The power of Yin Yang

- Categories : Sacred geometry

Yin-Yang has become a universal philosophical concept that many people readily embrace.

The concept of Yin and Yang is deeply rooted in Chinese philosophy. Its origin dates back at least 2500 years, probably much earlier, playing a crucial role in the formation of the ancient Chinese civilization. Since then, Chinese thinkers have attached great importance to Yin and Yang.

In Asia's search for a universal formula describing balance and harmony, Yin-Yang is now used in fields as diverse as medicine, the arts, religion, sports and politics.

Meaning and definition of the yin yang symbol

What does yin and yang mean?

The Yin Yang is a geometrical drawing figure inscribed inside a circle. On a diameter of this one, two new circles are drawn, which are internal and whose respective diameter is equal to the radius of the circle which contains them. From these inner circles we keep only the drawing of the two half circles which are prolonged between them by describing an axis. The result is like two petals that roll up between them.

Yin and Yang is also known as Tai Chi, The Ultimate Supreme or Great Art. The symbol represents the two fundamental principles of Chinese philosophy. They represent unity in duality.

Yin and Yang are a symbol and metaphor for the two most fundamental forces of nature. It is hailed as one of the greatest philosophical concepts and ideas proposed by ancient Chinese philosophers and naturalists.

The earliest Chinese characters representing yin and yang were found as inscriptions on "oracle bones," the skeletal remains of animals, which would have been used in Chinese divination practices since at least 1300 BC.

The inscription of yin and yang on these bones is literally translated in reference to the movements of the sun. Yang was translated as the sunny side of the mountain, and yin was the shady side of the mountain. Therefore, these early signs of the yin and yang theory were very much related to the movements and cycles based on the sun.

Understanding the shape of Yin Yang

The outer circle represents the "whole", that is to say the universe and all that it contains. It contains the duality of all that exists, the harmony and balance within the universe.

The circle is both beginning and end, finite and infinite, everything and nothing. By its round shape, it evokes the alternation of cycles and the great wheel of life.

The circle then signifies the perpetual movement of the world, due to the energies, the two black and white parts. We must therefore consider the Yin Yang as a wisdom of life in motion.

The symbol of yin and yang invites us to tolerance, acceptance, balance, perseverance and love. It leads to serenity, happiness and harmony.

The original Yin Yang

Despite its presence in everyday life, there is little written information on the origin of the Yin-Yang symbol. I myself went to look for information on foreign sites because in France on all the sites one sees written exactly the same thing and in the end, personally, I find that one does not learn anything at all

Contemporary books and articles usually discuss in detail the philosophical facets of Yin and Yang, but do not address the origin of the Yin-Yang symbol. It turns out that the original Yin-Yang symbol is more complex than its modern representation as suggested by two semi-circles.

The Yin-Yang symbol has its origin in the I-Ching.

The I Ching, also spelled I Ching or Yi-King, is one of the Chinese classics, whose title can be translated as "Book of Changes", "Classic of Changes" or "Canon of Changes" or "Book of Transformations". It is one of the oldest and most fundamental books of Chinese philosophy.

It is originally a treatise on divination, called Zhou Yi, i.e. "Zhou changes", because it was written in the first millennium before the Christian era, during the Zhou period (1027-256 BC). It gives the interpretation of divinatory draws made with yarrow stems. It is based on 8 trigrams and 64 hexagrams, made up respectively of 3 and 6 broken or continuous lines, obtained by counting the yarrow stems used during the drawing, and for each of its forms it provides a brief commentary which leaves room for numerous interpretations.

"The Book of Changes", deals with natural phenomena and their seasonal cycles. From the constant changes and transformations of nature, the I-Ching tries to derive the immutable rules governing our cosmos and our very existence.

The observation of celestial phenomena is therefore of central importance for the I-Ching. This is where we find the roots of the Yin-Yang symbol.

For example, by observing the shadow of the sun and recording the positions of the Big Dipper at night throughout the year, the ancient Chinese determined the four cardinal points: The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. The direction of the shortest shadow measured on a given day reveals the south. At night, the North Star points north.

What is the color of yin and yang? What is the yin side?

This symbol is well known in the western world since the end of the 19th century. Yin is represented by black (or often blue) and symbolizes the feminine, the moon, the dark, the cold, the negative etc.

As for the Yang, it is represented by white (or often red) and symbolizes the masculine, the sun, clarity, warmth, positive etc.

What is the yin yang dragon?

Sometimes we hear about the term yin yang dragon. But what is it exactly?

The dragon has a completely different meaning in China than in most Western countries. In China, for centuries, the Dragon has been a symbol of luck and happiness.

And sometimes we also find the yin yang with the tiger and the dragon.

The Tao embodies the duality of the universe and the life-giving chi at work to balance the opposing forces often represented by the tiger and the dragon. Chinese mythology expresses these two forces of Tiger and Dragon, or Yin and Yang, as perfect complements.

In feng shui, the dragon and tiger are important both inside and outside the home.

