Spring is the season of new growth and renewal, and in traditional Chinese medicine, it's associated with the wood element. In Chinese Medicine theory, the wood element's related meridian system pair is the Liver and Gall Bladder. Together, these organs are responsible for the smooth flow of qi and blood in the body and regulates emotions. They are our “first responder” channels to the stresses in our lives. The wood element is all about growth, flexibility, and the ability to adapt to change. But when this element is out of balance, we can feel stuck, frustrated, and overwhelmed.
At Mache, we believe in taking a holistic approach to health and wellness, and that includes balancing the wood element for a healthy spring. Here are some tips to get started.
1. Eat for the season:
Spring is the perfect time to incorporate fresh, seasonal produce into your diet. Leafy greens, sprouts, and herbs are all great options for balancing the wood element. You can also incorporate sour and pungent flavors, like citrus and ginger, which help to support liver and gallbladder function and promote healthy digestion. Milk thistle (herb) helps protect liver cells from incoming toxins and encourages the liver to cleanse itself of damaging substances, such as alcohol, medications, pesticides, environmental toxins, and even heavy metals such as mercury.
Note: Too many rich, heavy, greasy foods congest this organ pair and impair their ability to effectively circulate qi and blood. This congestion is referred to as “damp-heat accumulation” (think: gallstones, high cholesterol, plaque in the arteries, or inflammation).
2. Move your body:
Regular exercise is essential for balancing the wood element as it promotes flexibility and helps release stuck energy. The liver controls the tendons and, according to Chinese medicine, stores blood during periods of rest and releases it to the tendons during activity to maintain tendon health and flexibility.
To incorporate exercise into your routine, try adding a morning stretch routine or engaging in gentle, flowing movements like yoga, tai chi, and qi gong, which all support the liver and gallbladder. If you're feeling more high-energy, running or cycling can also help get your blood flowing and clear stagnation.
To target specific areas where the liver and gallbladder channels run, pay attention to the sides of your body, IT band, ribs, jaw, hips, and shoulders. If these areas feel tight, focus on breathwork and release techniques to alleviate the tension. Triangle pose, side stretches, psoas releases, and gentle twists are all effective options.
3. Declutter your space:
The wood element is associated with growth, but it's also about letting go of what no longer serves us. Take some time to declutter your space, getting rid of any physical items that are holding you back. This could be old clothes, paperwork, or even relationships that are no longer healthy. This allows for the free flow of energy, which is essential for maintaining a healthy balance in your environment. You can also incorporate the Wood element into your decor by adding plants, using green accents, and incorporating natural materials like wood and bamboo.
4. Connect with nature:
Spending time in nature is a great way to connect with the Wood element and support your overall health and wellbeing. Nature is abundant with Wood energy, from the trees and plants to the sounds of birds and other animals.
When we spend time in nature, we allow ourselves to disconnect from the stresses of daily life and connect with something larger than ourselves. This can be incredibly grounding and rejuvenating, helping to restore our sense of balance and wellbeing.
There are many ways to spend time in nature, from going for a walk in the park to hiking in the woods or spending time by the ocean. Even just sitting outside and listening to the sounds of nature can be incredibly soothing and calming.
By taking time to connect with the Wood element in nature, we can support our overall health and wellbeing during the Wood season and beyond. It's important to prioritize time in nature as a way to support our connection to the natural world and promote a sense of balance and harmony in our lives.
5. Create your vision:
Wood energy (Liver and Gallbladder) is about vision, both literally and figuratively. The ability to see your path ahead, not get bogged down in the day-to-day stresses, and to have a vision for your future are all Liver strengths. A Liver that is too stuck and rigid may have trouble bending in the breeze so to speak, or being flexible enough to creatively work around life’s roadblocks. Find things that help you clarify your vision — both day-to-day and your long-term goals.
Things such as journaling, talking to a good friend, and meditating are all ways to keep your Liver energy flowing and your vision strong and flexible. Read our journal post to help you define your values and incorporate them into your vision.
6. Practice mindfulness:
Practicing mindfulness is a great way to support balance in the Wood element. Mindfulness involves cultivating present-moment awareness and acceptance, allowing us to observe our thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations without judgment. When we practice mindfulness, we can become more aware of the patterns and tendencies that may be causing imbalances in the Wood element.
For example, we may become aware of a tendency to overthink or become stuck in rigid patterns of behavior, which can contribute to the development of physical symptoms or emotional stress. By practicing mindfulness, we can cultivate a greater sense of flexibility and adaptability, which are key qualities of the Wood element. We can learn to respond to stress and challenges in a more balanced and grounded way, allowing us to maintain a sense of flow and ease in our lives.
Some ways to practice mindfulness include meditation, breathing exercises, and body awareness practices such as yoga or tai chi. By incorporating these practices into our daily lives, we can support balance in the Wood element and promote overall health and wellbeing.
7. Acupressure at home:
There are several acupressure points that can help to improve stuck liver and gallbladder qi. Apply firm pressure to these points with your thumb or finger and hold for several seconds, or until you feel a release in the muscle. Some of our favorites:
LV3 (Tai Chong):
Located on the top of the foot, between the big toe and second toe.
This point can help to regulate liver qi and relieve stress.
LV14 (Qi Men):
Located on the chest, just below the nipple.
This point can help to regulate liver qi and relieve tension in the chest and ribs.
GB 34 (Yanglingquan):
Located on the outside of the lower leg.
This point can help to ease joint pain and stiffness, sciatica, knee, or hip pain.
At Mache, we believe that a healthy spring starts with balancing the wood element. By incorporating these tips into your daily routine, you can support your liver and gallbladder, release stuck energy, and embrace the energy of growth and renewal.