Uncovering the Truths Behind the Meaning of Yin and Yang

meaning of yin and yang

Has the concept of Yin and Yang baffled you for the longest time? Well, you are not alone. The Yin Yang symbol has been a complex concept that originated in Chinese culture for thousands of years. This Yin Yang represents the enigmatic principles of the universe’s cosmic energies.  Keeping it balanced means peace and harmony. Disturb its equilibrium, however, and you can expect total chaos. Join us as we uncover the real meaning of Yin and Yang. Feel free to have these helpful footnotes as well:

  • The complex nature of the Yin and Yang meaning
  • What does Yin and Yang mean for the modern society?
  • Various interpretations regarding the meaning behind Yin and Yang
  • How and when did the Yin and Yang origin come about?
  • Can Yin and Yang explained simply, make more sense?

So let’s go on and learn what is the meaning of Yin and Yang.

What Is the Meaning of Yin and Yang: An Overview

To know what is the meaning of Yin and Yang it is important to first trace it back to its origin. Some of the oldest written records date back to the Yin dynasty (around 1400-1100 BCE). As well as the Western Zhou dynasty (around 1100-771 BCE).

The oldest records of this principle are in the Zhouyi, written by King Wen in the 9th century BCE. It specifically discusses how the flow of Yin and Yang is all around nature. This concept became very popular in the Spring and Autumn period (770-476 BCE). And in the Warring States Period in the Chinese ancient history dating 475-221 BCE).

This idea made a big impact on thousands of years among Chinese philosophers. These included scholars related to Taoism like Lao Tzu (571-447 BCE). And Confucianism with Confucius himself (551-479 BCE). Its scope had its influence on medicine, martial arts, and literature. Even in science, politics, beliefs, daily behavior, as well as intellectual pursuits.

On the Symbol’s Origin

The origin of the symbol of Yin and Yang can is in the Chinese time-keeping system during ancient times. It uses a pole to measure the changing lengths of the shadows during the solar year. This invention was created in China as far back as 600 BCE. Some had even suggested that the symbol has a very close approximation. Amazingly, the graphical representation of the change of the pole’s shadow length during the entire year is present.

Yang starts at the winter solstice, indicating the start of the period when daylight is the dominating force over darkness. Thus, it’s close relationship with the sun. Consequently, Yin begins during summer solstice wherein the darkness is dominant over daylight. Associating it with the moon.

The Yin-Yang is also a representation of the observation of the earth’s shadow on the moon. As well as the recorded position of the Big Dipper constellation throughout the year. The following observation composes the compass’ four points. Our sun rises in the east and sets out in the west. The shortest shadow’s direction measured is south. During the nighttime, the pole star points to the north.

This is the reason why the Yin and Yang are deeply connected with the yearly cycle of the earth around the sun, and the coming and going of the four seasons.

Analyzing the Meaning of Yin and Yang Symbol

Every now and then one catches a glimpse of this symbol. A tattoo on a friend’s back, or in one of your fave Chinese action films, perhaps? This is the symbol of Yin and Yang. It originated from a religion in China called Daoism and has a far deeper meaning than one could realize.

yin and yang symbol

The dark swirl you see is the Yin while the light one is the Yang. Each one has a small dot opposite its color. This gives a good clue to its meaning. Which implies everything has the seed of their opposite. The seed of goodness resided in Darth Vader. While Luke had the potential to follow in his father’s footsteps to the dark path.

Just like Luke and his dad, Yin and Yang are not really opposites. Well, at least not totally. Rather, they are relative to one another. Daoists believe that our earth consists of energies, vibrations, as well as matter. Which behaves differently depending on their contexts.

Anything can be Yin or Yang depending on the situation. Wheat growing is Yang. When you reap it, it is now Yin. The wave’s crest is Yang, while its trough is the Yin. Your car break is Yin, and your gas pedal is Yang. The egg’s shell is Yang, and the egg within is Yin.

Yang is stronger, harder, faster, brighter. But one can easily turn into the other. They have two sides but are the same coin. The sunbeams are Yang, compared to the shadows. When you pitch there’s Yang, when your opponent catches it, that’s Yin. Yang begins acting, while Yin gets and completes it.

The inside of the cup is Yin, and it cannot be a cup without it. Yang, on the other hand, is the cup. But the coffee’s heat is Yang, and the blackness, Yin. Yang has the tendency to do berserk at times. But there are very powerful Yins as well, so long as they don’t go berserk.

The dark swirl Yin is the female. But it has a white dot in it. Then Yang is the male, the lighter one. Then again, it has a black dot init.

Water that flows calmly in the river is Yin. And when it goes over the waterfall, it turns into Yang. Toothpicks are the Yin, in comparison to a telephone pole. Your back is Yin, while your front and your head is Yang.

Meaning of Yin and Yang: Power In the Universe

Daoism teachings state that there is power in our universe. A deeper, higher, truer power than any other known force. This is what you call the ‘dao’, meaning the way. Just like the force you see on Star Wars, this dao has two sides.

Unlike other religions where the domineering power is good and has an evil opponent, Daoism teaches that one has to learn from both the Yin and the Yang. And compared to other religions where the person has the higher power, in Daoism, they are not.

