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The Low Down on the Yin Yang

The concept of Yin Yang is one of the most important principles in Chinese metaphysics. The others include the principle of the Five Elements and the Bagua.

The ancient Chinese believe that in the beginning there is a state of nothingness or a void and they call it Wu Ji and it is symbolized by a circle.

Out of this nothingness come two primary energies which are the opposite of each other. One is active while the other is passive. The active energy is called yang while the passive energy is called Yin. The interaction of Yin and Yang energies is unending and neither is more important than the other.

The continuous interaction of Yin Yang is often depicted by the Tai Ji symbol. The black potion symbolizes the Yin energies while the white portion symbolizes the Yang energies.

The circular arrangement suggest the continuous cycle of interaction. The growing and contracting of the Yin and Yang suggest that a never ending cycle of change. The black dot in the Yang portion of the symbol suggests that when Yang reaches its maximum, yin starts to grow and vice versa.

In addition, the close contact between the Yin and Yang portion symbol suggest that both are important and equal and neither one is more important or conquer the other.

This concept of Yin Yang can be applied to everything. For example strong is Yang while Weak is Yin. Traits such as day, summer, sun, motion, white, angular, shiny for example can be classified as Yang while night, winter, moon, stillness, black, smooth and dull can be classified as Yin.

In the rest of this article, I will explain how Yin and Yang applies to the seasons, plants, objects, human beings, the Five Elements etc.

When applied to seasons, Yin is winter while Yang is summer. Spring is a period of increasing Yang while autumn is a period of increasing Yin.

When applied to plants, live plant is Yang while dead wood e.g. table and chair is Yin. Live plants can be further classified where a large tree is Yang and the small plant is Yin. Those with rounded leaves are Yin while those with narrow leaves are Yang.

When applied to objects those that are small, rounded, dull and cold to the touch is Yin. Those that are large, angular, shiny and warm to the touch are Yang. What about jewellery like tungsten rings which are both metallic and rounded? Since it’s a metal, and a dull metal, it maybe classified as yin while shiny gold is more yang.

In humans, the left brain (logic) is Yang while the right brain (creativity) is Yin. Those with boastful, loud, aggressive and impulsive personalities are Yin while those with shy, quiet, soft-spoken and patient personalities are Yang.

The human body can also be classified into Yin and Yang. The front and the part below the waist is Yin while the back and the part above the waist is Yang. The internal organs can be classified too. The heart, lung, liver, spleen and kidney are Yin while the small and large intestine, gall bladder, stomach and bladder are Yang organs.

What about spaces? The bedroom, study and storeroom are Yin. The living room, kitchen, family area and dining are Yang. Generally speaking those areas that require less noise and lighting where it is easier to concentrate or rest is Yin and vice versa.

Finally what about the Five Elements? You may have heard of Yin and Yang Water. Yin Water is one that is still and do not move. For example water in a jar. Yang Water on the other hand has movement such as a water fountain or aquarium.

Is the river Yin or Yang water? If you follow the course of a river from source to sea, you will notice that there are places where a river slows down considerable and also place where it accelerates. In general a river is yang but within Yang you have also places where it is more Yin (when it slows down) and places where it is more Yang (when it accelerates).


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Yin Yang Places

A busy highway is considered a very Yang location. A lonely deserted area is very Yin. In Feng Shui, it is not good to live near places that have excessive Yin or Yang energy. Yin Yang must be in balance. This is the reason why you should not buy a home that is facing or located very closed to a busy road.

There are other places with a strong Yin energies. These include places of worship, funerals homes, hospitals etc. As a rule you should not buy a house that is located very closed to them.

Power Plant
Power Plant

What about places with strong Yang energies such as power generation plants or substations, prisons, schools, petrol stations etc? The same rule applies. You should not buy a house that is located very closed to them.

A place with a balance of Yin Yang is ideal.

I would like to make a special mention of cemeteries which are Yin in nature. As cities expand, it is not surprising to find ourselves living very near to cemetery sites. The ancient Feng Shui practitioner do not encourage. They believe that the house of the living should be separated from the house of the dead!

There is another reason why we should not buy a house near a cemetery. As development encroach on their land is it quite possible that some of the coffins especially unmarked ones, are not exhumed and we may end up building a house over it.

This is a taboo and many stories have been told about the bad consequence of having a house built over a coffin!

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Yin Yang Concept

In the study of Chinese medicine, we are well when the Yin and Yang of our body is in a state of balance. But when the body body goes out of balance or when when there is too much Yin or Yang, we fall sick. The aim is to keep the body in balance. This is the basic Yin Yang concept.

This is why watermelon is consumed in Summer while double boiled soup is taken in winter. Watermelon has a cooling effect and it serves to cool the body during the hot summer months. In Winter, the hot double boiled soup provide balance by warming the body.

yin yang
Yin Yang Symbol

But what has this to do with Feng Shui?

Just like our body, we are also striving for balance in our home. For example, the concrete structure of your home is Yang while the plants in the garden is Yin. A good Feng Shui home should ideally have a mix of concrete structure and landscaping.

Here are more example. A large home with very few occupants is considered to be Yin. A house that is brightly lit and painted entirely in white is too yang. A home that is dark with small doors and windows that are closed most of the time is too Yin and considered to be out of balance.

The balance of Yin and Yang is a fundamental requirement in Feng Shui.

This Yin Yang concept is pervasive in Chinese metaphysics and is use in many other disciplines. Let me give you an example from Chinese naming.

In this system we are influenced by elements that are derived from our date of birth. By charting our birth chart we can see the mix of elements that we are ‘made’ of. Let’s say that you have too little water elements in your chart. Water is needed to restore balance. In the system of Chinese naming, one of the technique is to introduce the character ‘water’ or either characters that represent water such as river, lake, sea etc into the name.

This is the basic yin yang concept!

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Yin and Yang Meaning


The ancient Chinese subscribe to a concept called Yin Yang which is a belief that there exist two complementary forces in the universe. One is Yang which represents everything positive or masculine and the other is Yin which is characterized as negative or feminine. One is not better than the other. Instead they are both necessary and a balance of both is highly desirable.

This thinking is different from the duality of most religion where one state overcomes the other e.g. good over evil. In the concept of Yin Yang, too much of either one is bad. The ideal is a balance of both. The hot Saharan desert for example is an example of extreme Yang while the bitter cold Antarctica is extreme Yin. Neither is desirable.

The Tai Chi Symbol

Yin Yang
Yin Yang

The Yin Yang meaning is embodied by the Tai Chi symbol shown on the left. It is a circle made up of two different tadpole or fish like parts, one in black (known as the Yin side) and the other in white (known as the Yang side). You will notice that in Yang (represented by the white tadpole) lies the seed of Yin (represented by the black dot) and vice-versa. In addition Yin and Yang are cyclical. In the symbol you can see that Yang grows but at its height, Yin emerge. Then Yin grows and at its height Yang appears and the cycle repeats itself. Actually another way to look at Yin and Yang is contraction and expansion!

I have given some examples of Yin and Yang states below and I hope they help you get a better grip on this concept or yin yang meaning.

Here goes. Yin is soft while Yang is hard. Yin is stillness while Yang is movement. The sun is yang while the moon is yin. Female is Yin while Man is Yang. Mountain is Yin while the river is Yang. Intuitive is Yin while Logical is Yang. Winter is Yin while Summer is Yang and so on.

Are you getting the idea? Yin Yang meaning?

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