Soften the Heart to Soothe the Fire
I find Traditional Chinese Medicine very interesting, as it makes the connection between the physical body and the emotional body understandable and relatable. There are five Elements - Earth, Water, Wood, Metal and Fire, all of these elements residue inside us all and mimic nature. In Chinese Medicine the elements are associated with the meridians (energy lines), fire is the only element with two pairs of Meridians, the two main organs related to the Fire Element is the Heart (Yin) and the Small Intestines (Yang) then the other two organs associated with the fire element the Pericardium (Heart Protector (Yin) and the Triple Burner (Yang).
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the heart stores our spirit (Shen) and it anchors the mind. It is believed that the heart embraces our spirit and the heart is the place where the spirit returns to rest and disconnect from the outside world. The heart is the centre of our emotional and mental health.
When the fire element is in balance we are able to communicate with the world around us with ease. We feel a great sense of connection with ourselves and others. We are passionate, optimistic and authentic. The emotion related to the fire element is JOY, and it is most closely related to love, passion, creativity and compassion. When this element is in balance, the fire gives us the power and energy to live life fully in the moment and gives us courage to pursue our passions despite our vulnerability. As the main organ related to the Fire Element is the heart, it is likely that we have experienced heart ache and hurt at some stage in our lives. The Pericardium is a sheath that surrounds the heart and provides a protective layer over the heart physically and emotionally speaking. When we have a healthy balanced amount of fire, it's this element that gives us the strength to continue on despite that heart ache.
As Summer is the Season of the Fire Element, it is more prone to becoming imbalanced at this time.
When the Fire Element is out of balance we run the risk of overdoing and burning out, anxiety, sleep problems and irregular heart beat are all signs that the fire element is not in harmony. If you have excess fire you are likely to become excitable, overly emotional, self destructive and seductive, if there is a deficiency in the fire element you may feel lost, depressed and uninspired.
As we begin to move into June and Ireland is beginning to reopen again after the Coronavirus lockdown, there's alot of uncertainly floating around about how things are going to pan out, it's natural that we might begin to feel anxious and a little bit lost in what direction that we might be heading in. Last month (May) we were working with the Fire Element in Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance), it was active, fiery and energising. With this beautiful warm weather that we are having and the emotional turmoil that this year has brought us we run the risk of over heating and over doing, so this Month we'll continue to work with opening the flow of energy along the meridian lines of the heart and small intestine but with a calmer cooler practice. The elements rely on each other to keep them balanced, the water element helps to balance Fire, the qualities of the water element include stillness and introspective so we'll include a little bit of stillness in our practice over June.
So where are the meridian lines that are associated with the heart and small intestines. Both meridian's run on the under or lower side of the arms. Here's a rough guideline; the heart line runs from the inner side of the baby finger, inner palm, wrist, forearm, elbow, inner upper arm ending in the armpit, the small intestine runs from the outer side of the baby finger, outer wrist, forearm, elbow, outer upper arm, it zigzag's over the shoulder blade, along the side of the neck and ends right under the ear. When it comes to your yoga practice these energy lines can be helpful to figure out what you may need to massage and stretch in order to encourage a free flow of energy, it's not as effective as acupuncture but our yoga practice can be helpful to help us nourish these meridians.
Last month we worked with Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance), this month we will work with heart opening and back-bending.
POSE OF THE MONTH
Anahatasana - Heart Melting Pose
Also called - Puppy Dog Pose or Half Dog Pose
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL BENEFITS
Soothing to the Heart, helping to release blocked emotions
Releases tension and creates and sense of well-being in the mind
Increases flexibility in the spine
Opens the chest
Stretches the shoulders and increases mobility in the shoulder girdle
Opens the lungs
Gently stretches the upper and lower back muscles
Can be helpful for stress and anxiety
CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS
Be mindful of you have any neck, allow forehead to rest on a block.
Avoid this pose if you've had recent surgery of the back, thighs or knees.
Severe Knee Pain. If mild knee pain, place a blanket under the knees
Be aware if you feel any tingling in the hands or fingers, this is a sign that you may compressing a nerve.
HINTS AND TIPS
If your shoulders are more restricted and bringing the arms up overhead is challenging, try moving the hands further apart to give the shoulders more space.
Placing a blanket under the knees can feel more comfortable for many peoples knees.
Rest your chest on a bolster or block if you are staying in the pose for a longer period of time.
For more comfortable you also do this pose with one arm extended and use the other hand to rest the forehead on top.