Yin/Yang and the Five Elements

Yin and Yang and the Five Elements

Energy in our world follows certain laws which are evident when we look at the world around us. The rules governing flow of ki (also represented as chi or qi)  are the rules of nature. Our world is created through a dynamic of opposites: earth and heaven, cold and hot, contraction and expansion. These dynamics create a flow or cycle of ki, as we see in night and day or the seasons of the year. In this module we explore how these laws manifest in our world and specifically in our bodies and lives.

The PDF provides you with principles of yin / yang and the five elements. It also poses questions for you to reflect on how energy flows in you and in your life to give you an understanding of how these concepts relate to you and how you may use this understanding to bring balance to your life.

The Warm Up: Getting Ki Flowing video below is a simple way to get ki moving in your body and to warm up before any physical activity. It is great to do it before any stretching or ki testing. I like to do it when I have been sitting in front of the computer too long! It activates ki and thus does create warmth in your body.

You will also notice that this sequence of movement activates the joints in the body. Joints are places where energy often becomes congested, so keeping them mobile is important to overall health.

The Five Element Stretches video introduces you to these wonderful simple stretches that stimulate the flow of energy through all the meridians (channels of energy) in your body. These stretches will assist you in recognizing areas or organs that are challenging you. They will also help to move ki through these areas and organs and thus bring balance to your whole system. Do these stretches often and you will notice benefits in your health and happiness. Be sure to only perform the stretches as is comfortable for your body. Some stretches may require modification for you to benefit from them. As you do these stretches, remember the yin / yang balance and stay relaxed but strong, centered in your abdomen. 

The Ki Strengthening: An Introduction video demonstrates a basic ki test, teaching how to stay in a balanced, yin / yang state. This ki test does require a partner. If you do not have a partner, you can view the video and feel it in your own body. If you do have a partner to test with, I would suggest viewing the video together and then performing your own ki testing and then review the video and testing. Even after thousands of ki tests, I am learning and adjusting. You cannot do too much!

The Ki Breathing video introduces you to a simple and powerful way of enhancing the flow of ki that can be done anywhere. Once you are familiar with this form of breathing exercise, you can focus in different ways while performing ki breathing in order to explore and cultivate different concepts or energies. In this unit, after you have become familiar with ki breathing by following the video instruction, you may use the instructions below to explore how breathing is the essential experience of yin and yang.

Kneel, sit stand or lie down in preparation for ki breathing.

Feel your body between earth and heaven.

Begin by dropping your jaw and breathing out through your mouth, sending your breath deep into the earth. When you feel you have exhaled completely, move forward slightly and pause for a moment, feeling this connection to the yin of the earth. Now close your mouth and begin to breathe the earth in through your nose, feeling the earth becoming part of you as your body expands into the earth. When you feel you have taken a full breath, move back slightly and pause to feel this yin energy filling your body. Continue this for a few breaths, connecting deeply with the yin of the earth.

Now notice the heavens, the air and sky above you. With the next exhalation, drop your jaw to breathe out through your mouth to the ends of the universe as your body contracts. Breathe it all out and then move slightly forward and pause to feel your breath connect with the cosmos. Now close your mouth and breathe in through your nose, breathing in the expanse of air from the sky and beyond. Feel your body expand until you feel full and can expand no further. Then move slightly backward, pause and feel the fullness of yang energy and your connection with the celestial realm.

Continue this breathing of yang energy for a few breaths. 

Now breathe out through your mouth both into the earth and into the sky at once. Breathe out the yin and the yang. Move forward and pause. Close your mouth and breath in the yin and yang together through your nose. Feel these energies come together in your body and circulate through it, and then move backwards and pause. Continue this yin and yang together for a few breaths.

As you continue to breathe yin and yang energy together, be aware of the point below your navel in your abdomen which is the mid-point between yin and yang in your body, the point called “one point” in ki testing. Feel your breath come to this point and then leave your body from this point. This is the central point in your body. Breath from and to your center. Whenever you need grounding, resource, or relaxation, return to this point. Be centered in your own body, balance in yin and yang.

The Massage: Tapping the Meridians video can be used on its own and will help you understand the cycle of ki in your body.

In this video, we tap along the meridians or channels of energy flow, in the order that the energy flows through the body, from yin to yang and from yang to yin. In general, the yin energy flows from the earth up the front of the body and from the heavens down the back of the body, when the arms are raised overhead, reaching toward heaven. Thus some of the yin channels flow down the inside of the arms and yang meridians up the outside when the arms are lowered.

Tapping the meridians provides a gentle but stimulating massage to the whole body. It can also be used as a warm-up or cool-down activity, to keep ki flowing through these channels and your body in balance.

Nourishing the Yin Yang Balance: A guided visualization, is an audio file that you can listen to as another way to connect with the experience of yin and yang and find balance in your body. Use this visualization when you have time to relax completely and give it your full attention. Have your course journal or notebook nearby so that you can record any observations, insights, or questions you have during the visualization. Enjoy this creative way to experience the yin and yang of ki.

Men are born soft and supple; dead they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail. – Lao Tzu

Go ahead and explore. Keep a playful attitude and remember to share your insights, experiences and challenges on the Facebook page. 

Video Material

Warm Up – Getting Ki Flowing

Five Element Stretches

Ki strengthening: An Introduction

Massage: Tapping the Meridians

Nourishing the Yin Yang Balance: A Guided Visualization

Nourishing the Yin Yang Balance: A Guided Visualization