Colour energetics; focus on yellow in feng shui design.

YELLOW and how to use it in feng shui design

The colour of sunshine and springtime, yellow has a powerful positive effect on our mood. In feng shui design we use yellow to uplift and enliven spaces. It conjures up cheerful images of sunny days. Like red, yellow is often used by healers and colour therapists as a tonic and it is said to have a healing effect on the brain and nervous system. Amber was used, by some ancient cultures, as an antidote to insanity. Yellow is said to be the colour of unity, unity of affection and with the spiritual powers of the universe. 


Much of the information we rely on in terms of colour and its effects on us physically and psychologically rely on the very detailed studies done by Faber Birren. He  discusses yellow as “the colour of highest visibility in the spectrum and therefore sharp, angular and crisp in quality. More like light than like substance, more lofty and celestial than mundane”. 

He also notes that because of its “high visibility” it serves many purposes in safety. 

This is why high visibility vests and much of our dangerous machinery are coloured yellow, yellow and black stripes are used to clearly demarcate danger areas in industry and building sites etc. Yellow is often used to alert the user of more dangerous machinery parts such as motors or belts where particular care must be take to avoid injury.

 Yellow sharply focuses our eyes our minds and is the brightest and clearest colour visible to us. The yellow card is shown in sports, as a warning, it alerts us that we need to be more mindful in our actions. 

Yellow will often appear brighter than white, therefore it is useful in areas where there is dim lighting or in large, vaulted, spaces in order to make them feel brighter and more welcoming. 

In studies, yellow has been described as having a favourable effect upon human metabolism. It speeds up our digestion, often stimulating the appetite. This is why it is used in fast food restaurants to encourage us to eat more When used in combination with red, which makes us move on quickly, it truly is the ideal fast food combination! Obviously to be avoided in our own dining rooms and kitchens where we want to encourage relaxed nourishment. 


In colour therapy, yellow is said to “activate the motor nerves, generate energy in the muscles, and is also good to reduce depression.” “The central theme for yellow is detachment. When you cannot detach yourself from other peoples activity; you cannot make your own thoughts or you become over-attached to an idea that you need to let go of, this is the time to engage with the colour yellow.” – Theo Gimbel.  

From this information we can see that the stimulus with yellow is to detach from others and go inward into a more mentally alert state. Therefore, yellow is not an ideal colour to use in a space where we want people to come together in relaxed convivial conversation, for example. However, it would be a good colour to use in small amounts in a study, for example, to maintain mental focus and stay alert. 

Decoration with pure yellow, can be difficult, but in various shades and tints it can create a variety of effects. Yellow in and of itself, is neither warm nor cool, but can be pulled one way or the other when used in combination with other colours or when viewed in different lighting conditions. Pale yellow in a room with a sunny aspect can appear quite warm, but in a northerly facing room or in overcast conditions it can appear washed out. 

In a breakfast room or kitchen, just the right shade or tint of yellow can provide a cheerful start to the day, waking us up after our nights sleep. When using yellow in combination with other colours care must be taken as it can become quite cool. Bright saffron yellows brighten up dark spaces or rooms which only get cool light (north or east facing). The form of lighting used will obviously  have an effect on our perception of yellow. Bold yellow will make a room seem smaller and could be used in combination with white or cool blue for example to counter this effect. 

The exuberance of rich yellows can be played down when combined with lavender, jade or charcoal for example. Yellow is useful as an accent colour as it catches the eye readily, but can be too active if overused, as it does not let then mind relax. As with other primary colours, yellow works very well in children’s playrooms as it stimulates mental activity. However, in a therapy room , for example, or a room where people wish to quiet the mind, such as a bedroom, strong, bright yellow would not be a logical choice. Pure yellow is best used in rooms that are to be used alone, not in large offices, or bedrooms. 

Birren offers some words of caution with the use of yellow: “If overused, yellow encourages detachment, nervousness and shallow breathing, loss of reason and direction and separation of thought from action.” 

Cultural and religious use

Yellow is significant in many cultures for its ability to focus our energy inward allowing greater connection with spirit and to reduce outward distraction. The yellow robe donned by the Buddhist is a symbol that he is now on the path that will lead to spirituality. Vishnu is clad in yellow for the same reason. In the vision of Ezekiel, God is seen in the colour amber. The Mexicans gave the name Kan to the god who supported the sky, the same word means yellow. Yellow is the royal colour  of China and the saffron robes of ancient Irish nobility were a sign of their rank, inviting adoration. The colour yellow also had the symbolism of the metal gold, which is the metal of the sun, thus the colour began to be associated with “all that is pure”. In religious artwork, the halo of saints and of God is often painted in Gold leaf. 

Yellow has some negative connotations in that it is also associated with cowardice, scepticism and slyness; “yellow-bellied”. Judas is often depicted wearing dingy yellow robes. Yellow is the colour of decaying vegetable life and so, when out of balance, it also has the meaning of separation as well as unity. Yellow should not be used in the room of a person suffering from nervous strain as it is said that it can amplify the problem . 

Associated with solar plexus chakra; centre of human recognition and self worth, our emotional brain. In the centre of the diaphragm, this chakra is our transformation centre, shifting and transforming us into the best version of ourselves. This is the chakra connected to power and control, will power and follow-through, metabolism and energy. The chakra associated with Focus Vs Confusion. If we don’t want anything, we will never have anything. Our solar plexus is our inner fire, where we move our inner convictions into action, our power centre which allows us to define our goals. Associated with manifestation, when this chakra is blocked we can procrastinate and even feel so immobilised we can experience panic attacks. When open, we have a greater spirit of adventure, with little or no sense of limitation. 

In feng shui we associate the colour yellow with the earth element with grounded, centering and consolidating energy. It is associated with health and balance and with mother earth, loving nurturing energy, grounded support and with the quiet meditative energy of mountain earth, (although this has more association with earthy pigments moving into browns and terracottas).

Yellow is often recommended to introduce some “sunshine” to a dark space at the centre of a home.




In summary: Yellow

  • The colour of sunshine, uplifting and radiant . 
  • Consolidating in nature, it is the colour of unity. 
  • Stimulates mental clarity, promotes clear thinking and wisdom. Used on heavy machinery to promote clarity and focus.
  • Stimulates appetite, antidepressant. 
  • Associated with solar plexus chakra; Key words for this chakra include; power will, strength, energy, autonomy ,self esteem, effectiveness, confidence and courage. Affirmation associated with this chakra, “I move forward from a place of loving acceptance of my own power to transform into the best expression of myself”.  Visualising a bright spinning disc of golden yellow sunlight in this centre will allow blockages here to be released. 
  • Cultural associations: buddhists don yellow robes to symbolise their path to spirituality. Ancient Irish nobility wore saffron robes as a sign of their rank, Worn by royalty in China. 
Posted in Feng Shui Tips.