Tag Archives: late summer

Yogapuncture for Late Summer: Spleen, Damp, Worry and Transitions

Calendula

The spleen and stomach system relate to the season of late summer, approximately the last month of summer time as well as the last 18 days or so of each season when we are slowly but surely becoming the next season. Because of this and the other functions of the spleen system it is closely tied with transitions environmentally, energetically, emotionally, and physically. In class we explored the breath and the space between the inhalations and exhalations, the place where one becomes the next.

Here is the quick reference for the spleen system:

Element: Earth                    Color: Yellow

Taste: Sweet                         Emotion: Overthinking/Worry

Opens to: Mouth                 Manifests on: Lips                            Controls: Muscles and extremities

The main function of the Spleen system is to transport and transform the food we eat. When you think of the spleen/stomach it is easy to think about digestion. This system takes the food we consume and transforms it into usable energy then takes it where the body needs it so it can be used. Digestion and absorption is all about the spleen. The spleen also plays a role in overseeing the water in our bodies as well making sure it is where it needs to be and taking it away from where it doesn’t belong. The pathogen of the spleen is dampness. If you’ve ever been outside on a damp day you can feel it in your body in a distinct way. People who have spleen imbalance can be very sensitive to this kind of weather. Other examples of dampness in the body include pain that is worse in damp weather, heavy achy limbs, edema, diarrhea, phlegm, and retained fluid.

The spleen also controls the blood. While the heart pumps the blood throughout the body and the liver stores it at rest the spleen makes sure the blood is contained where it is supposed to be. When the spleen is weak you may experience bleeding because of this such as spotting in between periods, long or heavy periods, nose bleeds etc

The spleen also controls the muscles and limbs and containment is involved here as well. Healthy muscles are those that contract when used and relax at rest. When the spleen is weak the muscles will be weak and the skin flabby. Malnourishment or excessive consumption of processed foods can cause this weakness in the body as well. Energetically the spleen moves upwards, when this energy is weak it can cause issues with the muscles such as prolapse of the uterus, rectum or other internal organs.

The spleen manifests on the lips. When the lips are soft, red and full it indicates the health of the spleen energy. When pale, dry or thin this can indicate issues or depletion of the spleen energy.

The taste of the spleen is sweet but not the way you might associate this flavor with. Full sweet flavor comes from root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, yams, beets, wheat, sweet peppers, corn, squashes etc Because the spleen is essentially a part of all seasons as the space between one and the next you can think of spleen foods as the foundations of your diet. Many orange and yellow foods are great first foods for babies when introducing solids because they are easy to digest.

The color of the season is yellow and it is easy to see why. Look around outside and everywhere you look there is vibrant yellow. The fields are golden, the flowers are yellow and even some dried leaves are yellow in color. Eating foods that are yellow are also beneficial to the spleen system.

The emotion is worry or overthinking. I can imagine when we depended on growing our own food how this season could be a time of worry. Did the crops yield enough to sell and hold us over winter? Would the coming winter be a rough one? In modern times we damage our spleen energy with multi-tasking. The spleen has many jobs but it is important to take it one step at a time. One way to protect your spleen is to make meal time your one and only priority. Turn the television off, put your smart phone in another room and enjoy the aromas and delicious sight of your foods. Chew thoroughly before taking another bite, putting your fork down in between tastes and enjoy good company and conversation.

If you find yourself in a state of ruminating and can’t get your mind to get off the hamster wheel the best way to clear your mind is to do movement where your opposite hand moves with your opposite foot. Walking is a perfect example of this and even simply walking in place can help especially if your thoughts start up when you’re trying to sleep.

Here are some spleen recipes:

Golden Milk, a spleen tonic

Green Lentil Curry

Mindful Eating for Thanksgiving

Roasted Red Pepper Chili with Zucchini and Quinoa

Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash

Coconut Lime Butternut Squash Soup

Cheesy Pesto Chicken Lasagna Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

http://www.food.com/recipe/black-bean-and-sweet-potato-chili-vegetarian-408973

Savory Pumpkin and Feta Muffins

Butternut Squash Lasagna with Tomato Basil Chicken Sausage

The color of the season is yellow and it is easy to see why. Look around outside and everywhere you look there is vibrant yellow. The fields are golden, the flowers are yellow and even some dried leaves are yellow in color. Eating foods that are yellow are also beneficial to the spleen system.

