The Yellow River governance is a complex system project, and it is of great significance to deeply understand the essential attributes and morphological characteristics of the Yellow River basin and put forward the governance principles based on them to achieve the objectives and paths of the new stage of the Yellow River governance, and to realize the high level of governance of the Yellow River basin and the high quality of socio-economic development. Based on the complexity cognition of governance triggered by the living nature of the Yellow River, this paper analyses the essential attributes of the Yellow River basin phenomena such as the living Yellow River and the injured Yellow River, elaborates the connotation of the living nature of Yellow River governance from three aspects of the living natural environment of Yellow River, the living human society, and the living Yellow River basin. Furthermore the thinking principle of the living nature of Yellow River governance, including respect life and balance & stabilize, and the principle of the practice of symbiotic governance are introduced. Under the guidance of the proposed principles, the action points of the current Yellow River governance are proposed, which mainly include three aspects: following the inner law of the living nature of the Yellow River, focusing on the natural resilience of the Yellow River, and scientifically exploring the natural value of the Yellow River. This paper emphasizes that Yellow River governance needs to respect the living nature of the Yellow River and enhance its importance, so as to provide decision-making references for the complex system of Yellow River governance.