The Art of Taking in and Letting Go
Welcome to October. We are now truly moving into Autumn, my favourite time of year, maybe because the metal element and Autumn represents the transitioning of moving from activity and growth to dormancy and stillness, moving from Yang to Yin. In other words my lazy side LOVES this time of year, open fires, hot cozy teas, fluffy socks and blankets. I know a lot of people don't like the dark evenings but to me they allow for more time to chill and not feel guilty about taking some time out.
The metal element sometimes gets a bad rap for not being a "natural element" but it is. Metal brings structure to the Earth, iron and nickel make up the inner core of the Earth, gold and silver represents the Earth's value. The metal element within the body provides structure in our lives and enables us to know our own value and self worth. It gives us the ability to take in life, drink in what's good for us and let go of the other stuff, it cuts through what's not important so we can get to the beauty that lies beneath.
The Characteristics of the Metal element include:
Calm and strong
Responsible and motivated
Disciplined and has strong self esteem
Can be reshaped or recreated many times to take any form but it takes time.
The emotion linked with the metal element is grief or sadness. When the metal element is in balance the process of grief and sadness enables us to let go of the past and in return gain wisdom. We are able to let go of attachments and form new relationships or routines without fear of loss. We gain courage to continue on.
Adopts inspiring rituals
Has great inner strength
Ability to let go
Out of Balance Metal:
In Excess of Metal -
In Deficiency of Metal -
Can have difficulty with -
Respiratory - asthma
Lymphatic and immune system
Ways to keep the Metal Element Balanced
Structure and routine are important for Metal dominant people, however it's important to soften the boundaries to avoid becoming to rigid, the ability to connect and be social are meaningful ways to stay open to being spontaneous.
The fire element softens metal so finding your passion and having hobbies are good ways of maintaining structure and routine while making room to have some fun.
Eat warming foods, soups and curries full of healthy fats, warming spices and herbs.
Even though the weather is turning colder at this time of year, spending some time outside is essential especially if you suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder).
Practicing yoga twists and chest openers (especially those with the hands clasped behind you). Poses that you can stay in a little longer will be more effective at stimulating the lung and large intestine meridian lines.
On the physical level the organs associated with the metal element are the Lungs (Yin) and the Large Intestines (Yang). These organs are important for a strong immune system. The Lung Qi (energy) is responsible for respiration and helps to support the protective chi that surrounds the body and helps to fight off external pathogens. The breath coming in and out of the lungs helps to circulate and descend fluid throughout the body, it enables the body to send impure fluid to the kidneys. The Large Intestines enables us to get rid of the solid substances that the body no longer needs.
The metal element represents the physical and emotional act of taking in (through the lungs) and letting go (through the large intestines).
Both the lung and large intestine meridian lines run up the arms, the lung meridian starts in the outer thumb and runs up the top side of the arm on the inner upper wrist, inner forearm, through the elbow up the upper inner arm, across the front of the deltoid (muscle on the front of the shoulder) and ends in the hollow below the collar bone just where the pecs (chest muscles) start.
The large intestine meridian starts in the index finger, runs up the outer side of the arm, crosses over the deltoid towards the supraspinatus (rotator cuff muscle at the top backside of the shoulder), and finishes under the nose.
The Metal Element in Your Yoga Practice
When we think of the qualities of metal, we think strong, steady, supportive, confident, we think of solid structures, so in the yoga practice, we'll set up the posture with good alignment so we can stand in our own strength. We also want to be mindful that we don't become too rigid and stuck so we'll play with softening the edges of body and include soft movement in the arms. We'll open up around the chest and shoulders.
In the Indian Tradition of Ayurveda (Life Knowledge) this time of year is Vata Season which is associated with being, dry, cold, windy, rough, light and erratic. In the Ayurvedic system like increases like so to keep balance its important to do the opposite, which means to keep balanced it's important to to the opposite of dry = hydration or moisture; cold = warm; windy = grounded or steady; rough = smooth, clear, precise; light = heavy; erratic = calm or routine. So if we look closely we see that both the Indian and Chinese system agree with each other and that is, this time of year it's a good idea to slow things down, maintain a routine and get grounded.
Pose Focus for the Metal Element
Salabhasana Variation - Locust Variation
Salabh - Locust / Grasshopper
Asana - Pose
Level - Beginners
This variation of Locust Pose increases the stretch across the chest, shoulders and arms which helps to stimulate the lung meridian line. Although this is a wonderful back strengthening pose, for the purpose of maintaining balance of the metal element focus on opening and stretching the front of the shoulders.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL BENEFITS
Can relieve stress
Helps to overcome negative thought patterns and obstacles
Stretches and strengthens shoulders, chest, belly and thighs
Strengthens the back body especially the muscles along the spine, glutes, hamstrings and triceps.
Stimulates the abdominal organs
Lower back pain
CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS
Serious back injury
Neck injuries - keep head in a neutral position by looking at the floor or support the head with a block or blanket.
HINTS AND TIPS
This pose can also be done with feet and legs lifted for more back body strengthening but keep the tops of the feet on the floor to reduce pressure on the lower back
Place a block or blanket underneath the forehead to reduce strain in the neck and upper back.
You can hold onto a strap is interlacing the fingers is difficult for your shoulders.