As the days become warmer and brighter, nature rouses from her winter slumber and looks ahead to the new growth of Spring. Just as nature enters a cycle of renewal, growth and expansion in spring—so does the energy within us. Embrace the opportunity to shed old unwanted layers and make a conscious choice to begin again.
Spring is an expression of life at its strongest, in traditional Chinese Medicine the element Wood is the energy of spring and its associated with the liver and the gall bladder. The Wood, which has been at rest, storing and concentrating its energy under a winter blanket, now bursts forth with new buds, new life piercing the Earth’s crust.
The swelling of Wood of spring initates rebirth – a surge of rising energy, like the young lamb staggering up to nurse, like a dandelion whose growing edge can burst through concrete if it must. Wood is the energy of youth and growth; a new beginning, a vision of a whole new cycle.
This is the season to plant seeds for a future harvest, to look ahead and make new plans, formulate new ideas, make decisions, and determine our direction for the coming year - and to take action.
Here is a closer look into the Chinese wisdom around this season and what it represents and asks of us, the qualities that harmony in Wood element brings forth yoga sequences to balance and support the functioning of Liver and Gallbladder.
As our environment changes during the seasons notice how animals, plants and the earth adapts itself accordingly to live more in balance with the cycles of nature. The human body can also be seen as a miniature reflection of the cosmos an entire universe working inside of us.
We too have seasons that cycle through. Sometimes we have an exuberant amount of energy like the summer and sometimes we need to rest and recharge within the winter. If we have followed natures way and taken a winter rest, we too emerge into Spring ‘raring to go’, with clear vision and a sense of purpose.
Spring is a time of growth, expansion and buoyancy, just like the seed that has been lying dormant in the earth during winter conserving its reserves, in springtime it bounds forward with new intent to bring life to our planet.
The wood element is about renewal, awakening and rebirth. The spirit of the Liver helps us organise and coordinate our ideas and visions into actions and change. The liver function is called the Official of Strategic Planning, the grand architect for our vision of the future; this official sees the direction we must take to live our lives in harmony with nature.
Its companion, the Gall Bladder Official, gives the ability to make decisions and judge wisely. Making a decision is not a matter of choosing between equal alternatives. Through these official we can see both new possibilities and wisdom of the past and thus see the clear and appropriate course to take. Without Wood’s vision and plan, decision and direction, no movement is possible – there is only frustration.
The Liver is in charge of the smooth flow of Qi our vital energy whether it’s emotional or physical, when our vision is stifled we feel adgiatated so the emotion of Wood is associated to anger. When we allow our anger and frustration to go unexpressed we stagnate and are unable to move forward. This inability to properly express oneself can manifest as either being under assertive or overly aggressive, headaches / migraines, menstrual and/or gynaecological issues, PMS, inability to adapt to change, depression....But if our Wood is healthy, we can readjust and begin again.
The virtue of Wood is forgiveness and benevolence, which is the opposite of anger unexpressed. Wood allows us to be well rooted in the past, to stand tall in the present and have the vision and foresight to move ahead in the future.
Tapping into the energy of spring encourages us to stay in touch with our creativity, imagination and dreams. We can look to the trees for a lesson in standing tall by staying rooted, yielding to the winds of life by being flexible and agile and keeping our gaze upward and forward so we don't lose sight of our life true purpose. The winds of Life can change unexpectedly and our flexibility can be a strength when needed.
In your yoga practice this season try approaching your practice with a sense of curiosity and playfulness. Give yourself permission to experiment with new and different postures or approaches to your practice. Try practicing with new sounds, music, or with your eyes closed, chant, light a candle, try a new posture, do more twists which are great for the liver and incorporate more balance postures as you reflect on the strength and grace of the Wood element. Try spending more time outdoors, try yoga in the park and observe the trees in your neighbourhood. Watch how they move and sway with the winds.
The following yin yoga sequence focuses on the Liver and Gallbladder Meridians, which support the body’s natural digestive and detoxification functions. As we tap into our special energy points and spirit that brings insight to help nature do its healing work our focus will be on Gall Bladder 24, which is located in the seventh rib space in line with the nipple called the ‘Sun and Moon’, the Gall Bladder official requires clear vision in order to decide on a course of balance, we identify with only one position and become attached to it; in so doing, we lose our wise judgment. We see things as either black and white, dark or light. This acupuncture point creates a balance that enables us to see both sides impartially – to see by both the ‘light of the sun’ and the ‘light of the moon’. From clarity, we can take action with certainty and strength.
Liver 1 the Great Esteem is located near the lateral corner of the nailbed of the big toe, This is the first point on the Liver merdian – the beginning of spring growth: the energy is present, the plan formulated, the way clear. Any new undertaking is accompanied by uncertainties and risks but they must not thwart us in reaching our goal. It is in our nature to grow, to begin anew and take our first steps. Great Esteem grants us the confidence to surge forth with the power of Springtime – to push ahead, give birth and grow.
This practice is all about embracing the opportunity to shed old unwanted layers and making a conscious choice to begin again. With each passing exhalation, invite a sense of softening in order to let go of mental and physical tension. As you inhale, take in the warmth and nourishment, embodying an overall sense of vibrancy.
Reclined Butterfly : 5mins
Half Butterfly FF : 5mins each side
Dragon: high, low or fire breathing : 5mins
Sleeping Swan : 5mins
Starfish 2mins ~ repeat other side
Legs up the Wall – snail : 5mins
Dragonfly : 5mins
Starfish : 7mins