Yin / Yang: Exploring the Masculinity of Chinese Philosophy

In Chinese traditional culture, Yang is the masculine quality of the cosmos. This blog will explore the different aspects of Yang in Chinese philosophy and how it can help you explore your unique masculinity. 

Is Yang masculine or feminine?

In Chinese philosophy, Yang is the masculine life force of action, and Yin is the feminine life force of observation. Yang’s masculine traits include responsibility and assertiveness. In contrast, Yin represents the feminine qualities of gentleness and receptivity. 

However, even though Yang is considered masculine in Chinese culture, both genders possess some form of Yin or Yang within them. 

Chinese philosophy and Traditional medicine have a nuanced approach to masculine and feminine energy in one’s body —which we will explore in the rest of this article.

Are males always yang and females yin?

In general, men have a higher amount of Yang energy, but in the Chinese system, both men and women possess Masculine Energy (Yang) and feminine energy (Yang). Being a man does not mean you only hang Yang Energy. Everyone has both of these essences within them. 

One of the most important understandings about Yin and Yang is that they are opposites, but they exist together as two parts making up one whole.

Lijuan Shen of Xi’an University put it beautifully:

“Yin and Yang are taken as a pattern embedded in the existence of all beings, thus providing the foundation for a coherent worldview. This weaves together human beings, nature, and dao (way) in a manner that creates a dynamic wholeness pervaded by and mediated through the interaction of Yin and Yang. This Chinese cosmological view sees all things, including humans, as borne of both Yin and Yang and thus naturally integrated with one another” 

The classic image of the Yin / Yang represents how the Yang (White) is separate, but within it is a dot of Yin (Black). They are never totally independent, but an essence of the opposite is found in each.  

For instance, within myself, I see a lot of Masculine Traits. I am very logical, self-driven, and approach life with discernment. But this isn’t all that I am. 

I also have the feminine qualities of emotional openness, stillness, and flexibility. 

To suppress these natural feminine qualities within me would be unhealthy, and having those qualities does not make me less of a man. 

The key is finding balance in oneself and relationships. It’s about the polarity within your relationships and self. (read more about Masculinity and Polarity here)

Characteristics of Yin & Yang

The Taoist concept of duality is the cornerstone of the philosophy of Yin and Yang. The idea is that our world is made up of two opposed energy. That of the Active Masculine Yang and the Passive Feminine Yin

Each of these opposites has a unique set of qualities. Here is a list:

Yang QualitiesYin Qualities
MasculineFeminine
Hot/WarmCold/Cool
ActivePassive
LightDark
DryMoist
DayNight
MotionRest
HeavenEarth
ExpansiveContracting
OutwardInward

The idea of Yin and Yang is that the two oppose each other while at the same time complement each other. Creating the foundation of life. An ever-moving dance between these two energies. 

Yin/Yang represents a contrast, not an absolute. They are identified by their characteristics relative to the other. You cannot identify Yin without knowing something is Yang.

This video by Ted Talks is an excellent way of exploring the aspects of Yin and Yang.

Yin and Yang within the Body

What’s fascinating about Chinese Medicine is that it takes the dualistic approach of Yin and Yang and applies it to the body’s energy systems. It is an integral part of the meridian channels used in acupuncture. 

Yang, or masculine, energies predominate in the right side of the body and hollow organs, such as the intestines and bladder. Yin, or feminine, energies rule the left side of the body and solid organs, including kidneys and heart.

Photo from Acupuncture and Massage college
https://www.amcollege.edu/

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a complex system of Yin and Yang interweaving with the five elements of the Chinese system. You can read more about it at Acupuncture and Massage College

Interestingly, Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that Masculine Yang and Feminine Yin energy circulates within all humans, not just male and female counterparts. Going so far as to say certain sides of our bodies and organs represent different energies.  

Asian medicine practitioners look to the relationship between Yin and Yang in the body to identify and treat disharmony. When Yin and Yang are in balance, there is harmony. When out of balance, problems arise in the body.

Are You More Yin or Yang? (Quiz)

Though each of us has Yin and Yang energy, most people have one stronger side. You can discover if you are more Yin or Yang by looking at your behavior, choices, diet, and constitution. 

I created a quiz to help you discover if you are more Yin or Yang. 

