something can only be understood in relation to the whole.

For example, light is a Yang quality while dark is considered Yin. Light and dark though, contrary to popular belief, are not opposites. They are complementary, interconnected qualities. Light gives rise to dark, and vice versa. You cannot have one without the other. Something can only be light in relation to something that is dark. It is not always light.

This concept—context determines reality—is vital to understanding how acupuncture differs from Western biomedicine, which is premised on the notion of absolutes and direct causation.

Acupuncturists are always thinking about how to balance out Yin and Yang in their patients. Certain acupuncture points are used to raise or lower Yin and Yang, depending on what a person needs. In Chinese dietary theory, different foods have Yin or Yang qualities. So do certain exercises and other lifestyle recommendations.

So, what does this have to do with our everyday lives?

We can apply these principles to our daily calendars: Action and activity are considered Yang qualities. If we continue to fill our lives with things that make us busy, our Yang levels stay elevated while our Yin becomes deficient.

We need rest, quiet, and relaxation—all Yin activities—to create a healthy balance. When things are out of balance for too long, we start to experience symptoms of stress and illnesses.