 

 

Yogapuncture for Late Summer (yoga)

The focus of our yoga practice this season is about finding equilibrium during times of transition. In each pose be mindful of your breath especially in the spaces between the inhale and exhale, the place of becoming. That’s what this season is all about. We do a series of postures in different ways to explore how it feels and which feel best for right now. The intention is to bring these postures into your daily practice however they feel best. Remember especially if you are short on time to pick 2 poses to practice everyday, the one from class you liked best and the one you liked least. 😉 Let’s begin.

Qi Gong

 

 

Wide Mountain Twist

Stand with feet shoulder width apart or wider. Feel how your feet make contact with the ground. Inhale arms to T exhale twist upper body to the right keeping hips square. Move with breath inhaling to center and exhaling to twist noting the space between each inhale and exhale. Repeat 3 times on each side and return to wide mountain to observe body for 3 breaths.

Standing with wide legs march in place for 3 breath cycles.

Closed leg mountain 

Standing with big toes touching and outer feet parallel inhale finger tips to shoulders exhale releasing shoulders down. Inhale lengthen spine and exhale twist. Repeat on opposite side. Do 3 rounds o each side.

 

With feet together march in place for 3 breath cycles.

Mountain Pose

Bring feet hip width apart. Inhale arms to cactus, exhale twist. Repeat other side. Do 3 rounds, return to center and observe for 3 breaths.

Repeat one more round of standing mountain twist which ever feet and arm combination felt best in your body.

With feet hip distance apart march in place for 3 breath cycles.

Mahasirs Mudra

Curl ring finger into palm and bring middle and index finger to touch thumb. Keep pinky extended and rest back of hands on thighs or knees. This mudra can help with clearing congestion and headaches especially when caused by weather changes. It also can help when we are spending too much time in our heads. Rest in this mudra for 3-6 minutes spending time observing your breath allowing for the spaces between your inhalations and exhalations to comfortably lengthen.

Acupressure SP6 & ST36

Bridge wide legged

Place feet shoulder width apart keeping knees and feet parallel. Arms are in a wide “V”, shoulders and neck are relaxed. Take a deep breath and feel the pause, with the exhale lift the hips off of the ground and hold for 3 breaths. Inhale and release, exhale and allow the body to soften. Repeat 3 times.

Low Twist

Lie on your back, knees bent feet on the floor. Bring arms to a “T”. With an exhale drop knees to right with knees pointing down and away from the body. If you feel any tightness in the hips of knees elevate the left thigh/knee with a blanket or block. If you want to go deeper into the twist turn the head to the left. Take 3 deep breaths. Lift right leg and then left back to center when you are finished. Repeat on the left.  

Bridge feet together

Thighs, knees and feet touching and arms close to body. Inhale, pause and exhale lift hips into bridge. Slide shoulders down and slide arms toward midline. Take 3 breath cycles and release. Observe effects of pose.

Twist II

Take a deep breath and as you exhale drop knees to the right bringing the thighs parallel with right arm. If any tightness is felt place a blanket or block under your right thigh. To go deeper turn head to the left. Both shoulders should be resting comfortably on the ground. Take 3 deep breaths, observing the gentle squeeze of the internal organs as you exhale.

Bridge Pose

Bring feet hip distance apart for this bridge pose. You can place a block inbetween your thighs. Three breath cycles

Twist Up

Arms in T, exhale knees into chest. Inhale pause, exhale drop knees to right with the knees pointing up to the arm pit/shoulder. Place a blanket or block under thigh for support if needed. Take 3 breaths. Pause in the center and Repeat on the left.

Supine Spleen Salutation

Start lying on your back, knees bent, feet hip width apart.

  1. Inhale
  2. exhale bridge pose
  3. inhale release
  4. exhale knees to chest arms up and over head
  5. inhale release arms at sides, extend legs up bent knees if need be
  6. exhale knees to chest
  7. inhale to starting point, do 3-5 rounds

Final relaxation 

Hold for 5-10 minutes in restorative pose of your choice

 

Late Summer Self Care Package Details

The late summer yogapuncture is in Crystal Lake on Friday September 15th at 7:15. If you’d like to join there are a few spots left. I am including a self care package that goes along with the theme of this yogapuncture and all of it relates to the spleen/stomach system in Chinese Medicine. The self care package is designed to assist you through out the season and hopefully give you a few new things you might not have tried before. Here are the 4 items that will be in this care package and what they are for. Since the spleen/stomach system’s main job in Chinese Medicine is to “rot and ripen” our food both transforming and transporting the energy our body uses from the food we eat and the color associated with this system is yellow/orange it only felt fitting to include a few things that support digestion.

