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Seasonal Yoga for the Five Elements

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Joined: 23 Oct 2011
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:52 pm    Post subject: Seasonal Yoga for the Five Elements Reply with quote


I am putting together a quarterly series keyed off of the seasonal shifts as they relate to the Five Elements, although in this case I'll only be doing four elements for our four seasons in my part of North America.

I was all set to go, writing up my fliers when something struck me: I might be approaching this backwards. I was thinking about offering poses for the meridians that relate to the Element/Season, but now I"m thinking I should do the complementary element's lines instead.

As an example, in the Fall the element is Metal which relates to the Lung/Large Intestines. I was going to lead poses for those lines. However, if Metal (air) is the dominant element, perhaps to truly balance it, I should work on the "controlling" element instead, in this case the meridians related to the fire element. Or, maybe the "over-acting" element, in this case "Earth" and it's related meridians.

Maybe I'm over-thinking this. Would love some insight as I'm fairly new to this aspect of Yin practice. I'm only slightly more familiar with the Thai medicine system, which would seek to balance out the dominant element by elevating it's opposite.

I guess a simpler version of my question is: are the meridians associated with each Season/element considered "blocked?"

Thanks everyone for your insight!
Jen (in Virginia)
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Joined: 01 Aug 2008
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:22 am    Post subject: 5 Element Yin Yoga Reply with quote

Hello Jen,

I teach Yin Yoga and I am a practicing acupuncturist and I LOVE combining these 2 modalities together as they compliment each other very well. I have been teaching 5 element Yin yoga for a few years and like you I schedule the workshops around the seasons.

Your questions is quite sophisticated and can get complicated when working from the control/generating cycle. In fact there are 4 cycles (generating, controlling, over acting and insulting. When our system is in balance the elements support, generate and keep everything running smoothly.

Let's take your example of the Metal element as it relates to the season of Fall. In theory this is the season where the Lungs (as they pertain to TCM) are at their prime and the attributes to the Metal element are at its peak. If there is an imbalance maybe in the upper respiratory system (asthma, catching colds) or someone has a hard time 'letting go' it can be coming from a number of places - the generating cycle (Earth), controlling cycle (Fire), over acting cycle (Earth) or insulting cycle (Wood).

What I have noticed in my own teaching journey is that sometimes less is more. I tried getting too complicated about theory and it just confused people. What I like to do now is explore various ways we can keep our organ system healthy and strong throughout the year. We focus on the meridian and organ system that pertain to a particular season and explore various postures, exercises, breath work and self care routines they can practice throughout the season to keep their system strong and healthy. Adding too many other elements might be too much but that is just my opinion.

In a long winded way of answering your question the meridians are associated with each season but whether they were out of balance or not would depend on the individual person.

I really hope that helps and I haven't confused you even more.

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

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Joined: 23 Oct 2011
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Cathy,

Thank you for replying to my message. I realize now that I didn't have it set to notify me when someone replies. I checked for awhile, and then moved on to other things.

I went with my own instinct and decided to keep it simple (as you suggest) - will do lung/large intestine postures for Autumn. Smile I have since taken the training with Sarah Powers and have started reading more about Taosim and TCM, and I can see now that this is a loose framework anyway.

I like this topic as a fresh way (for us anyway) of talking about tuning in to natural processes, and just taking a bit of extra care to adjust as seasons (and priorities) change.

My first class, for Autumn actually, is Friday.

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Joined: 22 Feb 2013
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Location: Cambridge, Ontario

PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:56 am    Post subject: where can I find ifo about how the 5 elements relate to yin Reply with quote

Hi, I've been teaching yin for 2 years and have mainly worked with the meridians. The concept of the 5 elements and the meridians and organs are a new to me. Could you offer any suggestions on resources where I could draw upon? I also teach yang flow yoga and incorporate the elements into my flow classes and would really enjoy adding the elements and the seasons into my yin classes as well.
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Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1130
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 2:00 am    Post subject: 5 Element Theory Reply with quote

You may want to read the articles that Cathy Keenan wrote on The Five Elements - just scroll to the bottom of the page. That's a good starting point.

The other great place to go to is Paulie Zink: his Daoist Yoga includes a great deal of work with the 5 Elements, including both yin and yang asanas.

Finally, a great beginner book on Daoist Medicine is The Web That Has No Weaver by Ted Kaptchuk.

Hope this helps.
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