Daoism believes that living in harmony with the ‘way’, an individual will have no need to fight against the natural flow of the universe. So it’s better to listen more, and argue less. Be prepared to back up or undo something. This way you will enjoy some hasty progress. Stop worrying about being the best, just be yourself.

Enjoy simplicity, for complications take you farther away from the dao. A wise person is very flexible. Learning to use the dao is what Daoism religion is all about. This is the reason why one should learn their Yin from their Yang.

Meaning of Yin and Yang: The Importance of a Balanced Mind and Body

As ancient Chinese philosophy believes, Yin and Yang is a dualism concept. Which means all things have two facets. Thus, nothing is entirely good or entirely bad. These two qualities both oppose and complement each other at the same time.

Yin and Yang possess the possibility of change and opposition. There is separation, merging, and interaction. The Yin and yang create, control, and transform each other. This is what creates the physical world.

The life-force energy to the ancient Chinese is the “Qi”. This is the underlying energy that gives life to all things physical. It is the physical world of qi vibration, which alternates between the Yin and Yang energies. Two halves are important to mutually form the Qi wholeness.

Mixing these two energies is what makes life possible. When this energy is properly balanced, Yin and Yang flow smoothly. This promotes and maintains a good physical and emotional health state. Unfortunately, there is too much stress in the present which negatively affects the flow of Qi. Thus, damaging one’s overall health and well-being.

In the Western Medicine teerms, the Yin and Yang balance is understood as the balance of the autonomic nervous system. Or the A.N.S. The A.N.S is a crucial part of the whole nervous system. It acts mainly unconsciously and automatically. Influencing important organ functions such as digestion, heart rate, respiratory rate. And even sexual arousal.

This composes both the sympathetic (Yang), as well as the parasympathetic (Yin) nervous system. They are always operational. The two parts always need to be balanced in order to achieve the A.N.S. equilibrium. There are times when the Yin part is more active. Other times, the Yang. This is how the body stays in a balanced, homeostatic, and healthy state.

Meaning of Yin and Yang: When Things Go Berserk

In our Yang part, the sympathetic nervous system is activated by stress or danger. This puts us into a ‘fight or flight response. The Yin part of the parasympathetic nervous system is the one that regulates one’s ‘feed and breed’ or ‘rest and digest’ functions. What happens when there is overstimulation of one’s Yang energy. This is due to stress over long periods of time, the body goes into a hyper-sympathetic state. This leads to emotional, somatic, and behavioral consequences.

Everyone knows that stress is bad for you. But what it really means is that being sympathetically dominant for very long periods isn’t good. And not having enough time in the parasympathetic state becomes problematic. You will be missing out on the time you need regeneration, healing, and nourishment for your body.

When this happens, your parasympathetic nervous system will be overrun. If such a thing continues for a very long time, you will experience ‘Yin deficiency’ symptoms. These could appear in the form of insomnia, muscle tightness, frequent anxiety, and feelings of frustration. In short, the more balanced your A.N.S. is, the stronger and healthier you will be.

Meaning of Yin and Yang: Their Necessary Bond with Qi

Two concepts fundamentally unique to Chinese medicine are Qi or vital energy, and Yin and Yang. These concepts form the roots of Chinese medicine. Springing from their roots are basic theories and principles about the dynamics of Qi and the Yin and Yang. Which then becomes the stem of Chinese medicine. Potential causes of disharmony fall into two general categories. These are deficiency and excess.


This specifically refers to a deficiency of one or more manifestations of the Qi within the body. However, it could also refer generally to an insufficiency of the things needed to normally sustain and nourish you in life. These include food, shelter, warmth, physical and mental stimulation, as well as social interaction. And most important of all is love.

In order to make appropriate responses to the shifting Yin and Yang dynamics, you must have sufficient amount of Qi. Most of the Qi one uses in life comes from what you eat and the air you breathe. Thus, Chinese medicine puts great importance on an adequate and appropriate diet of fresh and nutritious food. Plus the ability and opportunity to breathe good clean air all the time.


This is referring to something very detrimental to one’s nature. But could also mean an overabundance of something relative to your need for it. Some examples include:

  • Toxins from the environment like toxic chemicals or pollutants
  • Too many environmental influences like too much cold, heat, or humidity
  • Dietary excess
  • Excessive feelings/emotions (i.e. too much sadness, grief, worry, fear, or anger. Even too much joy may be harmful).
  • Too much physical activity
  • Overthinking
  • Too much sex

How to Avoid Disharmony In the Body

In order to avoid disharmonies caused by excess or deficiency, one must have sufficient mindfulness, as well as mental clarity. You need this so you can perceive the world and determine your needs. One must learn how to meet those needs without having to create more problems or disharmony in the world around you.


A cluttered, distracted, and stressed-out mind filled with too much worry should be avoided at all costs. This is not only the result of disharmony but could also be a potential cause for further damage.

This is the reason why the cultivation of a quiet mind is very important in the cultivation of one’s overall health and well-being. Meditation, yoga, and other such practices can be of great help. These are necessary in order to cultivate a quiet mind which is the single most important thing one can do for themselves.

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