An Integrative Approach
An Integrative Approach

Earth Element – Nourishment

Earth Element is the one element that does not correlate to a season per say. Rather, it is the conceptual transition from one season to the next. The period of time when we return to center before moving into the next season. Earth element is our home, our center or core. The ‘season’ given is called “late summer,” though it should be considered year-round. Late summer, however, is an easily understood reflection of Earth Element. This time of year we are able to be completely nourished by the abundance of Mother Nature. Strolling through the famers market on a mid august Saturday morning, we feel the immense heat of sun and we see that stand after stand is overflowing with the fruits of summers labor. We are also conscious of summer ending, as children are preparing to start the school year again and talk of holiday plans starts to stir. Fitting, I think, that the organs which represent the Earth element are the Spleen (yin) and Stomach (yang) Organs. This duo is primary in aiding digestion, our physical center, the very core of our being.

Spleen Organ –

The Spleen Organ is about nourishment and holding/uplifting. It’s primary role is to work in tandem with the Stomach Organ in digestion. Specifically the Spleen must govern the transformation and transportation of food essences. It is argued that the pancreas is included in the ancient chinese medical description of the Spleen, which would correlate with our understanding of the pancreas in aiding digestion. The Spleen organ is central in the production of Qi, a term often translated as life force energy. Spleen is also responsible for controlling the blood, because it helps to supply nutrients to form the blood and because it is in charge of holding the blood in the vessels. The Spleen Organ is also crucial in ascending Qi, meaning: holding up the internal organs, as well as sending vital nutrients up [to the Lung and Heart Organs]. The spirit of the Spleen is called Yi and is considered our intellect, responsible for studying, memorizing, concentration and focus.

The emotion of the spleen is worry or pensiveness, the taste is sweet, smell is fragrant, sound is singing, color is yellow. The Spleen does not like dampness because it is damp in nature. Spleen controls the muscles and four limbs and opens into the mouth while manifesting in the lips.

Stomach Organ –

The Stomach Organ is thought to be the most important of all the Yang Organs. It’s primary functions are receiving food and drink, ‘rotting, ripening and transporting’ food as well as descending qi. The stomach and spleen work together to control this descending and uplifting nature of the qi. The stomach descends the qi [food] down to the spleen, which conversely sends qi [assimilated food] up to the lungs and heart to utilize. Stomach is also the origin of fluids.

One very important note about the earth element organs is that they are considered to be the root of something called Post-Natal Qi. In theory, we are born with Pre-Natal Qi, a metaphorical trust fund. Then after birth, in an essence it becomes our responsibility to add to this savings account to be sure we continue to stay nourished in our lifetime.

Meridians –

The Earth element Stomach and Spleen meridians both span the entire body. The spleen begins on the medial aspect of the big toe and runs up the arch of the foot, the inside line of the leg and along the abdomen all the way to just under the collar bone and then ends at a point down from the center of the armpit along the lower ribs. The stomach channel starts at the eye, spans down and around the whole face, onto the neck and runs a medial line from the spleen down the entire torso, then crossing over to the lateral aspect of the leg where in travels down to the second toe. These meridian lines are a clear and fundamental base to our standing structure.

A Yoga Addition –

Because of the nature of these Chanels, you could make a case for nearly every yoga pose. I’ll name a few below to consider for opening the earth element meridian lines

Warrior Series- Virabhadrasana – The entire series is appropriate for Spleen and Stomach meridians. stepping one leg forward and bending the knee, you anchor your back leg into the mat primarily using the strength of your big toe. As though you were going to pull the mat together with your two opposing feet, you activate the Spleen channel line. Lifting your arms in any of the poses allows an awakening of the final spleen point and finding your drishti (point of focus) is an important part of the pose which also addresses the stomach channel line.

Goddess pose – Utkata Konasana – stepping out laterally with one leg and finding a deep bend in the knees, activating both Spleen and Stomach channel lines.

Reclined Butterfly pose – Supta Baddha Konasana – laying on your back, bringing the soles of your feet to touch and splaying your knees our wide (blocks to support this are recommended for anyone to not injure the hips), this pose lengthens the spleen meridian. If you bring your arms into cactus you will find another layer of stretch across the belly and chest.

Saddle Pose РSupta Virasana Рfrom a seated position with bent knees and hips on ankles, and toes pointed behind you, allow your hips to drop between your feet.  You should never feel pain in this pose and one way to avoid this is to place a block under your gluts so you do not strain the knee joint. Placing a bolster behind you, walk your torso back so you are laying reclined.

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