This article was recently published by OM Yoga & Lifestyle Magazine. To view on their website click here.
Do you remember back in June I talked about the boss energy of summer?
How that authority energy can sometimes take over and throughout this time we slip out of our routines? Practices and rituals fall by the wayside and this can, for some, feel a little unsettling. We may feel we are living more in our heads as the heat rises and the outdoor socializing and holidays disrupt the day to day?
Which is why this period of late-summer is a great time to reconnect to routines and established ways of self-care. A period within we can slow down, nurture ourselves and take a deeper look at how we care for ourselves.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) this period of late summer where the seasons are changing is connected to the element of EARTH. The element of Earth is the mother element - providing us with sustenance, support and stability. Working with this element at this time of year is a really wonderful way to ground your energy system after the heat of the summer fire.
There are two meridian lines that connect to this element. Spleen, the precious Yin line, and Stomach, its Yang partner. Both spleen and stomach are two of our primary organs of digestion. The spleen extracts the essence from the food we eat, transforms it into Qi and transports that Qi around our bodies. The stomach receives and ripens the Qi so we can use it for our purpose. The stomach is often seen as a cauldron of intention. What fruits of intention can you see ripening in these late-summer suns? And which of those fruits do you want to pick in the autumn harvest in a few months time?
So how do we work with the earth element? Well, in our yoga practice we can work with poses that stimulate the spleen and stomach meridian lines using asana, self-massage techniques or acupressure.
The Spleen line runs from the big toe nail, inside your foot, behind your shin, up the medial quad, through the groin… it falls off the stomach and ends in the armpit.
The stomach line runs from the second toe on it’s lateral corner, up the tibialis anterior on the front of the leg, through the lateral quad, then rectus abdominis (medial to the spleen), through the nipple, through the SCM in the neck, final through the masseter before ending in the eye.
My favorite yoga poses to target the spleen and stomach lines are listed below - you could place them into this short sequence if it takes your fancy…
ACTIVE LUNGES - what I mean by that is coming into a low lunge and then pulsing so you are activating those inner thigh muscles.
BIG TOE POSE - you could also try ‘floint’ing the toes in this pose to get a little bit of extra stimulation through the front of the leg.
FROG - this is a challenging pose for most people so you can always prop your trunk on a bolster or some folded blankets to make it more supportive.
SPHINX - if you are someone who has lower back pain or constriction in your sacral-lumbar arch you can take this pose down a level by just moving your elbows further forward in front of your shoulders… you will still be able to target the spleen meridian like this.
WIDE CHILD - if getting your bottom to your heels is tricky in a child pose then take a folded blanket and wedge it under the back of your thighs for more support.
HERO - this is another tricky posture, if you really struggle with this one take it on your side instead just making sure you keep scooping your tail towards the backs of your knees
I am also a big fan of myo-fascial release and some good areas to target with a MFR ball are:
the masseter, rectus femoris or rectus abdominis.
Moving away from yoga per-se there are many other rituals that can help to support the earth element in your day to day. How about adding in an evening salt foot bath to your routine? Or switch up your diet, earth element responds to cooked root vegetables, foods that are orange and yellow, grains (but not too many!). Try also to cut down your diary intake.
As we move from the height and the heat of summer into this period of late-summer sun, encourage yourself to slow down. See if you can find space a few times a week to sit. Close your eyes and shine a light onto your interior space. Move from the outside of your body with your awareness into the marrow of your bones. When we move from the space inside ourselves we stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system. This part of our nervous system is our place of ‘rest and digest’. It is a place where our bodies' organs can function in the way they are meant to. It is a very conscious place. Note, consciousness is very intentional and when we move into this interior space we can begin to feel into consciousness. When we move into feeling consciousness we can begin to co-participate with it. When we know we are co-participating with consciousness we are intentionally caring for ourselves so we can live from a truly authentic place.