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Ancient Chinese people were greatly interested in the relationships and patterns that occurred in nature. Instead of studying isolated things, they viewed the world as a harmonious and holistic entity. In their eyes, no single being or form could exist unless it was seen in relation to its surrounding environment. By simplifying these relationships, they tried to explain complicated phenomena in the universe.

Modern symbol of Yin Yang
What is the Yin Yang Theory?

Yin yang theory is a kind of logic, which views things in relation to its whole. The theory is based on two basic components: yin and yang, which are neither materials nor energy. They combine in a complementary manner and form a method for explaining relationships between objects. Gradually, this logic was developed into a system of thought that was applied to other areas. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an example of one area where the yin yang theory is used to understand complicated relationships in the body.
Early Daoism representation of Yin Yang
The Origin of the Yin Yang Theory

The original concept of yin and yang came from the observation of nature and the environment. "Yin" originally referred to the shady side of a slope while "yang" referred to the sunny side. Later, this thinking was used in understanding other things, which occurred in pairs and had complementary and opposing characteristics in nature. Some examples include: sky and earth, day and night, water and fire, active and passive, male and female and so on. Working with these ideas, ancient people recognized nearly all things could have yin and yang properties. Yin and yang can describe two relative aspects of the same phenomena such as the example of the slope, or they can describe two different objects like sky and earth.
Usually, yang is associated with functional aspect of an object and has more energetic qualities, for example, moving, ascending, expanding, heat, bright, progressing, active and hyper-functioning states. Yin, on the other hand, is associated with the physical form of an object and has less energetic qualities such as stillness, descending, contracting, cold, dark, degenerating, latent and under-functioning states.
Frame of References Yang Yin
Light Bright Dark
Temperature Hot Cold
Position Upper Lower
Action Movement Rest
Direction Outward Inward
Physiological functions Excitatory Inhibitory