Yang Deficiency and Increasing Yang Energy 

When the body doesn’t properly circulate Yang Energy, it can lead to Yang deficiency. This can manifest as cold and clammy skin, sluggish digestion, weight gain, and fatigue. Yang energy can be increased through herbs, acupuncture, and lifestyle changes to bring the body to balance. 

Signs of Yang Deficiency:

  • Fatigue
  • Slowed metabolism
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Weak immunity
  • Frequent colds and flu

If you find yourself low in Yang energy, it can be increased, but it is created slowly and requires patience. The longer a deficiency in Yang chi is left neglected, the more difficult it becomes to correct. Take your time and work gently but firmly towards rebalancing the Yang chi in your body.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, sickness is caused by an imbalance of Yin/Yang energy in the body. Using tonic herbs and acupuncture is one way of increasing your Yang energy, alongside diet. 

Here is a list of herbs from The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology paper on Yang Invigoration.

Yang-invigorating Herbs
Eucommiae Cortex
Psoralea Fructus
Cistanches Herba
Cynomorii Herba
Epimedii Herba
Dipsaci Radix
Morindae Radix
Cibotii Rhizoma
Drynariae Rhizoma
Cuscutae Semen
Discuss herbs with your doctor before taking them.

Diet is also an important way to balance Yin and Yang energy. Here is a list of foods that can be used to increase Yang Masculine Energy within the body.

Animal protein
Apples
Apricots
Basil
Beef
Black pepper
Bone marrow
Carrots
Celery
Chestnut
Chive
Cinnamon
Clove
Cranberries
Essential fatty acids
Fennel
Fenugreek
Garlic
Ginkgo biloba
Ginseng
Grapes
Grapefruit
Lamb
Leeks
Licorice herb
Mushrooms
Nutmeg
Onions
Pineapple
Pistachio
Raspberry
Rhodiola 
Rice
Rose
Rosehips
Rosemary
Sage
Savory
Star anise
Thyme
Walnut
Watercress

Creating more Yang with Feng Shui

Another way you can increase Masculine Yang in your life is through Feng Shui, which is the art and energy of space. You can use these principles for interior design to create an environment that invokes a regenerative space for Yang energy. 

A room that is bright, minimal, and filled with solid colors will radiate Yang energy.

A room with soft tones, textures, and dim lighting will help bring in more Yin energy.

Here are ways to increase Yang energy in your living space:

  • Ample light – Yang is associated with light. Preferably your space would have lots of sunlight, but you can also use bright light fixtures. This will especially help with a workspace where you want the strong Masculine energy of action and determination. 
  • Solid Colors – Yang is associated with bold and strong colors. If you have artwork, try and keep it minimalistic with strong shapes and rich tones. You could also look at the color of your walls and make sure they are strong and bold colors.
  • Hard Surfaces – When designing for Yang, think about solidity and hardness. Use tables with solid surfaces and furniture that is not upholstered. Also, use hard-surface materials such as wood, plastic, or cement. Shiny finishes such as glass or glossy finishes also help. Picking out furniture with sharp edges or solid lines will increase yang energy.
  • Minimalism – A room with minimal furnishings and open spaces help create an abundance of Yang. Keeping a room clear of clutter is important for Yang energy in Feng Shui. 

You can use these principles to design a space that invites more Yang into your life.

In Conclusion:

Ancient Chinese philosophies explore Masculinity and Femininity through Yin and Yang. The dualistic approach has been induced into Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, and Feng Shui. 

What I love is how Yin and Yang are believed to be energetic systems within each of us. Looking at how that energy moves through us can unlock a pearl of deep wisdom. 

Looking at your living environments, eating habits, and behaviors can help you understand how much Masculine Yang or feminine Yin you have in your life. 

I like to think of these two energies as circulating streams that move up, down, and throughout the whole body. Sometimes trauma, sickness, or injury can disrupt the flow of that energy. Making it get stagnant in one spot, or like a stream that gets blocked, the water will find another way around it. 

With time and practice, you can begin to notice where those blockages are and work towards bringing them to balance. Allowing the energy to flow through you more easily. 

If you feel your masculine energy is blocked or what to increase it, I created this article on building masculine energy.

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