THE METAL ELEMENT – THE HIDDEN TREASURES
You notice a falling in temperature, the season becomes well… unseasonal. If you live in a country that does have four seasons, this is known as Autumn. Leaves begin to change colour, and you start to look for the winter woollies.
When you live in Singapore, it is characterised by either a major increase or decrease in rain, some wind and a drop in temperature.
This is the season where, with attention, we can explore our inner nature. Where we can find the emotional treasures hidden deep within ourselves, and connect with our spirit being.
The Metal Element characteristics
The Season: Autumn
Spirit: Po (corporeal) soul
The yin/yang meridians: Lung/Large intestine
It is often known as the air element.
Metal is valuable – the chinese character for metal is Jin, representing nuggets of gold beneath the earth. The symbol for earth is contained within this chinese character, with an additional line suggesting greater depth, a sloping roof indicating covering or concealing something underneath.
In the human body, metal manifests as trace minerals & minerals. Have you ever had a muscle cramp? That’s metal, or lack of it, in your body.
When our metal is in balance, we have a strong sense of our own self-worth. We are good at cutting to the chase, fighting for what we believe in, standing up to bullies. We also know how to easily move on from things, or people that no longer serve us.
Desire and attachment are hardwired into us, as social and survival instincts. The degree to which we manage attachment, with becoming too detached, tells us much about our metal balance.
Psycho-emotional attributes of metal:
In balance, the metal element gives us the strength to let go of that which we no longer need or serves us and to stand up for what we believe in. Out of balance, we can either lose sight of our own worth and value (similar to Earth element), or hang onto people, positions, ideas and beliefs long after their use by date.
Compulsions and obsessions are often indicative of a metal imbalance.
Letting go is easier said than done. People telling us to let go are usually more irritating than helpful. How to let go? Learning to be present – to be now. When we become conscious of the present, letting go just happens. Meditation and mindful practices are great for those whose metal element is out of balance.
Learning to connect our Po, the corporeal spirit in us, also gives us greater power of the now. It is the only one of the five spirits the Chinese believe we have that dies with us. Breathwork is a key bridge between this spirit and our animal body.
The metal element is associated with the Lungs (yin) and Large intestine (yang) meridians. In Western medicine, these are not connected. But in TCM, they are responsible for the letting in and letting go in our body.
In TCM, the lungs cover the nose, nasal passage, trachea and lungs. The most important function of the lungs is to inhale the Heavenly Qi. This Qi is combined with the extracted by the spleen to form gathering Qi (Zong Qi). 30% of our post natal Qi comes from air, 70% from food.
The lungs house the spirit Po, the corporeal soul. The lung Qi purpose is to harmonise how to live as a spiritual being in an animal body.
In Western medicine, this has four parts, serum, colon, rectum and anal canal. It conducts waste material from the body, and at the same time, reabsorbs water and minerals. In TCM, the large intestine Qi helps with the descending Lung Qi. The large intestine Qi purpose is to help us learn how to let go.
Suggested meridian points for a yoga practice
All points in the WanderingYogi Yin for Yang are suggested based on the following criteria:
- You can access them during your yoga practice
- They are considered effective points within that meridian to balance your energy safely (i.e., without the help of an expert).
The WanderingYogi Yin for Yang:
Here is a suggested practice for balancing your Metal element.
The WanderingYogi Approach
No yoga practice is complete without using all the five elements. Remember to balance your focus with its yielding (opposite) element. Always start your yoga practice with mother earth poses. Do poses at least twice. Don’t forget to do left and right sides! Smile and enjoy!
Pranayama – inhale/exhale, hands tucked in under your armpits. Then, breath with Acupressure point Zhong Fu (Middle Palace Lung 1).
Middle Palace Lung 1: Zhong Fu is both an entry point and the mu, or alarm, point for the lung meridian. Helps with breathing difficulties such as asthma, bronchial issues. If we are holding onto something, active massage in this area will release the tensions.
- Cat-cow – synchronising of breath and using sounds of each animal change the effect of the breath
- Reverse Cow – placing the fingers towards the body, leaning away as much as you can
- Toe pose with Garudasana arms, coming off toes and falling into reclining tree, switching arms, try for garudasana legs left and right.
- Swing back up to table top, dog series – down dog, peeing dog, pointer dog. Hold down dog, raise one leg and point the toe, put the hand behind back on bum. Peeing dog, hold for 5 breaths, lift the leg, then drop to knees and go to pointer dog.
- Come up to tree pose, swing from side to side, lateral side flexions.
- Jump feet wide, come to metal chair, arms straight out in front, arms as strong and forward as you can. Take them out to the side and then up, straight and strong. Hold for 5 breaths each variation.
- Hands to ground, jump back legs wide. Side twist left and right, holding for 5 breaths each side.
- Transition down to ground to full metal triangle. Up to half metal triangle, then to pigeon pose. Hold these poses for 2 minutes each. Try some variations in pigeon, from king pigeon to mermaid.
Hegu (Joining Valley) – probably the best known pressure point of all time. May know this as good for easing headaches. But its major purpose is to treat any conditions that involve tightening and hanging on, an inability to let go, relax, be free.
- Flip yourself over to reverse table top, lifting up the hips for as high as you can. Move to rack and hold.
- Move into forward fold (caterpillar). roll over to one side and bend the legs in and out. Don’t forget to do other side.
- Transition to Sphinx and Seal Pose. Hold for 2 minutes.Reverse Savasana
- Transition to Eka Buja Swasistasana, left and right. Aka Buja Padmasana, left and right. Hold for 2 minutes each side. Practice bhastrika pranayama while you are here.Reverse Savasana.
- Childs Pose, then to Playful Puppy (Annahatasana) hold for 2 minutes.
- Dragon fly pose and then with side flexion (hold for 2 minutes each). Practice treating into the lung that is being opened.
- Bridge pose, Snail pose, Savasana (Chinese 5 elements pose).