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Bloom into Spring: Tools to Bring Wood Element Into Your Yoga Practice

Spring is connected to the Wood Element in TCM. Wood is the energy of awakening, renewal and growth. Winter is the yin-est season, a time when nature rests, restores and conserves its energy reserves. Whereas spring is a time of expansion, where nature bounds forth with new life and intension. Just like the seed, that has been hibernating during the winter, may go through some struggle to gather the energy to break through the surface into bloom, we can also experience some sensations of ‘growing pains’ in spring. This may manifest in feelings of being stuck, as we transition from a time of rest and stillness to a time where nature is calling us to awaken and bring to life our visions and goals. In this change of seasons we may experience bursts of energy and also times of tiredness. That said, spring is my favorite season and a beautiful time to draw energy and inspiration from nature and deepen your practice. During this time of transition, your yoga practice can support you to manage your energy levels and support your visions for the bloom into spring.

The whole idea of adapting our yoga practice and our daily routines to be in line with the seasons, is not an airy fairy concept. Rather it reflects ancient wisdom, long followed in civilizations around the world and still reflected today in both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine/ TCM. These traditions recognized the necessity of making changes to our activities and habits to be able to live in balance with the natural world, of which we are a part. These practices are drawn from the observations made around how all of nature... animals, plants, the elements, humans change alongside the seasons. In both Ayurveda and TCM the human body is seen as comprising all the elements of nature within it and is a reflection of the totality of the universe itself, in all its complexity. Each of us are unique and may be predisposed to one or more tendencies and characteristics associated with the elements. Working with the elements in our yoga practice and understanding our unique composition, is thus a way to find balance in our lives. Moreover elements are not static, they are dynamic, as we are too… we may evolve and change over our lives. We also experience the natural ebbs and flows of the seasons. Sometimes we have an abundant source of energy like the summer and at other times we need to slow down and rest like the winter.

The Wood Element is associated with the Liver and Gallbladder and their Meridians. It is worthwhile noting that unlike in Western Medicine, in TCM organs are attributed a much wider and more holistic function, not only in the body but also in the mind, emotions and spirits. In TCM our ability to envision, plan, be creative and put our dreams into action is connected to liver health and to the ethereal spirit (Hun) housed in liver. And so a balanced wood element is associated with our ability to plan, envision and bring our dreams to realization. Healthy liver ensures the smooth flow of Qi (vital energy) and healthy digestion of emotions. When Qi is flowing and spreading freely in the body our emotions are also appropriate and we feel at ease. When Liver’s function of regulating Qi is restrained, then we can fell emotions of anger, frustration and depression. Dealing with wood’s primary emotions of anger and frustration, when digested healthily and channeled wisely, can be directed into creativity and energize our visions and dreams into action. Liver is also connected to health of our tendons, nails and eyes in TCM. Liver meridian runs from our big toe, up the inner thigh, over the rib cage and ends under the nipple. In your practice, focus on asanas and yin shapes that stimulate this meridian, particularly the inner thighs.

The gallbladder in TCM works together with liver, it helps us to feel supported in our decision making and gives us both the clarity and courage to make the right decisions that support our best interests. Feelings of indecisiveness, lack of clarity and feeling overwhelmed by the many possible paths one could take, are the signs of a weak gallbladder. Gallbladder meridian transverses the top and sides of the head and temples, runs down the neck, side of the torso and side of the leg, ending in the fourth toe. In your practice, focus on asanas and yin shapes that stimulate this meridian, particularly the outer leg and torso, like side bends and twists.

When wood element is out of balance we may feel the weight of the world on our shoulders and we are easily overwhelmed and discouraged by the pressures and stresses of life. Sensations of being stuck, struggling to adapt and hampered personal growth are linked to Liver Qi stagnation. Indecisiveness and feeling unsupported or that we lack a strong direction are linked to a weak gallbladder. Wood imbalance often leaves us feeling constrained by society and we experience emotions of anger and frustration. Common ailments associated with wood imbalance include migraines, eye problems, menstrual problems and tendon problems, among others. When wood element is healthy, we feel adaptable, creative, energetic, a sense of adventure and as if we can overcome any challenge that comes our way. A strong wood energy brings in clarity and decisiveness around our visions and goals and a sense of determination to see through our plans.

5 Tools to Bring Wood Element Into Your Yoga Practice

  1. Wood Salutations: transform your sun salutations by adding some twists and side bends into the mix e.g. parivrtta anjaneyasana. Twisting asanas and stretching into the side body are wonderful to stimulate wood element meridians. Other Asanas to practice often in your yang practice focused on inner thighs (liver meridian) twisting and core (gallbladder meridian): Parivrtta Utkatasana/ twisted chair, Parivrtta Parsvakonasa (parsvakonasana b), parivrtta trikonasana, twisted half moon/ parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana, half lord of the fishes/ Ardha matsyendrasana, supine twists, Marichyasana C,D, Navasana/ boat, lizard/ Utthan Pristhasana, Baddha Konasana/butterfly, Skandasana etc.

  2. Practice Yin Shapes that focus on the Liver and Gallbladder Meridians: Gallbladder: Swan, Cat Pulling its Tail, Twisted Roots, Shoelace, Banana Asana, Threaded Child’s Pose. Liver: Sleeping Butterfly, Happy Baby, Squat/ Malasana, Sphinx, (half) Frog, Butterfly, Dragon, Dragonfly

  3. Pranayama and Kriya: Spring is a time when we may feel bursts of energy and then moments of tiredness too. So allow a flexible approach to your pranayama (and asana) practice. When you need to re-energise and detox you can practice Bhastrika pranayama or Kapalabhati and Nauli Kriya. When you need to settle the sometimes anxious energies of spring try a balancing practice like Anuloma Viloma or Yogic Belly Breath.

  4. Meditation: Green is the colour of Wood Element, so include visualization of a nourishing green in your meditations, you can color your breath with a green reminiscent of nature’s revitalization. Spend more time in nature, enjoying a walking meditation and try to take your asana practice outdoors. Try a shaking meditation: nothing fancy just shake it out! An imbalance of wood may mean that energy is not flowing in the body, that there is a stagnation, as wood ensures smooth flow of Qi. Shaking is a great way to get energy moving in the body that has become stuck. Liver meditation: Bring your full attention to energizing your liver in your meditation.

  5. Bringing awareness to the jaw and invite relaxation: Wood is associated with action of tension and relaxation and when we relax our jaw and face muscles we tend to be able to relax the whole body .... especially tension in hips, neck and shoulders, which are all connected to imbalance of wood.

Inviting wood energy into our practice can bring us clarity and give us the necessary courage to make the kinds of wise decisions that allow us to bring our dreams into bloom . It can help us to embrace changes and the seasons of our life, as we let go of the winter and invite in the spring… and allow life and change to flow through us.

Practice with me on YouTube:

  • ‘Spring Equinox: Wood Element Flow’- available for the month of April

Practice with me on my Patreon Platform:

  • ‘Spring Equinox: Wood Element Flow’

  • Yang to Yin: Wood Element

  • Bloom into Spring Vinyasa Flow

  • Detox Flow

You can sign up to Patreon Platform here:

Wishing you all a beautiful bloom into spring,

Namaste lovelies ॐ

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