• Bren

Wood Element and Yin Yoga

Hi all. This is a topic that goes so deep and wide that I'm not sure how to start.

I'll cover a couple basics to begin:

  1. Yin-style yoga is a branch of yoga developed to use the systems of Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM). TCM is a different system than Ayurveda (or Traditional Indian Medicine - which is what Hatha Yoga is based on.) Both are ancient, holistic models that developed adjacent to each other.

  2. In TCM, there are 5 elements. And yes, these are a different 5 elements than those that are used in Hatha Yoga/Ayurvedic medicine.

  3. The 5 Elements of Yin Yoga and TCM are Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal.

  4. These 5 Elements relate to the 5 Seasons recognized in TCM: Winter, Spring, Summer, Harvest, and Autumn.

Phew. Okay. Stay with me.

In my Yin Yoga classes lately we have been focusing a lot on Wood Element, because it relates to Spring, which has been happening here in BC, Canada for a couple weeks now.

Wood Element is represented by outward expansion, growth, the colour green, and the organ pair Liver & Gall Bladder (among many many other attributes).

This transition from Winter to Spring can be a tough one. We move from inaction to action, and this energy can feel quite jarring.

To smooth this out, we might use the practice of Yin Yoga.


In a Yin Yoga practice focused on Wood Element, we would focus on poses that stimulate the Liver and Gall Bladder meridian lines.

You can think of a meridian as an energy highway. Energy, or Qi, flows through the length of one meridian and into the next, circulating around the entire body.

Sometimes there is an energetic blockage in a meridian, something that is stopping or slowing the flow of energy. This is uncomfortable, and often will present as one or more symptoms.

Symptoms of impeded energy flow through the Wood Element meridians (Liver & Gall Bladder) are impatience, short temper, urgency, headache, or insomnia.

You might notice one or all of these symptoms in yourself, your partner, or the public in general on the weeks leading up to springtime in your area.

Please note here that when I say springtime I mean tree buds, green grass, warmer temperatures, rain...the SIGNS of spring, not the equinox date on the calendar. I felt this energy the most, personally, in late February and early March of this year, 2022, in Southern BC, Canada.


Treatment Using Yin Yoga

Twists, side-bends, and hip-openers are your friend during this time.

The Liver Meridian starts at the top of the big toe, travels along the top of the foot, up the shin, up the inner thigh, circles the genitals, crosses the abdomen, runs up the side of the chest, side of the neck, and terminates at the eye.

The Gall Bladder Meridian starts at the eye, zig-zags around the side of the head, side of the neck, zig-zags across the side of the torso, runs along the outer hip, outer leg, and terminates at the top of the fourth toe.

The Gall Bladder Meridian

A few especially good Yin poses for these two meridians are:

  1. Frog Pose (or Tadpole)

  2. Banana Pose

  3. Shoelace + Twist

  4. Butterfly or Dragonfly + Forward Fold

Frog Pose Variations

Banana Pose

Shoelace Pose

Butterfly Pose

All pictures used in today's blog are sourced from Bernie Clark's book The Complete Guide To Yin Yoga, an excellent resource for someone interested in learning more about this topic.

More to come next week and throughout April on attuning to Spring.

Send me any questions you may have in the comments here or over on Instagram @practicewithbren

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