Yin energy and yang energy

Just as the movements of the sun adhere to certain laws of the physical realm, which are impersonal, yin and yang also function in this manner. Any natural law that is, is, regardless of our opinions or beliefs and can therefore be considered a universal truth and, therefore, applies to all humans, regardless of race, religion and cultural background.

Yang is commonly expressed as extreme heat, energy, expansion, sun, male energy, etc

Yin is usually expressed in cold, passive, creative, moon, feminine energy, etc

The ancient Taoists discovered that all things, animate and inanimate objects, can be broken down into primarily yin or yang characteristics. This process of breaking things down into two main forces provided a context where the theory and concept of balance could be better understood. It also provided a means that could help humans navigate the cosmic forces of the universe in an aligned and evolutionary friendly manner.

This duality is also associated with many dualities, as can be seen in the image below.

Yin and Yang are two expressions of the same reality. The harmonious line between them indicates that they interact smoothly and efficiently. Yin, at its peak, transmutes into Yang. And conversely, Yang, at its peak, transmutes into Yin. One evolves into the other and vice versa, continuously and without interruption. Yang is associated with a power of activation and Yin carries the latent aspect of transformation.

Thus night follows day, cold follows hot, death follows life, etc.

In everything there is Yin and Yang, as illustrated by the symbol of the point of the opposite color in each polarity. And somehow this tells us that nothing in life is all black and white. It is the interaction of the two forces that creates movement, Qi, the universal energy and life.

Understanding Yin and Yang through its 4 principles

1. Yin and Yang are opposed

Because of the dynamic movement of yin and yang, this principle emphasizes that these forces are in a kind of interlocking and continuous conflict. It is often helpful to visualize in your mind a giant electromagnetic field that extends as far as the imagination will allow. Now imagine this electromagnetic field being crossed by waves and ripples like the waves of the ocean. It is these waves and ripples of movement that generate phases and zones within this energy network, great zones of conflict, or in other words, zones of great resistance. With any resistance, when left long enough, generates and stagnates a massive amount of potential energy until it reaches a tipping point, where the stagnant energy eventually dominates the resisting force, which can generate a massive movement or release of energy. It is this quality of the opposing forces of yin and yang that gives life to dynamic periods of intensity, beauty and sometimes destruction so that the energy can continue to move and eventually adjust towards balance.

2. Yin and Yang create each other and depend on each other

Yin and yang coexist and are linked in a co-dependent relationship. They can only exist as long as its partner, and its opposite force, also exists. It is this interlocking and co-dependent relationship that gives rise to their true definition and shows us that these forces cannot be separated. It is like man and woman, if you took all the men off the planet, all humans would eventually cease to exist because they could no longer procreate. Therefore, man and woman are perfect expressions of the coexisting relationship found throughout the universe.

3. Yin and Yang change and grow in a cyclical and balanced way

The yin and yang are always evolving in a way that moves towards a more balanced state. It does so through the continuous dynamic movement of interaction and restriction. In Taoism, a philosophy based on the study and practice of yin and yang, considers the universe to be autonomous. They believe that it is this yin and yang force that governs all of life, therefore, there is no God or entity outside of these forces that deserves attention or that we can rely on to "fix our lives" if, for some reason, it has fallen apart.

If one were to sit back and observe these yin and yang forces expressing themselves through the natural world, we come to see patterns of yin and yang begin to emerge. The most obvious of these patterns is the changes in weather and the four seasons. We would also see patterns and cycles in the animal world as well as in the human world, in relation to birth, the aging process, illness and death. On closer inspection, we may also be able to observe patterns in our behaviors and thought processes. Whatever we look at or observe, it will soon become apparent that it is indeed constantly changing and that if we look long enough, a pattern will naturally emerge.

4. Yin and Yang turn into each other.

Hot will eventually become cold and cold will eventually become hot. There is simply no other way. Although it may take thousands or millions of years, like an ice age here on Earth, it will still happen, where the sun will come and melt the ice.

Nature has its own way of restoring balance, and according to universal time and space, nature is very, very patient. Another example can be seen right in front of us. We can see it unfolding in our breath. The inhalation will eventually become an exhalation and vice versa. It is impossible to inhale only, without exhaling. Therefore, these forces feed and support each other, giving the possibility to its opposite to express itself and to the life force to exist.

Balancing the Yin Yang

This symbol shows us the way to perfect balance. We only truly know a thing when we have balanced the 2 sides.

Albert Einstein said, "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you have to keep moving

What is often referred to in discussions of the yin and yang theory is the notion of balance. Balance being a somewhat illusory ideal state in which yin and yang are harmonized, equalized. What is rarely discussed is what being balanced really looks like, what does it look like and how do I know if I am balanced or not? What are the signs that present themselves when balance is present? And if one becomes balanced, does that translate into being enlightened?

Due to the nature of Yin and Yang, the state of equilibrium between these forces is actually a very rare event. So much so that the very idea that one can remain in equilibrium for any length of time is not really possible, or at least for a long time. Yin and yang are like the movements of the planets or the rise and fall of the tides. From time to time the planets will align and the tides will be in the middle of the high and low tide, but as we all know, they don't stay in these states for very long.

