The Meaning of Yin and Yang Symbols Revealed

Updated April 14, 2022
Yin Yang Symbol On Weathered Wall

The yin yang philosophy is rooted in the belief that everything in the universe consists of two forces that are opposing but complementary. The familiar black and white symbol appears everywhere and is a popular design for tattoos, jewelry, and artwork. But what does the yin yang symbol mean?

Yin and Yang Explained

To understand the yin yang symbol meaning, an understanding of how yin yang energy works is essential. According to ying yang philosophy, the duality of energy in the universe provides balance and harmony. Yin energy holds the more dynamic yang energy in check, and yang energy keeps yin energy from slipping into stagnation. Each force dominates and is then replaced by the opposing force in an infinite struggle for harmony. Yin yang energy is apparent the world around you, appearing as opposites like night and day, hot and cold, summer and winter.

Understanding the Yin Yang Symbol Elements

Every visual detail of the familiar yin yang symbol has meaning. The energy of opposing forces is reflected in the colors and the design.

What Does The Yin Yang Symbol Mean

Meaning of the Black and White Yin Yang Teardrop Shapes

Together, the black and white teardrops represent the interaction of the energies found in all things. The yin yang symbol is a divided circle of two tear-drop shapes of opposite colors--black and white. The right side, in black, descends while the left side, in white, ascends, creating a clockwise pattern of motion. Since the circle is whole, each of these halves is incomplete without the other. Both halves of the symbol are curved, and this creates a sense of movement as the halves narrow into a tail-like effect.

What Do the Small Black and White Circles Mean?

In all yin, there is yang and in all yang, there is yin. The small circles of opposing colors inside the black and white teardrops symbolize that nothing is absolute. In each of the opposing forces, there is a small part of the other. Nothing in the universe or in life is simply black or white. Each exists in the other and each needs the other in order to exist.

The Outer Circle

The circle around the yin yang symbol is easily overlooked, but it's an essential component of its meaning. The outer circle of the yin yang sign represents everything in the universe as well as the universe itself. It encompasses the duality of everything that exists.

What Does Yin Mean?

The black area represents yin and its characteristics:

  • Passive: Yin energy is restive and receptive.
  • Intuitive: The inner sense of understanding life and its nuances resides in yin energy.
  • Creative: The yin energy builds up and bursts forth in creativity that motivates yang energy into action.
  • Moon: The phases of the moon and movement of the moon affect the yin energies on Earth.
  • Dark: The darkness represents the all the expression of yin energy.
  • Cold: The lack of light in darkness brings cold. Coldness becomes a respite from heat in light.
  • Downward movement: Yin energy moves downward in preparation and building up of energy transforming into the rising yang energy. This is the perpetual cycle of chi.
  • Night: The absence of day brings the bold and darkness of night; a time of rest.
  • Soft: Yin energy is soft, making it flexible and capable of bending and giving.
  • Stillness: With the downward movement, yin energy becomes quiet and still.
  • Still water: Yin energy rests in lakes, ponds, deep waters and only in ebbing tides.

What Does Yang Mean?

The white area represents the yang and its characteristics. Yang energy is bright and aggressive. In nature, it represents movement and surging, like crashing ocean waves and flowing rivers.

  • Active: Yang energy is powerful and energetic. It is the energy of creation.
  • Active water: Yang energy drives currents in rivers, streams, oceans and the rising tides.
  • Enlightenment: Yang energy motivates and inspires to understand and reach enlightenment.
  • Bright: A property of the light is its brightness that illuminates the dark.
  • Sun: The movement of the sun affects the yang energy on Earth.
  • Light: The light follows the dark as night gives over to day.
  • Upward movement: A product of the downward movement of yin energy, yang energy blasts upwards.
  • Strong: The opposite of yin weakness, yang energy lifts away from yin energy towards fullness.
  • Hot: The friction of movement generates heat.
  • Expanding: As yang energy bursts free of yin energy, it grows in its upward movement, forever expanding.
  • Hard: Where yin is soft and flexible, yang energy is hard and unbending.

