As the sun starts to set faster and fold into cooler nights, we begin to see the trees, once working hard to acquire energy from the sun, release and let go of their leaves. Autumn is definitely a time for taking in and letting go.
So too is our internal nature. We may find ourselves appreciating our hard efforts and passionate pursuits, even enjoying the fruits of our labor, as we move towards more of a harvesting time of year.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient practice that supports health and wellness, and believes in harmony between the opposing complementary forces of yin and yang. TCM also believes that the human body is a microcosm of the expansive universe around us. The five elements that appear in nature (fire, earth, wood, metal and water) also appear within us and represent all manners of life and explain the function of the body and how it changes during dis-ease. In TCM, disease is a result of an imbalance between yin and yang, and fluctuation of energy within the five elements. This vital energy that flows through the body is known as qi (CHI) and performs multiple functions in the body and helps maintain health.
Each season corresponds with an element, just as we have different seasons in our own lives. This time of year is defined by the metal element and the meridians of lung and large intestine. This is a time to literally draw in a breath of fresh air — called “grasping the qi of the heavens” — and find inspiration in our daily living, create healthy boundaries and firm schedules for meet our need for routine and ritual.
When the energy movement through the meridians of the lung and large intestine is imbalanced, we might be especially rigid or stuck to a particular way of doing things. We might be socially cut off or extremely judgmental of others and their decisions. And you might be seen as a perfectionist or a rather dogmatic individual. Of course, there is the extreme imbalance — where one is sloppy with their work and places very little value in their work. We might find ourselves sick often, struggling with upper respiratory issues, allergies and just an overall poor immune system.
Here are seven ways to improve the energy in your metal element using yoga asana and other practices:
1.) Breath work: Laying on your back, place your right hand on your belly and your left hand on your chest. Breathe into your belly, feeling the right hand rise and then spilling over into the left hand. Exhale from the left hand and then the right hand at the belly. If you are used to another way, do what feels comfortable and be consistent. Breathe for 2-4 minutes.
2.) Supine pec roll: using a yoga blanket, roll your blanket long ways and then lay over the blanket, matching your spine over the yoga blanket. You can use a second blanket at the neck to support your cervical spine. Allow your arms to open out to cactus arms even overhead holding your elbows. Relax for 5 minutes.
3.) Cat pulling its tail: Lay on your right side. Scissor your legs with your left leg forward and your right leg back. Sweep open your left arm and reach back and grab your bent right leg around the ankle. If available, grab your left foot with your right hand. Slowly lower your left shoulder to the mat. Hold for 2-4 minutes. Switch sides.
4.) Reverse tabletop: Sitting upright, place your hands behind you and plant your feet hip distance apart, knees bent. Push through the hands and puff the chest, bringing the shoulder blades onto the back. Gently lift the hips into the letter “M” or higher into a reverse tabletop. Hold for 5-7 breaths.
5.) Supine gomukhasana arms: Lying on your back, take your right hand behind your head, holding the nape of the neck or even placing your hand palm up between the shoulder blades. Roll to your right, tucking the left arm behind you at the lower back or as high as the shoulder blades, palm facing down. Feel free to bind if it is comfortable. Roll back to your back and relax over your hands. Relax for 2 minutes. Repeat on the other side.
6.) Contemplate something bigger than yourself: Get outside and seek inspiration from the natural world. Balance your daily routine of the mundane with some moments of walking in nature appreciating the bigger picture.
7.) R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Respect YOURSELF! Let go of your imperfections, let go of the things that no longer serve you, and focus on a life without regrets or complaints. This will require working to accept fear and vulnerability. Be bold, be brave! People with integrity live with curiosity and courage over comfort and complacency. Create a mantra or positive affirmation and practice reading it in the mirror daily.
These are just a few steps to help you balance your qi this fall, to see your own fantastic value, and to encourage you to hold on to the things you need and let go of the rest.
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About the Author
Megan Kearney (200 ERYT + YACEP) is a mom to three, SUP yoga teacher and studio owner outside of Atlanta. She is a lover of good music, books, food and cartwheels. With a combined degree in Kinesiology and certification in Thai massage, she works with clients of all backgrounds to address injury, re-establish ease and function in the body, and build daily meditation practices. Her favorite mantra is “Everything is unfolding as it should.” You can find her on Instagram @megankearney or @goebbflow and also at megankearneymovement.com.