Last month, my article‘‘Anxiety and Yin Yoga,” focused on the Earth Element and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The next two elements, Water and Metal, are connected to our senses of fear and grief.
Fear is connected to the water element, and since fear is at the root of anxiety, anxious symptoms may suggest that this element is out of balance in the body. For some, this fear may manifest as over-thinking or over-doing, and for others, as a complete lack of will and inspiration. The extreme nature of these shifts often mean that a person with a water imbalance finds themselves constantly tired and facing sleep issues. In long-term cases, some people are diagnosed with chronic fatigue or adrenal fatigue (due to physical pressure on the adrenal glands, diagnosed by TCM practitioner).
According to the TCM meridian channels, both the kidney and urinary bladder channels relate to the element of water in the body, running down the right half off the body, at the front and back, respectively. Yin poses to open and balance the kidney channel involve groin and adductor openers - as it is widely believed that fear (or stress) is stored in these areas at the front of the hips, in the psoas muscles. To address the urinary bladder channel, focus on decompressing the lower back to reduce physical pressure on the adrenal glands.
more from the may publication
Water balancing yin sequence:
While the earth and water elements are connected to fear and anxiety, the metal element is exemplified by the emotion of grief, and when entirely depleted or in excess, can lead to feelings of depression. Day-to-day signs of an out-of-balance metal element are an inability to let go of the past, critical judgment of self and others, weak immune system and poor health (including posture).
The TCM meridian channels connected to this element are those of the lungs and large intestine. Both of these meridians run across the torso, with the lung channel attaching to the diaphragm from the left, and the large intestine channel to the sinuses from the right. Due to the cross of these channels over the respiratory system, pranayama (breathwork) is vital, particularly to activate the ‘rest and digest’ parasympathetic nervous system.
Metal balancing yin sequence:
Balanced Water and Metal Elements:
The balance between these elements encourages peace, presence, motivation, and overall health of the body and mind. Additionally, water is the element of Winter, and metal the element of Autumn, therefore these are great practices to ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that is all too common in the modern world. The aim of these yin yoga sequences is to find balance in the four meridian lines of the water and metal elements of the body. These practises nourish the kidneys and large intestines, while relieving pressure on the adrenal glands and lungs. As a whole, nourishing and opening these spaces allows depleted qi (energy) to flow to these areas of the body, relieving stress and increasing emotional wellbeing.
Yoga works on the body beyond the physical feeling of a deep stretch.