Updated: Jul 13, 2022
Summer is about growth, expansion, abundance and is ruled by fire. The fire energy inside sparks us to come alive, to be open and to feel abundance. This flame allows us to become conscious of ourselves and others, to express love and gratitude and to become awake in our lives. However, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) teaches us how heart chi can become imbalanced during summer. What are the symptoms of heart energy imbalance? How can we kindle the flame in our hearts to respond more skillfully to the demands of the new norm?
The heart houses our ‘shen’ or spirit and is considered to be the home of our internal harmony. The heart is compared to a supreme monarch who is responsible for maintaining internal peace and harmony. This means that if your heart is not peaceful, its function will be affected, which, in turn, will impact the whole.
When heart chi is out of balance, we can feel empty, sad, estranged and find it challenging to feel connected with life and others. I’m experiencing some heart energy imbalance right now as I work through homesickness having spent tender time with my parents in Ireland, recently. The sadness manifests like a deep ache in my heart.
On the upside, when heart energy is flowing, we are full of vitality, we feel nourished, harmonious, able to connect with our innate joy, build healthy relationships and understand the connectedness of all life. I have found some of the following practices to be helpful in grounding my spirit and bringing joy and radiance back into my life.
All foods in TCM have a temperature and energetic quality. In summer its best to eat cooling foods that are moistening. Eating more watermelon, cucumbers, pickles, mint, salads and raw vegetables including bitter greens like endive, escarole, spinach, kale, and swiss chard. Bitter is the flavor associated with summer and it’s a powerful mover of chi in the body and a digestion aid. Remember it’s important not to overdo bitter flavors which can dry up fluid in the body and seemingly, rob us of our joy.
One ‘bitter’ food I need to constantly manage is coffee which falls in this bitter category. I love the tasted could drink it all day but need to remind myself of how it drains my reserves and taxes my adrenals. To balance the heat, my TCM nutritionist suggested I drink 1-2 cups of mint tea each day. This helps to cool my Lesser Yin constitution and the excessive heat in my body. Mint tea is such a refreshing elixir for the heart!
Meditation and Mantra
Even doing a 1 minute meditation with hands on the heart and reciting a heart-felt mantra can help to nourish our spirit. One of my favorite mantras lately, is the Ho’oponopono prayer. It connects me with the tenderness that dwells in the heart and can often bring hope and joy to my perspective. Try it and see how it resonates for you.
Heart Acupressure Point
The heart 7 acupressure point is a powerful sensitive area connected to the heart. It can be found in the crease of your wrist. It lies in line with the space between your ring and pinkie finger. There’s a bone directly in line next to this pressure point. Reflexologists say applying gentle pressure to this spot may protect against anxiety, insomnia, heart palpitations, and depression.
I recommend yin yoga for creating harmony, improving flexibility in the body and aligning with the seasons. Yin yoga is based on the Chinese meridian system, the same system as acupuncture so it offers unique therapeutic benefits. Not surprising, several of my students compare how they feel after my yin yoga class to a needle-less acupuncture session.
Long held passive yoga poses increase and distribute chi to remove blockages in a specific part of the body, and in particular areas that are hard to reach.
In summer the chest and inner arms all the way down into the pinkie finger are most likely to experience stagnation as this is where the heart meridian is located.
My yin yoga classes this summer will nourish the body and spirit for summer. My ‘heart-focused’ yoga sequence activates the heart meridian and heart chakra (anahata) in the upper body to remove blockages and create a harmonic response in the organs.
While we hold the poses we use breath, mantra and psycho-spiritual inquiry to go into those vulnerable places in the heart. As these places are tender, we’ll greet them with love and compassion. In my experience, it’s when I can meet myself sympathetically in the heart is when I feel the greatest healing. I wish the same for you.
Why don’t you join me for a delicious, heart-felt, harmonizing afternoon of Yin Yoga on 7/31/22 at YogaFlow in Noe Valley, SF? Reserve your spot here.