Are You Yin or Yang? A Quiz by Nina Simonds

(Excerpted from A Spoonful of Ginger—now in paperback!)

Everyone possesses both yin and yang elements that are constantly shifting depending on age, health, lifestyle, environment, and diet. We are all born, however, with a general disposition toward being yin or yang, which is hereditary as well as dependent on several other factors. Since balance is the key to good health, it is helpful to know what your disposition is. Are you yin or yang?

According to Dr. Chin-Han Zhu, a third-generation Chinese physician who practices in the Boston area, a Chinese doctor often observes general characteristics that indicate whether a person is yin or yang. They are the following:

Yin Body Types
– Listless or lacking energy
– Thin and pale-faced
– Vulnerable to infectious diseases
– Relaxed, easygoing, and quiet
– Sensitive to cold

Yang Body Types
– Usually superactive, hyper, full of energy and vitality
– Generally heavyset or overweight
– Flushed face or ruddy complexion
– Restless or impatient
– Not sensitive to cold
– Easily constipated
– Susceptible to hypertension, hyperthyroid condition, and strokes

To diagnose a patient’s illness, a Chinese physician first inquires about physical symptoms such as general body pains and problems with the ears, nose, or throat. He or she also examines the patient’s tongue and takes the patient’s pulse, measuring the qi, or energy, on both wrists, which corresponds to the main organs in the body, including the heart, liver, kidney, lungs, and spleen. Usually questions will also be asked regarding:

– Diet, digestion, stools, and urination
– Intake of drugs, alcohol, and nicotine
– Perspiration and sleep patterns
– Menstrual patterns, pregnancies, and menopause

Note: Diagnosis by a qualified Chinese doctor or physician is recommended for discerning illness and whether your body type is yin or yang.