My Stomach and Spleen is what? – Earth element
You´ve probably heard of Indian summer, or late Summer. The time before fall arrives. In Chinese medicine, this is a season all on its own. The fifth season. The month of September. A time of shift…
As mentioned in the blog post series “SUP yoga life, a Chinese medicine perspective – part 2”, seasons have specific rhythms and each season represent parts of our bodies. This is tied to natures seasons and cycles, corresponding to the 5 element/phases.
In the Chinese medicine theories and philosophy – there is an extra season. Late summer. This season begins in late august (through autumn equinox) and belongs to the Earth element – connected to harvest season.
This fifth season provides amazing opportunities to nourish ourselves. Earth is in a point of stillness, and nature is starting to slow down. Earth is preparing to make a transition from yang to yin. We´ve gone through the wood season during spring with a start of the yang energies – into summer and the peak of yang – and now it’s time to prepare ourselves for the beginning of the yin season. The inward, cooling season.
Stomach and Spleen
Late summer – Earth – is connected to our Stomach and Spleen. The related emotions are worry and over-thinking.
Season Late summer
Spiritual Transition, harvest, inquiry, clarity
Organs Stomach, Spleen
Meridians Front of our bodies, lateral part of thighs
The Spleen in Chinese medicine is paired with the Stomach. Both are our bodies main organs for digestion. The thing is though, they not only digest food, but but also stimulus and information, everything that comes into our bodies – through our sense organs.
According to Chinese medicine, we live in a “Spleen deficient society”. We are constantly taking in information, from our iPhones, social media, tv etc. We are online people who take in information all the time, and that information has to be processed – by the Spleen! We never do one thing at a time, and you know what – that overloads the Spleen. And we´re getting belly issues. We need to take that burden of our Spleen, and Stomach.
How to act during this season
This time of transition is awesome for relaxation. Yeah, we´ve just left summer with vacation times. But really, if you look at nature you can see that we´re entering a still season. If you study nature, you´ll notice the transition.
Earth is, according to Chinese medicine, connected to the Mother. This means this season and the Earth element is connected to a sense of self-worth, trust, home and grounding. If this element is not balanced, we might experience lack of focus and concentration.
So, how does nature behaves during late summer? Go out and look. Grab you paddle board, and go out and study the water, wind, trees and everything around you. Can you see how nature is starting to prepare for rest? Can you feel how nature is letting go?
September stand up paddling
During this time of the year, in many countries it´s amazing to see the stillness and feel the letting go part from nature. I love to paddle during early mornings this time of the year. The water is often still, and I can sense how nature is shifting from the yang of summer, to prepare for the yin of fall and winter. Without even thinking about it, I often slow down and paddle with ease and peace. I paddle in a restful way, choosing a spot to stay for meditation. Making sure I´m not too cold, I wear my two-part Roxy wetsuit – which keeps me perfectly warm to paddle slow and meditate.
From worry to letting go
The main emotion for late summer is over-thinking/worry. Working on stretching our front bodies and inner parts of our legs can help us tap into this emotion, potentially letting it go. I love stretching my front body on my SUP board during September, using the energy of the season to let go of the summer, creating some clarity for what´s ahead of me.
Yoga poses for the season
During your practice – try and target your spleen and stomach meridians, i.e. the front of your body as well as your inner thighs (adductors). The calming effects of yin yoga is amazing, where you´ll also target your fascia (where your meridians flow) to help regulate the chi in your body.
On my board I often do some slow movements first so I don´t get too cold, and then ease into some nourishing yin poses. If it´s too cold to relax on the board, I paddle – and then take my yin practice indoors after my paddle session.
Good yoga poses to quiet the mind and support the digestion is Child´s pose, Saddle pose, Butterfly pose, Dragonfly pose, Twisted roots, Sleeping swan and Savasana. These poses will target the inner thighs, hips, front body as well as twist to help support digestion.
If our Earth element is out of balance in our bodies, we might not be able to stop worrying, dealing a lot with anxiety. The stomach rebels and become weak. Excessive worry will also harm the spleen and its task to transform nutrients. The result – fatigue.