Ignite your fire in a summer yin practise

Ignite your fire in a summer yin practise

Written by Sophie Nusselder

Midsummer Summer Solstice in Chinese calendar is on June 21st. So…Today!

This summer season, is the most yang time of the year and is filled with abundant energy, long days and sunshine. In Chinese medicine the element of summer is fire, which allows us to expand and give and receive warmth, to grow, be active and creative.

This blog is build up in 2 parts.

Part 1: Chinese element theory, the fire element and it’s functional organs.

Part 2: A Yin practise to activate the fire element

Today you can read part 1.

Chinese element theory

Five Elements Theory is a Chinese philosophy used to describe interactions and relationships between things. The five elements — wood, fire, earth, metal, and water — are believed to be the fundamental elements of everything in the universe between which interactions occur.

Five Elements Theory first appeared during the Spring and Autumn Period (770–476 BC). It became widespread: mostly used in Chinese medicine, philosophy, fengshui, fortune-telling, and martial arts.

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So: how does it work exactly?

Each element has its own characteristics and associations with different aspect of nature, such as direction, season, color, shape, and so on.

The generating interactions of the five elements are often explained like the conception, gestation, birth, and nurture relationship between a mother and a baby. Such element pairs are deeply attached, and together imply success and luck.

The five generating interactions are fueling, forming, containing, carrying, and feeding:

  • Wood fuels fire.
  • Fire forms earth (volcanoes, ash, etc.).
  • Earth contains metal.
  • Metal carries water (buckets, pipes, etc.).
  • Water feeds wood (trees, plants, etc.).

The overcoming interactions of the five elements are like the acts of hostility between two sides in a war.

The five overcoming interactions are melting, penetrating, separating, absorbing, and quenching:

  • Fire melts metal
  • Metal penetrates wood (chopping, sawing, drilling, nailing, screwing).
  • Wood separates earth (tree roots breaking up soil/rock).
  • Earth absorbs water.
  • Water quenches fire.

Functional organs

In Chinese five-element theory is the element “fire” associated with the organs and meridians Heart and Small intestine but also Pericardium and Triple Heater.

The Heart and Small Intestine

The Heart is the ruler or king of all the yin Organs. The Heart controls the blood circulation, your mental activities and emotions. In Chinese the word for “Heart” is also used to indicate “ Mind”. So in their view it is not the brain, which controls thoughts. The brain is simply seen as the place where thoughts are received and stored; the energy of the Heart controls these thoughts. Your mental health and your ability to think are directly related to the strength in your Heart.

Physiologically the Heart controls the circulation and distribution of blood; therefore all the other organs depend upon it for sustenance. Thoughts and emotions influence the functions of various organs via pulse and blood pressure, which are controlled by the Heart. It is in the Heart where emotions arise, they can be controlled when the Heart is strong and steady. But when the Heart is weak and wavering, the emotions rebel and prey upon the “ Heart-Mind” which then loses it’s commends over your body. Extreme emotions such as grief and anger have an immediate suppressive effect on the immune system. Facial complexion, which is direct reflection of blood circulation, is also a major external indicator of the Heart function.

Although physically the Heart and small intestine aren’t connected, they share the same characteristic energy. Both choose what is important to or what may be discarded from our body and mind. If this process is unbalanced, there might occur an excess of the element “ fire” in the system and can cause digestion problems (diarrhea or constipation), heart disease, loss of speech, chronic sadness etc.

Pericardium and Triple Heater

Known as the “King’s Bodyguard” the Pericardium is the Heart protective sack. Although it is not recognised as an organ in Western physiology, it is regarded in Chinese medicine as a Fire-energy Organ whose special function is to protect the Heart. Not only does the pericardium provide the Heart with physical protection, it’s energy also protects the Heart from damage and disruption by excessive emotional energies generated by other Organs, such as anger from the Liver, Fear from the Kidneys and Grief from the Lungs.

The Triple Heater is not a single contained Organ, but rather a functional energy system involved in regulating the activities of other Organs. It is imposed in three parts, known as “burners” or “heaters”, each associated with one of the body’s three main cavities: thoracic, abdominal, and pelvic.

There are many different views of what the Triple Heater is exactly and what it does. An ancient Chinese medical text states: The upper heater controls intake, the middle heater controls transformation and the lower heater controls elimination.

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Smile from your heart

The next time you bring your hands to ‘Namaste’ in front of your Heart, acknowledge that divine spark that exists in all beings and practice dedicating the merits of your practice to the well being of others. Let’s build our own fire, give and share and bring more summer sun to the world!

Ps: I am a native Dutch speaker; so forgive me for any languages mistakes. I love learning, so teach me. Feedback is welcome: sophie@mulayoga.nl

*** Peace, love & freedom hugs – Sophie -***




Books: Inside Yoga – Sarah Powers / The complete guide to yin yoga – Bernie Clark

Picture 1: http://www.chinahighlights.com / Picture 2: http://www.boukjekassenaar.nl

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