The best we can do with regard to the continuous dynamic movement from yin to yang is to reduce the intensity and extremity of these changes. So instead of having extreme yang periods of excitement, action and intensity followed by extreme periods of fatigue, sadness and sometimes depression, we need to become more stable and better control our thoughts, emotions, actions and internal energies. To help clarify this, the more stable and less extreme path would be more like a slower and gentler oscillation between yin and yang with regular and longer periods through a state of balance. While the opposite, more extreme expressions of yin and yang would be more like sharper, faster, sharper oscillations that include more extreme ups and downs with very fast and shorter periods going through the state of equilibrium.

For the human being, the wisest approach is to first accept that yin and yang are dynamic forces and that there will always be movement from one to the other, with balanced states coming and going

The second thing we can do is learn to flow with it, not against it, and in doing so, recognize that this emotional state, situation, etc., will always change

The third thing we can do is to avoid pushing ourselves to either extreme by raising awareness and adjusting our lifestyles

Although humanity has little control over the yin and yang forces that are expressed throughout the universe, humans do have a unique ability to learn and adjust behaviors that help govern the yin and yang energies that manifest in our own bodies and minds

The general principle being that it is better to avoid extremes of yin or yang energy, if possible, to be healthy. This principle is part of the basis of traditional Chinese medicine. Any extreme in one direction eventually triggers a dramatic shift to the opposite extreme, which usually manifests as some kind of disease, which manifests as a way for universal forces to stop us in our tracks

Other examples of manifestations of too much extreme yin or yang are mental illness, physical degeneration, toxic organ overload and burnout. In most cases, mainly because of our yang-dominated culture, it is the yang that tends to reach extreme levels before a rapid shift to yin is triggered.

Yin Yang yoga

In today's yoga world, there are different types of yoga practices. And depending on the practice you have it either stimulates your yin side or your yang side.

Stronger styles of yoga such as ashtanga, vinyasa, hot yoga and power yoga are all primarily yang yoga styles, as they are more focused on generating immense amounts of heat in the body.

Slower, gentler styles of yoga such as restorative yoga, yin yoga, and gentle yoga are more focused on slowing down the body's movements and improving awareness and mindfulness, and are considered to be more yin in nature.

If you are interested in yoga and yoga practice, it is important to determine whether a yang style practice or a yin style practice may be more suitable for you.

Generally speaking, yang yoga is not good for everyone, and in some cases, stressed and anxious people tend to practice a lot of yang style yoga. Often, these people attend a yang yoga class and come out at the end still agitated and very nervous simply because many yang yoga styles are very challenging and fast-paced, which means your mind has to be very fast to keep up. For these people, yin yoga styles would be much more beneficial in helping them slow down. For those who already have a lot of heat in their body, suffer from high blood pressure, high stress levels, have trouble sleeping and are easily agitated and nervous, yang yoga, is not recommended.

Similarly, those who are very yin in nature would benefit more from a yang style yoga practice as it would greatly help them to stimulate their dormant energy potential and boost their metabolism and circulation. Yang style yoga is ideal for those who feel stagnant or have a tendency to depression, as both of these symptoms are typical signs that energy is blocked in the body, waiting to be activated. Yang helps us to activate and turn on our nervous system, which can easily take us out of unnecessary headspace and negative attitudes.

How to draw the yin yang?

Here's a cool tutorial that you can use as inspiration to draw this symbol.

How to use the Yin Yang symbol?

This symbol of Yin and Yang has, like other symbols, 2 polarities, negative and positive depending on the direction of rotation.

Therefore, it can be used in two ways: either to activate a process or to slow it down. It is the first process that we have chosen to develop in our vibratory articles: that is, with the positive side forward; the side or the dark Yin of the water descends and turns clockwise.

For example, if you need help with a job interview or an exam, it is best to use it as we suggest.

Conversely, to calm energy or slow down an activation, it's good to use it in the other direction.

And as with all other sacred symbols, here are some possible uses:

● The Yin Yang symbol is a very effective symbol for rebalancing our energy state.
● Placing a Yin Yang under your food, beverages, seeds and supplements will energize them.
● You can place your stones, minerals on this symbol to cleanse and recharge them.
● You can also hang a Yin Yang on the wall to reharmonize certain rooms.

Find our Yin Yang collection here

In conclusion

Yin and yang provide us with one of the simplest and most practical applications for studying and understanding the forces of nature

The philosophy of yin and yang is one of the oldest contributions to mankind, but its deeper understandings have been distorted and lost over time. And so modern man seems to be rushing here and there, without much direction or focus, getting lost in the labyrinth of his own mind.

With the application of yin and yang in our daily lives, we can more easily tap into a source of energy far greater than our own personal will that can not only serve as a guide, but also dissolve many struggles and avoid loss of energy.

We arrive at the end of this article. I hope you liked it, do not hesitate to comment, to share and to subscribe to our newsletter to be informed of the next publications.

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The power of symbols at Trajectory Editions
Extracts from "The Yin and Yang Lifestyle Guide" by Michael Hetherington

Original publication of the article: 15/05/2020
Updated on 17/06/2022

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