The 5 Elements and the Seasons


The Water Element – Winter

Kidney & Urinary Bladder

Winter is ruled by the water element: the most nourishing and essential substance for life.  Winter represents the most Yin aspect in Chinese medicine. Yin is the dark, cold, slow, inward energy. This element stores much of people’s reserves of energy. That’s why rest is crucial in the winter. This time of year, over-work and lack of sleep easily depletes the water element and the kidneys, especially.

Emotions that are associated with Water Water is Yin and is associated with the emotion fear.  Water people have a persistence and determination and will often excel in situations that others find too scary.  Sometimes they may hide a deep sense of being frozen or washed away by their own fear.

Winter is a good season to:

  • Keep your back covered! In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s important to keep your kidneys warm in winter.
  • Eat warming foods such as hearty soups, whole grains and roasted nuts, or steaming cups of ginger or cinnamon tea
  • Practice Yin Yoga and a soft Yang Yoga practice like slow flow (or any kind of fluid exercise ) in alternation. 
  • Pay attention to your dreams. Winter is associated with introspection and receptivity.


The Wood Element – Spring

Liver & Gallbladder

Wood is associated with Spring because it is a time of growth, expansion and buoyancy. Like the seed that has been lying dormant in the earth during winter conserving its reserves, in springtime it bounds forward with new intent to bring life to our planet. The wood element is about renewal, awakening and rebirth. The spirit of the Liver & Gallbladder  helps us organize and coordinate our ideas and visions into actions and change. The Liver is in charge of the smooth flow of Qi.

Emotions associated with Wood are more yang include- anger, aggression, irritability, repressing emotions, frustration, impatience, impulsive, rigid and negative attitude, and nervous tension. A way out of balance Wood Element would be addiction, rage, and violence. Wood Element people can release emotions by writing down feelings on paper to vent. More yin Wood imbalances might be depression, apathy, and inability to plan or organize. Emotions that correspond to Wood harmony are expression, independence, kindness, forgiveness, patience, thoughtfulness, foresight, self-expansion, and identity. Wood also governs the mental and spiritual eye.

cultivating wood Element:  We all need physical activity, but for Wood Element types, it is especially important to stay active and be flexible. Rising early and taking brisk walks to help balance may serve Wood people. Stretching softens muscles, relieves pressure and improves circulation. Martial arts and kickboxing help to nourish Wood Element.  Yoga poses such as Tree pose will be helpful for better Wood balance… And, don’t forget to express! Punch the air or a pillow. Drum and stomp.

Spring is a good season to:

  • Eat light, raw foods such as greens, sprouts, fruits, nuts, seeds and celery
  • Add lemon to your drinking water to help detoxify the liver
  • Make plans for your future to capitalize on spring’s association with being awake and alert, and to have a plan for summer, the season of activity

The Fire Element – Summer

Heart, small Intestines, Pericardium, Triple Burner

The energetic pathways of the Heart, Small Intestines, Pericardium and Triple Burner make up the most Yang like of the five elements, Fire.
Represented by the rising heat of summer and acting as the governor of our emotions, Fire is the storehouse of our heart-mind or Shen spirit. our Shen is the seat of our intuition, which is reflected in our eyes as a spark for life. When emotion is scattered and can’t reside back in the heart, neither can the Shen (the Spirit) When the Shen cannot go home, Qi scatters like a Plant in the heat of a Desert without Water

Emotions associated with Fire: Fire is the element of Summer and all the Emotions are related to Yang. Joy, Love, Affection…  Fire people love to reach out and be in relationship with all people. They enjoy to  laugh . and sometimes they carry a sadness or lack of joy deeper in themselves.

Summer is a good season to:

  • Get plenty of cardiovascular exercise, because fire rules the heart and circulatory system
  • If you are fire deficient, eat warming foods, such as peppers, ginger, citrus, butter, meats, corn, cherries and basmati rice
  • If you have an excess of fire, eat cooling foods, such as cucumber, sprouts, watermelon, apples, lemons and limes
  • Set up power lunches and meet with friends, because fire is linked to social connectivity

The Earth Element – Late Summer

stomach & spleen

Sustaining, nourishing, grounding and supportive this phase represents Mother Earth and the central point into which you can ground to view the world.

The corresponding meridians of this element are the Stomach and Spleen, responsible for the transformation and transportation of nutrients around the body. It is the Spleens job, with the help of the Liver, to extract the nutrients from the food we eat, converting it into Qi to them be exported around the body via the blood. The Stomach digests the food and sends anything that which doesn’t serve us down to the Intestines to leave us and return to Earth to be dissolved. The Earth element is not only related to our ability to digest and absorb food and nutrients, but also concepts, experience and thoughts in life.

The Stomach and Spleen make up the middle burner where the Yi energy resides, in charge of logic and thought. Yin yoga poses which stretch the superficial front line of the body, especially the quads, will help stimulate these pathways.

Obsessive thinking and worry can be an outcome of an imbalance in Earth energy. But when balanced compassion and sympathy come easily. Taking your yoga practice out into nature or doing a barefoot walking meditation is a fantastic way to connect with the energy of this element and ground down into the present moment, potentially extracting some of the Earth’s healing electrons into your body in the process.

Late summer is a good season to:

  • Choose smart sugars – apples, carrots, dates, figs, grapes, peaches, pears, squash and sweet potatoes – to help the pancreas regulate your blood sugar
  • Eat mindfully. By paying attention to portions and slowing down when you eat, you can help the spleen.
  • Throw a dinner party. Late summer is associated with community and mealtime.

The Metal Element – Autumn

Lungs &  large Intestines

The season of autumn bares the harvest of the summer’s labours and begins to shed its skin, approaching the end of a cycle that will finish and rest in the depths of winter, before a new cycle takes seed once again in spring. Like the season it represents Metal is a time for detoxification and letting go, along with the condensing of energy once again towards Yin. Like the autumn, It can be viewed like the later maturation in your lifecycle, in which you have a well-developed sense of right and wrong and fair justice in life.

Manifesting in the Lung and Large Intestines meridians that run along the inner and outer arms. The lungs and respiration play an important part in the purifying role of this element. The Lungs are the root of all Qi, which is taken in via our inhalations and then expels the impure via our exhalations. It is in the Lungs that we often experience the loss, longing, grief or sadness that can be felt as an imbalance with Metal. Our lungs connect us to the present moment and in turn to our corporeal soul.

In Yin yoga, these meridian lines can be stimulated with poses that stretch across the chest, shoulders and arms such as Shoelace with Eagle arms or reclining Butterfly with arms spread to the side or overhead. Including breath awareness or Pranayama into a Metal yin yoga practice is also harmonising for the energy of this phase.

Autumn is a good season to:

  • Eat root vegetables, whole grains and hearty foods as a way to clean out the intestines
  • Do weight training to make good use of the muscle-building protein you crave as winter comes
  • Focus on relaxation in the evening hours. Autumn is associated with late afternoon and evening time, and getting ready for sleep.