BALANCING THE WATER ELEMENT IN YIN YOGA
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) everything in nature, including ourselves and our body, contains different elements which can be understood as “forces”. In order to explain what our bodies and minds it associates the organs/systems with an element.
One of the elements is WATER, which represent Kidney and Bladder organs.
I invite you to reflect for a few seconds…What are the images, sensations that come to you when you think about water?
Water is the most essential element of life. When there is no water and something becomes dry it dies. We observe it in our own nature as when we grow old we lose water and wrinkles appear. We are a very high percentage of water.
The nature of Water is gentle and flowing, yet water is powerful enough (think of the oceans that can create big waves and tsunamis), so there is definitely so much strength in water.
The wisdom of water is to flow. Water moves effortlessly and takes the exact form of whatever contains it.
The kidney and urinary bladder are the organs related to the water element as both play a role in fluid regulation.
Kidney and Bladder meridians are located at front of the body (kidney) and back of the body (bladder). The kidneys are our yin Water organ and urinary bladder our yang Water organ.
The bladder meridian starts in the eye, goes over the head and then down the side of the spine and back of the legs to end on the little toe. Forward bends, like uttanasana or paschimottanasana (or Dangle pose and Caterpillar pose in the yin style) are excellent postures to stretch our bladder meridian.
The Kidney meridian starts on the sole of the foot, goes up the posterior inner leg and then close to the midline up the front of the body ending below the collarbone.
TCM also uses seasons to explain the key characteristics and forces associated with organs and meridians. Winter is the full expression of yin, a colder and darker season with less expression of life and nature. In this period the seeds rest dormant waiting to burst in spring. The winter/water energy is latent but potent.
Winter is a time to slow down, to go inwards and to gather energy, strength for the expanding season that will come.
Winter time and Water element are needed for us to be able to move smoothly.
When our water element is balanced, we are able to move smoothly in life with strength, courage, and willpower. There’s a sense of flow and ease, and alignment to one’s purpose or destiny.
When our Water Chi is strong life flows easily; we are creative, we trust our instinct, have strong willpower, strength and courage yet calm and gentle.
However, when imbalanced, we can start to feel tired, which results in a weak willpower. Other symptoms of water element deficiency are feeling fearful or withdrawn.
At a physical level, an imbalance of this element manifests with diseases related to reproduction, growth/development of the body and degeneration diseases. In particular anything related to bones, joints, teeth and ears. Urinary problems, infertility, low libido, ringing ears, osteoporosis and weakening of bones, teeth, knees, back pain, grey hair"
Now, what can we do to balance this element?
It is important to connect with the energy of “winter time”, find time to rest and to go inwards to recover and accumulate energy. Time to find clarity on our goals, dreams and life purpose and identify the seeds we need to plant today to see the results we want. Journaling can be a good practice during this time. We need to allow time to rest & prepare ourselves in order to feel courageous, as opposed to feeling fearful.
To support this, we can limit cold and raw foods and prefer warmer, salty, nourishing and hydrating foods of darker colours such as dark berries, root vegetables, legumes, black beans, etc.
If you are experiencing any of these imbalances, at a mental, emotional or physical level I invite you to allow yourself with the force of winter and allow yourself to “hibernate”, rest and recover so you can then flourish in spring and flow smoothly and at easy in your life.
Yin yoga is a style of yoga where we work with the meridians to balance the different elements and organs. In Yin yoga we hold postures for a longer time than in a regular active yoga class. We work on stretches that target the connective tissues instead of targeting the muscles. My favourite part of this style is that allows us to go beyond the physical and tap into the meditative aspect of yoga.
If you are interested on knowing more or want to experience a Yin class to balance this element come to check out my classes in the Northern Beaches in Sydney.
And if you are looking for a good quality and eco friendly yoga mat or yoga towel for your practice, check out my designs HERE! The perfect mat for a yin yoga practice.