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Transition from Fire to Earth

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

There's something truly wonderful about living in a country with seasons. Each transition, despite coming round every year, is unique and will never appear in quite the same way again.

Chinese Medicine has 5 seasons, the fifth of which is Late Summer. The fire has burnt itself out and the yang begins to decline. You may notice sun's angle begins to drop and the light is softer, more golden. The air feels cooler at times, though still able to flush hot and it's hard to decide whether to take an extra layer or suncream. We've experienced a persistent flare of heat in this year's Fire season and we may have a rocky ride settling into a state of yin yang balance.

The season of Late Summer is linked to the Earth Element. It is a time of harvest, following the last moon of Summer, so named the Harvest Moon (rising in the evening of Friday 9th Sept). The qualities of softening, nurturing and nourishing align naturally to this time of year, a period a balance and harmony. The sense of taste is also associated with the Earth element; just as a newborn baby's first taste is often their mothers' milk, this sweetness is associated to the smell or flavour of the Earth element.

The colour yellow is associated with the Earth Element, so fill your shopping basket with lemons, bananas, turmeric, yellow peppers, corn, pumpkins, apricots and butternut squash. You might choose to wear yellow clothes. Connecting to the season's colours, energy and abundant food is great for your health and harmony. I'm making beetroot brownies and butternut soup this week with veggie gifts from my friend's allotment!

In Five Element diagnosis, a yellow colour in the face can indicate an imbalance in the Spleen and Stomach, the organs of Earth. These are the primary organs of digestion. The spleen is part of the lymphatic system and includes the tonsils and thymus gland. It is closely related to the circulatory and immune systems. That's good timing, as there is a rising dampness in Late Summer and we are exposed to more cold viruses.

In Chinese Medicine, the Spleen assists the Stomach in the transformation and transportation of food essences. It is also responsible for the movements of Qi and Fluids. When the Spleen Qi is strong, there is good appetite, digestion and elimination. When Spleen Qi is weak, the movement of Qi to our muscles is impaired and there can be tiredness and heaviness in the limbs. Spleen Qi Deficiency is the most common pattern, based on TCM, encountered in Western acupuncture clinics. It can show up on the tongue, as teeth marks around the edges. In addition to muscles, the connective tissue called fascia is associated with the Earth Element. Fascia creates a completely integrated system within the body; a physical manifestation of Earth's gift of Connection.

I am feeling a seasonal push to connect with my friends as the season changes. I'm aware that we have a window of connection in fresh air before we have to retreat indoors. Many Earth types naturally become a central point of connection, often acting as go-betweens or social secs.

Seasonal yoga is themed around qualities of the Element of the season or the meridian lines associated with the two (or four) organs in season. To activate the Earth meridians, you might enjoy standing poses, wide childs pose, hero, frog, sphinx, cobra, up dog, low lunge and crescent. A Late Summer practice means a stabilising, intentional, grounding practice with downward energy, or perhaps a focus on nourishing, gratitude and connection. Qigong practices also focus on seasonal meridians and intentions, which use the mind to direct the flow of qi. The titles are wonderful, for example, "Wise Owl Turns Its Head To Eliminate Fatigue", which uses rotation to create hydration through the neck joints and mitigates the effects of chronic tightness and tension in the neck and shoulders. It may also help us to reduce the feeling of bearing the weight of the world on our shoulders.

Strala Yoga is rooted in Chinese Medicine; I like to bring in other forms of movement such as qigong and tai chi to our weekly seasonal yoga class. If you'd like to connect more deeply with the seasons and join our yoga community, we'd love to see you. I can guide you towards a class that best fits your needs.

Nicky is a certified Chinese Medicine Practitioner and therapeutic yoga teacher, who loves to guide people towards optimal health and happiness.

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