The essence of Yin and Yang from a Chinese perspective is that we live in an ever-changing world. The qualities of change that exist within us and around us can be described and understood by applying the principles of Yin and Yang. These qualities of energy underpin all traditional Chinese practice and are applied in: acupuncture, acupressure, Chinese herbal medicine, Chinese astrology, martial arts and Feng Shui.

Early Chinese sages acknowledged that humanity was affected by two dominant forces. Namely: Heaven and Earth. Heaven was regarded as the space above us, incorporating the stars and the Chi from the cosmos, and was given the term Yang, which also represents Father. Its dominant force is that of a descending tendency towards the earth. Earth was regarded as the source of Chi beneath the ground that rose up vertically and returned to the cosmos. This Earth Chi represents the landscape, our environment and the food we eat. It was also given the feminine connotation of Mother.

The first sage to write about Yin and Yang was Lao Tzu in his classic, the Tao Te Ching, written 500 BC. In his poetic prose, Lao Tzu describes how all human affairs are governed by the changing world in which we live, which can be categorised by the forces of Yin and Yang.

Lao Tzu gives many practical examples of this working dynamic. For example, it is impossible to understand heat (Yang) without having any knowledge of cold (Yin). How is it possible to describe the daylight (Yang) without any knowledge of the dark and the night (Yin)?

History of the famous Yin/Yang Symbol

Historically, the followers of Lao Tzu, known as Taoists, are acknowledged as the authors of the Yin/Yang symbol. The symbol itself beautifully expresses the concept of a universe with two dominant forces – Yin and Yang and their perpetual motion.

To begin with, the circle represents the ‘wholeness’ of the entire universe. Next, the circle can also represent a cycle. As far as the symbol is concerned, the cycle begins at the bottom, which from a Chinese perspective represents the night or the winter, and when the forces of Yin are at their peak. The colour black always represents Yin – the night and the winter, whereas the colour white represents Yang – the daytime and the summer.

As you progress clockwise around the cycle from the bottom, after the peak of Yin, the tail or the beginning of Yang starts to form and rises towards the top of the cycle, which represents the noon and the mid-summer. It is at this point that the white (the Yang) sector of the cycle is at its peak. At the top of the cycle, the tail of the Yang – the beginning – starts to form and as it descends, on the right side of the cycle, towards the bottom, the Yin is becoming stronger.

Within each half of the symbol appears an eye with the opposite colour. This represents another facet of the Taoist philosophy, that nothing is totally Yin or Yang. In other words, within the Yang there is always a small amount of Yin, and within the Yin there is always a small amount of Yang.

Practical examples of this thinking would be to take extreme Yin (cold) which ultimately freezes and becomes hard or sharp (Yang).

These principles of Yin and Yang are used as the basis for the oldest system of astrology in continuous use today, I Ching Astrology.

Yin & Yang in your living environment

The location of our home or office and its surrounding landscape can have Yin or Yang qualities that can affect us. Within our homes, the colours, the interior design and the layout can create and embody qualities of Yin and Yang – stillness or activity.

Making Balance with Yin and Yang

One of the earliest mentions of Yin and Yang in relationship to Feng Shui appeared in the 6th century A.D. regarding Landscape of Form School Feng Shui. Yin and Yang were simply epitomised by the location of a dwelling on the shady (Yin) side of the hill or the sunny (Yang) side of the hill.

The attributes of Yin and Yang. It’s important to remember that all the qualities of Yin and Yang are tendencies and would have been drawn from the sages’ experience of the natural world in which they lived and that we continue to do so also. These tendencies or qualities can be classified as follows.


White, red, green


Black, blue

The Principles of Yin and Yang

There are two vital dynamics of Yin and Yang that are well worth noting and remembering.

1. If there is a dominance of one of the Yin or Yang characteristics present in your life or your environment, it will ultimately make you take on that quality. For example, if you live in a cold, damp, dark basement (Yin), this Chi will affect you and you will become cold, passive and unenthusiastic.

2. At their extremes, Yin turns into Yang and vice versa. For example, if you apply extreme heat to a rock or a piece of metal it will ultimately Yin-ise and become fluid and flexible. If, on the other hand, you apply the principle of extreme Yin – cold – to water, it will freeze and become hard. If you take a holiday in a very hot Yang climate, you will become very relaxed and lethargic (Yin). On the other hand, if you live in the extreme cold mountainous regions of the world, you will become very active, focused and resilient (Yang).

Yin & Yang and Feng Shui

Generally speaking, our home is a more Yin environment compared to the workplace. Our home is where we retreat, where we relax and recover our strength and energy. To help achieve this, we bring many Yin qualities and features into our homes. These include: soft furnishings, softer lighting, mellow colours, soft carpets, music, plants and artwork that is either comforting or relaxing. Conversely, within the work environment, where our Chi needs to be more Yang, we tend to bring in more: brighter lighting, clear and practical furnishings, Yang colours, in particular white, imagery that is focused and practical, e.g. wallcharts and calendars, fewer plants, harder floors, and less music.

Even within the home, we can create more Yin or more Yang rooms or themes within the house. If you are raising healthy, young, boisterous children, they need a more Yang and uplifting environment. This can be achieved with brighter lighting, brighter colours and stimulating imagery. If, on the other hand, the home is occupied by elderly people, they prefer a more Yin environment where the lighting is softer and darker, imagery is peaceful and the general ambience is more mellow.

Making Balance

A useful tip using Yin and Yang is always to bring in a little of the ‘opposite’ into your environment. For example, if you occupy a Yang bright office, bring in a touch of Yin – a plant, a flower, an image that is either romantic or mellow. On the other hand, in a Yin darker room at home, use brighter colours, a bright light.

Author's Bio: 

Published eight books on and around the subjects of Acupressure, Feng Shui Astrology, The 10 Day Re-Balance Programme, Piatkus Guide to Feng Shui, Feng Shui Journey, Macrobiotics for Beginners, Zen and the Art of Cooking, The Authentic I Ching and I Ching Astrology.

I Ching Astrology Ltd
Jon Sandifer
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