Water Element in TCM

The Water Element in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the most Yin of the 5 Elements. Water is flexible and strong, flowing and still. Water can move around obstacles and takes the shape of the container it's in. It's going with the Flow of Life. Our Water Element can be both Yin & Yang, representing both the cresting wave and the bubbling brook.

Water is the Winter Season, the cold, dark and quiet at the bottom of the ocean. It's the beginning of life and the space of introspection where we plant the seeds of our dreams. Water is our wisdom, our willpower, our deep sense of Self.

Water types can be more introverted and enjoy their alone time. They are creative, wise, reflective, observant, and sensitive.

The Water Element is associated with the Kidneys & the Bladder.

The emotion associated with water is fear. Other water emotions are indecisiveness and uncertainty. Water types succeed by not allowing fear to block the fullest expression of creativity. The challenge for water types is to overcome their fears and become active participants in life. The positive emotion of the kidneys is willpower, so when kidney energy is strong we will have willpower and live life with focus and direction. When kidney energy is weak we are susceptible to fear and anxiety.

The kidneys are the foundation of our yin and yang energies, store our Jing (or essence) and govern vital activities like birth, growth, reproduction and development. The kidneys are said to open into the ears, thus our ability to hear clearly is dependent on strong kidney energy. The kidneys also govern bones, teeth, hair on the head, the nervous system and brain.

Winter is the best time of year to build up kidney energy. It is a time for a contraction of energies and introspection. Winter is a time to rest, going to bed earlier and waking later. The diet should consist of hearty, warming foods, like soups and stews. The first point on the kidney meridian is on the bottom of the foot, so walking and running stimulates this point and floods the body with kidney energy – so regular exercise, especially outside is great for your kidneys.

Water Element in deficiency (not enough Water): pain in the lower back & knees, insomnia, night sweats, anxiety, feeling “tired & wired”, false heat in the body

Water Element in excess (too much Water): fatigue, weakness, cold limbs, low back ache, poor appetite, manic depression, water retention, lack of drive

To Balance Excess Water, bring in some Earth Element (see the 5 Element Wheel here).

Balancing Foods: Salty foods, foods that are purple/ black/ blue

Beans of all kinds, seaweed and sea vegetables, Soy Sauce and Tamari, miso, figs, blueberries, blackberries, eggplant, kale, wild rice, walnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are water foods. These foods have a softening effect and promote moisture and calming of the body. They most benefit thin, dry and nervous people. (From 5elementfood.blogspot.com)

Yoga Asana for the Water Element will involve the meridian lines from the drawings above, so think forward folds and gentle heart openers- these can be done standing, seated, or reclined. These pictures are 3 of my favorite Yin postures for the Kidneys and the Bladder.

For more information, check out my reference page here, plus any of these great books... "Wood Becomes Water" by Gail Reichstein, "Power of the 5 Elements" by Charles Moss, "The Five Elements" by Dondi Dahlin, and "The Energy Medicine Yoga Prescription" by Lauren Walker.

Information is compiled from my training, along with various web resources.

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