Spring, Wood Energy and your Liver
Within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), each season is associated with one of the 5 elements. Spring is paired with the Wood element.
Wood exemplifies the energy of growth, change, and pushing through obstacles. It’s a very active energy that allows for a lot of movement and progress, both internally and externally. When obstructed or restrained , it is also the energy of frustration, anger and stress.
As Spring approaches we may have more energy to get moving on projects (i.e. “spring cleaning”) and at the same time, sticky areas and frustration can be especially obvious. Spring is really good time to work with these blockages, and get things moving so we can have access to all that great energy.
In TCM, the organ system that represents Wood is the Liver. The Liver governs the muscles and tendons, the eyes, and the fingernails, and plays a key role in the function of the reproductive system. In the body as a whole, it is responsible for the smooth flow of mental and physical energy, and assists all the other organ systems in functioning properly.
Liver qi allows for the appropriate movement of emotions, and has an especially strong connection with the feelings of anger and frustration. As the Liver qi starts to flow more easily in the spring, problems that bothered us in the winter often start to feel better, and we find we have more energy and vigor. Sometimes, though, the transition can be a little rocky, and people feel more stagnant and pent-up for a little while.
Spring can be a hard time for health issues that are related to qi stagnation such as depression, muscle tightness and pain, digestive disorders, migraines, and menstrual difficulties. Don’t be discouraged if these symptoms feel a little worse, just when the weather is starting to get better. Spring is great time to work with these conditions, because the patterns are most accessible and responsive to lasting change.
Try some of these ideas so you can make the most of the Spring Wood energy:
STRETCH: Since the Liver controls the tendons maintaining tendon health and flexibility will help keep that Liver qi flowing freely. Incorporate a morning stretch into your routine. Try yoga or Thai Chi.
EYE HEALTH – The Liver opens into the eyes and is responsible to proper eye function. Remember to take breaks when looking at a computer monitor for extended periods of time and do eye exercises.
EAT GREEN – Green is the color of the Liver and of Spring. Eating fresh, leafy greens, sprouts can improve the liver’s overall functions and aid in the movement of qi.
GET OUTSIDE – Outside air helps Liver qi flow. If you have been feeling irritable, find an outdoor activity to smooth out that Liver qi stagnation. Try hiking or going for a bike ride.
GET SOME BODYWORK! – Asian bodywork, therapeutic massage and energy healing can help improve the overall health of your Liver as well as treat stress, anger and frustration, which are often associated with Liver qi disharmony.