In Traditional Chinese Medicine (“TCM”) the summer season is governed by the Fire element, making it an easy one to remember as we associate the heat from the sun during this time of the year.
I try to bring concepts from each of the elements in TCM into my classes throughout the seasons. For my students , I thought it would be useful to expand on what the five elements are and what you can expect from the Fire element on and off the mat as we begin the summer season.
From a yoga practice perspective, we use postures to apply pressure or to stretch our muscles or tissues around these energy lines in an attempt to move stagnant energy or to increase circulation through the meridians but with no needles involved!
Summer is a time when we feel the expansive and radiant energy from the sun beaming down on earth for longer. The fire element is strongest during the summer season and it is also the height of yang. Yang representing light and warmth.
Fire is important for our joy and our ability to be passionate and optimistic in life. It gives meaning to our relationships with others and allows us to express ourselves fully.
The fire element, unlike the other elements, has four main organs associated with it: the heart (yin), small intestines (yang), pericardium (yin) and triple heater (yang). The heart is the most important of the four organs.
As the principal organ for the Fire element, the Heart stores our spirit (or our Shen) and is responsible for housing our thoughts in our mind. Effectively, the Heart is the centre of our emotional and mental activity.
When the Heart meridian is in balance we are optimistic and enthusiastic about the future, and we have a strong ability to connect our actions to our heart. We have compassion for those around us and are comfortable with being vulnerable, allowing our authentic self to show up in the world. We are creative and able to be expressive, creating depth in our relationships.
When the Heart meridian is out of balance we may lack depth in our relationships and interactions with others. We may be impatient or uninspired and have a strong reluctance to letting down our guard. The physical issues we tend to see with a Heart meridian imbalance include short-term memory problems, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, insomnia and anxiety.
To bring the Heart meridian in balance from a yoga perspective, we focus on the upper body and in particular our arms, armpits and shoulders, as this is where the energy lines run. Some great poses to help bring this into balance include: Eagle arms, Puppy or Heart Melting pose, Backbends and Wrist exercises
Looking forward to seeing you on the mat over the summer as we practice moving the energy of the fire element in our bodies.
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