Nature’s rhythms: Today’s spring equinox and the traditional 5 elements.
“Beneath the light, the river and hills are beautiful,
The spring breeze bears the fragrance of flowers and grass.
The mud has thawed, and swallows fly around.
On the warm sand, mandarin ducks are sleeping.”
-Du Fu (Classical Chinese Poet of the Tang Dynasty 712–770 AD)
Spring has sprung, as they say, and today’s equinox is officially the first day of Spring, in the northern hemisphere, and the end of winter. Chinese medicine draws its wisdom from the natural world, so the ancient Taoist doctors regarded the transition from winter to spring as an important time of renewal, not just in nature, but also in our bodies.
The element associated with the spring is the wood element, which is known for its strength and flexibility and is linked with the color green. The wood element represents growth and I’m reminded of this when I see the little green shoots appearing all over my garden. Like the new plants pushing through the earth, the energy of the wood element is strident and forceful. In human beings this energy can be frustrated when unbalanced, but when channeled properly it’s also associated with altruism and helping others. The direction of the wood element is east and so, appropriately, at the spring equinox the sun rises directly in the east. When it comes to weather the wood element is associated with the wind which reflects the movement and change of the season and the ability to burst through and overcome obstacles.
From a spiritual perspective the wood element is said to house the “hun” which is the part of the spirit that goes on after we die. For me the “hun” represents the wood element’s ability to transform life into it’s next stage and so I use this time to reflect on where I’m going and what aspects of my current life I’m choosing the leave behind. The emotion associated with the wood element is anger which can cause stagnation and a pent-up feeling, but anger expressed healthily can be the impetus for transformation and change. This purposefulness is why the the wood element has a reputation for being able to get things done and, after the hibernation of winter, it feels energetically appropriate to do more and reach further during the spring.
The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine (an ancient Chinese medical text) advocated cleansing the body during the spring and here at the YinOva Center many of our staff and patients choose this season to follow a gentle and supportive cleanse together. You can read about past YinOva Cleanses here. The liver and gall bladder are the organs associated with the wood element and supporting these organs of detoxification in the spring can help them work better. Many of us suffer from sludgy, sluggish livers and the spring is a great time to gently cleanse and detoxify them.
So let’s celebrate the spring equinox together by embracing the wood element and it’s values. Here are some ideas of ways you can mark this transition.
- Let go! Leave behind any resentments or frustrations and make a plan to start anew.
- Make some noise! Anger is the emotion of the wood element and when channelled appropriately can be a force for change and transformation
- Grow! Plant some seeds to feel connected to nature’s cycles. Check out this YinOva Blog article about how to grow a vegetable garden from seed.
- Choose! Make a plan and begin it. The wood element has strong creative energy so paths chosen at this time are more likely to manifest.
- Drop a bad habit (or two)! Make some dietary changes to support your liver, the wood element’s organ. After the heavy foods of winter start to eat more leafy green vegetables and drink less coffee and alcohol.
- Cleanse! Join us at the YinOva Center as we all cleanse together. More info will be available on this soon.
- Stretch! The ligaments and tendons are said to be the tissue of the wood element and now’s the time to emerge from your winter cocoon and exercise them. Feel free to book a Pilates appointment with Sarah if you would like our support.
- Heal! An acupuncture treatment is a great way of moving stagnation both physically and emotionally, so come on in and let the YinOva Team take care of you as you start a new healing regimen, detox or work on a new plan.
- Get up! It’s time to get off the sofa and move, make changes and get out and about.
- Give! Channel the energy of spring outwards and help give someone else a fresh start. Join our team on KIva and make micro loans to people in developing countries.
- Have fun! In past seasons, we have wood-element-themed spring macarons in our center. Made for us exclusively by Bisou Ciao, our YinOva macarons are dairy and gluten-free and contain spirulina, mint and citrus all of which are used in Chinese medicine to benefit the liver. So go ahead…..have some fun and allow yourself a healthy (ish) treat.
On behalf of all of us here at the YinOva Center, we wish you a very happy, productive and healthy spring.
May you use the strength and flexibility of the wood element to create your dreams.