SPRING WOOD ELEMENT
Spring is a time for high activity, for emerging from our winter shells and starting to move towards our full potential. One of the most potent ways to develop spring energy is to waken before sunrise. Aim to be outdoors at this time in the morning, walking, jogging, swimming, or practising yoga.
The yogic way of thinking recognises we should act in accordance with our surroundings and this is why we strive to move in a way that supports, and is supported by, our environment. This guiding principle means that our daily rhythms and activities, what we do, what we wear and so, accord with the seasons. Of course, working fixed hours in air-conditioned offices, and feeling pressured by constant demands, including after-hour schedules of exercise and entertainment often alienates us from the world around us.
As we come to know ourselves and to respect our bodies we understand that we should eat what feels right. In a culture that all too often uses food as entertainment and comfort, we may initially need to work hard to alter the patterns of eating we’ve grown up with, however, the benefits of eating appropriately not only support us but also the planet. For example, consuming local and organically-grown produce that’s not over-packaged.
According to the Oriental view of the cosmos everything, including the seasons, are governed or described by what are known as the five elements. These are: fire, water, earth, wood and metal. Spring is governed by wood, which is associated with rising energy.
Each element governs a particular organ system in our body and has both a mental and spiritual aspect. Wood presides over the liver and gall bladder.
Envisage the growth from seed to sapling after the dormancy of winter; this is the time of rejuvenation and going in previously unexplored directions. In yoga classes, we try to capture this pervasive feeling of new beginnings. The healthy expression of wood funnels and controls energy in its upward, expansive movements.
When a person’s wood element is healthy, they will be patient, thoughtful, and organised. They will work effectively, have a strong sense of direction, and feel calm. A lack of balance may be caused in someone leading a sedentary life where things are overly organised and there’s insufficient time made for healthy eating; this is exacerbated by consuming fatty, oily, salty foods. An individual may be frustrated, domineering, irritable, and insensitive. Over time, they may even become depressed. At extreme levels of dysfunction, a person will be angry, full of rage, and may become violent.
Wood governs the joints, so yoga postures at this time focus on twisting, on promoting loosening and flexibility. They create a sense of new possibilities for movement and growth. To maximise the rising, spiralling energy of spring, use freshly-picked, preferably organic vegetables, and bean sprouts, celery, sorrel, rocket, young beets, Dutch carrots, and asparagus. Choose sour condiments, which are light and lift us out of the stillness of winter, such as lemon juice, vinegar, and pressed pickles. Lots of fresh ginger and herbs help to shake our bodies awake. Cooking times are shorter, little salt and oil are used. Less of everything is the general principle. This is the preferred time of year for fasting, a time when what your winter body has been retaining is no longer needed.