Yin Yoga is a practice which encourages a softening or surrendering of activity and an observation of present moment awareness. Integrating the Chinese Five Elements into the practice enriches the paradigm of Yin Yoga as a healing modality, as we are each an embodiment of Earth, Fire, Water, Metal & Wood.
During circumstances of imbalance, we can utilize the wisdom tradition of Yoga Asana to organize the skeleton and relax the musculature in specific ways which awaken and enliven gentle self-inquiry and a lubrication of the connective tissues and pathways for immunity, longevity, and vitality.
In a world that’s ever shifting, may you use this practice to find stillness.
In thought patterns which engender suffering, may this practice allow you to see the unity of all things, from the shifting of the seasons to the suppleness of the spine.
Metal Element & the Lung Meridian: Creating Spaciousness for Transformation
“The metal element governs our ability to take in life, absorb what is good for us and let go of the rest, making space for the new.”
Metal Element. The metal element governs our ability to take in life, absorb what is good for us and let go of the rest, making space for the new. The Lungs support our capacity for transitioning and surrendering for true transformation
Area of body: Outer legs, Ribcage
Meridian Organ: Lungs.
Much of the freedom we experience hinges upon the openness of the lung meridian- easy breathing as the chest rises and falls, spread proud openness across the collarbones, space to move around with the arms and also how much is within arms reach, what type of support can we find if we ask for someone to lend a hand.
Through the lungs, we distribute oxygen to every cell of the body, and remove CO2 from blood to expel it. The lungs are designed to move things through the body: inhales beckon the kinetics of the system to gather back into itself, consolidate. The exhales support a letting go and a clearing out. Resisting change by trying to hold on to something, or clinginess, is tension forming. Tension blocks the flow of energy through the body and the flow of feeling through the psyche.
Full chest breathing stimulates sympathetic nervous system supplying the body with energy for action. Deep, slow abdominal breathing activates para-sympathetic to relax body and mind. Often to suppress emotion we hold breath, tighten the throat, clench jaw and belly-all to prevent feelings from arising.
Season: Fall (in the spirit of letting go & clearing, like leaves falling off a tree, all which is peripheral falls away as the Prana is reserved in this season for the central channel or trunk of the tree. The central trunk organizes its nutrients so that it’s ready to distribute them and flourish in the spring. Autumn is the turning point from the yang of summer, back toward the yin of winter.
Everything begins to slow down, dry up and draw inward. Autumn is the time of release and decay. Trees drop their leaves, flowers wither, and all of the dried up plant byproducts are absorbed by the earth to become minerals and nutrients that will be used for future growth. It is the time for letting go of what is no longer essential, slowing down, drawing awareness inward and storing up what is needed for winter.
Metal element out of balance is blocked from fully expressing oneself. Instead of being proud we have unrealistic unbending rigid expectations of ourselves and others- a perfectionist paradigm. Metal types can have a difficult type discerning what is of value and of service, and what to let go of. Sometimes this is demonstrated in difficulty in letting go of emotional pain and dealing with grief..
Physical symptoms of imbalance: sighing, shallow breathing, respiratory issues. Slumped shoulders (widows hump- the somatic demonstration of grief)
Emotional symptoms hopelessness, pessimism, prolonged grief, isolation, remote distant behavior, inability to let go, hoarding.
A balanced metal element constitution allows the process of grief and letting go of the past in order to gain wisdom. They release attachments and form new bonds without fear of loss.
The key lesson for metal is to let go of seeking and attachment, forgiving oneself and others and releasing the past. Becoming present and grateful for what’s arriving here and now.
Affirmation: I am at peace with impermanence.
Metal Element Yin Yoga
A metal element practice is one to support the lungs in its optimal functioning. As the energetics are a clearing and transformation, releasing the older, we can use twists as a cleansing technique which helps us approach the center line more aptly, arm and heart openers to lengthen and lubricate the metal element meridian and spread wide the ribcage, and side body lengtheners to make more space for the lungs.
Metal element postures can include:
Supine twist (Jatharaparivartanasana)
Cow Pose with Archer arms (Gomukhasana)
Supported Bridge with Cactus arms (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
International yoga teacher Kali Basman enriches the paradigm of Yin Yoga to integrate distinct aspects of Self into an innate wisdom practice to awaken a rich inner life and radiate with ritual. Her offering honors Yin Yoga as a tool to surrender to our intrinsic wholeness. On the textured path of mindful healing, Kali is celebrated for her integration of the 5 Elements and Chinese Meridian Theory with self-inquiry, embodied Anatomy, Buddhist Philosophy of Equanimity, and sharp intellect.
WANT TO PRACTICE WITH KALI? Learn more about her upcoming 5 Element Yin & Restorative Yoga Teacher Trainings.