Trikatu pastilles

These are hand rolled “pills” of powdered ginger, peppercorn and long pepper with raw, local honey are part of Ayurvedic medicine (Chinese Medicine’s). These can be enjoyed before or after a meal to assist with digestion and are especially good if you have a tendency to run cold or struggle with gas and bloating. Not sure if you run cold? If raw foods seem to give you an upset stomach that could be an indication of cold in your belly as one example. Black pepper is known to assist in the absorption rate of the foods it is paired with. These are especially helpful in the fall/winter seasons when the temperatures are colder.

Smokeless Moxa stick
Moxabustion is a preventative tool in Chinese Medicine. Mugwort a yellow spongy herb in the chrysanthemum family is heated over acupuncture points for a variety of ailments and also to aid the body in staying well. Instead of stimulating acu points with pressure or needles the warmth of the moxa stick held over acupuncture points helps to improve circulation and boost energy. Because moxa can be a create a thick smoke smokeless moxa is used for the same benefit, its scent is similar to incense and does not linger as long as regular moxa. Instructions on how to use the moxa stick and which points to stimulate for fall will be included. You will also get a chance to give it a try at the yogapuncture class. 🙂
Belly Bag
This is a weighted bag filled with rice that can be heated or used “as is”.  Place over your abdomen to help facilitate deeper breathing and connect with your center. A freeing sensation is often felt when the belly bag is removed after resting over the abdomen for a period of time and can help with managing stress combined with deep breathing. We will also be using these in class also!
Golden Milk tonic concentrate

Golden milk includes turmeric and ginger (both are yellow/orange) which are helpful anti inflammatory herbs. This concentrate is homemade and takes the labor out of making your own golden milk at home. Drink daily for a boost of energy, to support your spleen/stomach system and reduce inflammation. It reminds me of a latte and feels cozy in your belly on a cool fall day without any of the guilt. This golden milk is also dairy and caffeine free.

If you would like a self care package let me know by next Wednesday Sept 13th. The cost is $35 I will only be making them to order this time. They will be ready for class on next Friday and if you can’t make it to class I can mail to you or you can pick up by me. If you have any questions please let me know!

See you Friday!

Late Summer Transitioning

Can you feel it? Autumn is on the breeze, ever so slightly. Its a whisper in the urgency we feel as we race to the pool for the last dips of the season, as we watch the sun dipping slowly down the horizon faster than we would like as the dew of the grass feels a little too cool in the early mornings and evenings. The garden is slowly but surely going to seed, leaves drying out in a blaze of yellow.

It amazes me to watch the subtle connection my children have to the seasons. In the height of summer their energy seems to have no bounds, they push bed time as far as they can with all sorts of joy filled shenanigans and wake early with the sun ready to start a new. I think to myself how will I ever get them to bed on time for school even when its months away and then that tiny whisper on the breeze beckons them to bed a little earlier, the shenanigans don’t last quite as long, they don’t fight the heaviness on their eye lids, they wake with the sun which is also a little later to rise. There is always so much to learn.

In Chinese Medicine the Spleen and Stomach system relate traditionally to late summer and also any periods of transitions whether that be between seasons of the environment, seasons of our lives or the ebb and flow of our days. The spleen correlates to the earth which is our center. Its job is to ripen and rot our food to be transformed and transported throughout the body to be made into usable energy. Its emotion is worry or over thinking and controls the mouth and the muscles of the body. Most Americans can be classified as spleen (qi) energy deficient because of our fast lifestyle and empty diet.

Join me Friday September 15th from 7:15-9:45 in Crystal Lake as we explore the Spleen/Stomach system a little deeper through gentle yoga practice, acupressure, acupuncture, and nourishing foods. If the cooler weather leaves you with a feeling of dread, you struggle with digestive issues, are going through a life transition or just like learning this class is for you. Space is limited and I would love to see you there! Look for a facebook event to reserve your spot soon.

Until then enjoy the last bits of summer. 😉