The Five Elements Framework and How It Can Improve Your Health

The Five Element Framework is ancient and deeply woven into the fabric of Chinese culture. Five Element theory is the foundation of Chinese disciplines such as feng shui, the martial arts, and the I Ching (The Book of Changes); and it provides a comprehensive template that organizes all natural phenomena into five master groups or patterns or phases in nature: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water.

From a health enhancement and medical perspective, the Five Element Framework provides a master blueprint that diagrams how nature interacts with the body and how the different dimensions of our being impact each other, as well as a diagnostic framework to recognize where imbalances in the body, mind, emotions, and spirit lie.

The Five Elements include the five Yin organs – Lung, Kidney, Liver, Heart, Spleen (and their corresponding Yang organs: Large Intestine, Bladder, Gall Bladder, Small Intestine, and Stomach respectively) – and address the interconnected relationships between them. Within Medical Qigong and Classical Chinese Medicine, we can treat disease and illness – and sometimes even acute issues such as pain – associated with each organ (or organ system) through specific energetic treatments, exercises, and food or supplement recommendations.

As a Medical Qigong practitioner, I often teach my patients a special set of exercises called the Wu Xing Jing, or Five Elements Health Form. Each exercise in the Five Elements Form is targeted to a specific organ system and helps to support, regulate, and balance that organ.

The version of the Wu Xing Jing I usually teach is actually a Dao Yin form. Dao Yin exercises are about how you can stretch and make the body become supple through therapeutic awareness of the movements as you are doing them. They are very similar to Qigong exercises; however they were developed thousands of years ago and are thought to be precursors to Qigong. Certain Dao Yin forms have come down to us from ancient times and are still practiced today, although they may not be as well-known and therefore not as widely taught as Qigong.

These exercises work through the principle of Yin and Yang, in that when something reaches its extreme, it’s going to take on its counterpart. When something becomes too Yang, it becomes Yin, and vice versa. Through these exercises you are taking something to the state of full contraction or extension, then returning it back to its opposite. This has physiological benefits, helps move the Qi or internal energy to where it’s needed (or moves it away from where it is excessive), helps heal or maintain health of the organs, and opens up the energy pathways of the body.

By the way, if you are interested in learning more about the Five Elements / Wu Xing Jing Dao Yin Form, click here.

In my next post, I’ll explain how we apply the Five Element Framework specifically to the current season, Spring, and its associated element and organ, Wood / Liver. We’ll discuss the physical and emotional health aspects of Liver and how best to support your Liver and overall health, especially now that Spring Has Sprung!

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