Yin Yang Energy in Your Home

Domestic Kitchen and Dining Room

Every home has a mix of yin and yang energy, and when it's out of balance, you can feel it. A room that feels dark and cold has an overabundance of yin, and a room that feels overwhelming may have too much yang energy. In feng shui, yin yang energy is found in every room of your home. Even without a chart, knowing that yin energy is quiet and dark and yang energy is bright and loud, you can guess the type of energy each room should have.

Yin Rooms

Yin rooms are quiet, restful, and often used for sleep or relaxation. Bathrooms are considered yin rooms, but the movement of water can disrupt the balance.

  • Bedrooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Meditation and yoga rooms
  • Empty rooms and storage spaces.

Yang Rooms

Yang rooms are filled with activity and are often gathering spaces. Light colors and bright lighting are popular for yang spaces, as it brightens up dark yin corners.

  • Living rooms
  • Kitchens
  • Dining rooms
  • Family rooms
  • Playrooms
  • Home offices

What to Do When Your Room Is Out of Balance

The imbalance of chi energy comes when a room's energy is overwhelmed by the opposite energy. There are simple ways to restore yin yang balance in any room.

Rooms With too Much Yin Energy

Though bedrooms and bathrooms should be peaceful and relaxing, if you go too far with yin energy, it will become a dull and lifeless space. Try these simple fixes to increase yang energy:

  • Introduce yang colors as accents in bedding, art, and linens. Use bright and warm pops of color like yellow, orange, and coral.
  • Re-evaluate your window treatments if you aren't getting enough natural light. Feng shui bedrooms should have plenty of soft yin light, but also the ability to let sunlight stream into the room. Adding a set of sheer curtains under your drapes allows you to let yin-friendly filtered light in.
  • Add music to your room, as music is considered yang. Choose soothing music that provides yang energy, but also preserves the soothing yin environment. Nature sounds like rain, waves, and birds, are also a relaxing way to introduce yang energy into a stagnant space.

Rooms With too Much Yang Energy

Living rooms, kitchens, and dining rooms can be exciting and active spaces for gathering. Yang rooms can also become overwhelming very easily, and can benefit from the addition of some yin energy to balance the space.

  • Updating your lighting is one of the easiest way to manage yin yang energy in a room. Add the option to lower the lights when needed, with dimmers for light fixtures or adding lamps that can be used instead of overhead lighting.
  • Add cushions and pillows in soft materials to soften hard yang energy. Even accent pillows in bright yang colors can bring yin to the space when made of velvet, faux fur, or soft fabrics.
  • Paint a neutral accent wall in a yang room that feels overly bright. This is a great way to keep your energetic feng shui color palette by adding a space for visual rest on one wall.

Examples of Yin Yang in Everyday Life

View of beach with sand in front and waves with surf.

You encounter yin and yang every day. Some of these examples are easily recognizable, while others are less so.

  • Day and night - The cold darkness of the yin night gives way to the warm light of day.
  • Ocean waves - As ocean waves crash on the shore, they show yang energy, just as the waves retreating are yin.
  • The seasons - The change of seasons reveals a gradual transition from yang to yin energy, from coldness and dark, to brightness and heat.
  • Music - Classical and new age music are yin, and heavy metal and hip hop are yang. Your favorite musical artists can be both yin and yang with ballads, and then with their high-energy songs.

Yin and Yang Art

Yin yang art is found in home decor, jewelry, and is a popular choice for tattoo art. Though the traditional black and white design is perpetually stylish, variations on the teardrop design and colors are very common. The symbolism of yin yang art remains strong regardless of how it's expressed. You'll find yin yang garden art in outdoor meditation spaces, and spaces where reflection and balance are desired.

Yin and Yang in Harmony

The expression of yin yang energy is apparent in so much of the world around you. The balancing act of yin and yang energy can bring harmony to your home and daily life through an understanding of the eternal struggle to produce harmonious energy.

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The Meaning of Yin and Yang Symbols Revealed