My Stomach and Spleen is what? Some self-care during the earth phase.
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…
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 beginning 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 aspects: transition harvest, inquiry, clarity
Organs: Stomach, Spleen
Meridians and target areas for yin yoga: quadriceps, adductors
The Spleen in Chinese medicine is paired with the Stomach. Both are our bodies main organs for digestion. The thing is though, they don’t only digest food, but are very much connected to all kinds of stimulus and information. Kind of everything that comes into our bodies – through our sense organs.
According to Chinese medicine, we (especially in West) 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 seldom do one thing at a time, and that overloads the Spleen, creating different kinds of issues such as digestive problems (hello IBS), bloating, pain, tiredness and worry-ness. We need to take that burden off our Spleen, and Stomach. Really.
I sometimes hear people say they exercise a lot, but it feels like their muscles don’t “respond” when they run, bike etc. They complain over a “heavy” feeling, and sometimes a sense of “stickiness”. This can in many ways be connected to the Spleen, since the Spleen (in Chinese medicine) are all about transforming food and drinks into qi (energy) and blood, that then is transported to the whole body. If the Spleen isn’t working well (read deficiency), then this process is not working well - and our muscles doens’t get the nutrients needed for well muscular support. This can be helped with acupuncture, yin yoga and lifestyle advice.
How to act during the season
This time of transition is awesome for relaxation. We´ve just left summer with vacation times, where we had time for that. 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. And the thing is, we don’t really live according to nature. During summer we have lots of energy to work. During winter we need rest. During the yin period of the year is when we need vacation.
Earth is, according to Chinese medicine, connected to the Mother. Mother Earth. 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 in our bodies, we might experience lack of focus and concentration. And tiredness. Fatigue.
So, how does nature behaves during late summer? Go out and look. 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 preparing to let go? Apples fall off the trees. Nature is about to let go, to prepare for a change.
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 during September, using the energy of the season to let go of the summer, creating some clarity. My running pace is slower, sometimes more of walking than running.
Yin yoga poses for the season
During your yin yoga practice – try and target your spleen and stomach channels (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 target your fascia (where your meridians flow) to help regulate the chi in your body.
Excellent yin yoga poses to quiet the mind and support the digestion is Child´s pose, Saddle pose, Butterfly pose, Dragonfly pose, Twisted roots, Frog, Seiza 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.
Want to learn more?
Yin Yoga teacher training: The five elements, starts at Yogayama in Stockholm, in October. Contact me for more information. Want to book acupuncture treatments to help support your body, mind and soul into this transition, book here.
Also much welcome to my Yin Yoga master classes at Yogayama in Stockholm on Thursdays between 9.30 - 11.30. All welcome.
Also, I recommend Dao labs formula for digestive health now. I drink it every day during this season, to support my digestive health. Get yours here.