The Water element corresponds to the winter season, where everything slows down, stillness reigns, and we retreat from the outside world. At that time of the year it is quite normal and in the ancient traditions to do less, reduce activity, stay indoor more, and let tranquility take over. This is why the Water element regenerates mainly through rest.
One of the main qualities that the water element gives us is WILLPOWER. Just like water flows downstream in a river, falls from a waterfall, or crashes on the shores like a wave, this element gives us the ability to move forward effortlessly. If we lose our willpower and that water energy/quality, everything we do becomes an effort. Fear is not tangible, but simply a lack of will that stops us, paralyses us, makes us hesitate, and eventually takes over our ability to act and move forward. In winter we naturally feel the need to hibernate, rest, stay at home more and restore our energy. Nature acts in accordance with this energy, it doesn’t criticise itself for taking the time to rest and knows the time to move will come again and it will bloom into its full and amazing beauty again when spring comes.
The nature of water
Picture this: When the Water hits the ground, it stops there and starts gathering, eventually creating a pool of water, which leads to the water forming a structure. Water sucks into everything and is everything. Therefore Water becomes structure.
Water comes in many forms and adapts to its environment: freezing, evaporating, rippling calmly, raging into tsunamis or slowly eroding it’s obstacles over time, to get where it needs to be. This transformative and adaptive quality is the feeling we all have at this time of year to be something a little different, a little better following autumn in which things perhaps become clearer. We know who we are and what form we want to take to adapt and be happier, better versions of ourselves.
If a person has a balanced Water element, he or she is motivated, wise, courageous, takes their time and thinks clearly. Without this balance we might become fearful, lazy, timid/reckless, overactive and irrational.
In order to balance our Water energy we should rest, have plenty of minerals in our diet (such as seaweeds, gomasio, good quality salt and root vegetables), receiving a Shiatsu, gentle exercising (Yoga therapy and restorative yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Ba Gua), swimming, taking baths, meditation or walks near the sea, a lake or pond.
Kidney – The yin aspect
The kidney is the YIN organ of this element. The Kidneys’ job is to guard the body against danger, and if your life is threatened they will go into “alert mode”, releasing a dose of adrenaline in the bloodstream in order to relax the body. Even though they aren’t supposed to do much, we are so threatened or stressed all the time that they end up doing a lot. The Kidney energy is our life force, it also represents the male’s sperm strength.
The kidney function
The Kidney function does not only include the kidney organ, it also includes the bones, nails, testicles, the instep and the big toe. Kidney is source of vigour, it controls resistance to stress and volition (in the hara the kidney area includes the tanden, or Dantian).
The Kidney meridian is closely related to the internal secretions such as sex hormones. Note that, for men, sexual excess leads to the kidney energy becoming deficient (sexual vigour is exhausted). In traditional eastern medicine and practices, it is well known that as men age, they should save their kidney energy more and more preciously by ejaculating less and less.
Location of Kidney 1
The “Ki” of the universe enters the body via KI1, which relates to the kidneys being closely related to longevity and ageing. The classics note the relationship between the state of the Ki of the kidneys and age. The hair, bones, the teeth, and the pupils of the eyes all belong to the kidney meridian, and they all deteriorate with age. Ageing starts with the weakening of the kidney meridian, and following that the physical organs start to weaken.
The Chinese try to keep a healthy kidney meridian, heighten/nurture their Ki, and thus control the ageing process.
Another function that the Kidney gives us is the water balance in the ears. People who have tinnitus (ringing in the ears) usually have an imbalance/disturbance in their kidney meridian (energy rises up too high and ringing starts to occur). Lastly, two other important functions the kidney governs are urine production and fluid excretion (both working together to purify our system from toxins).
The most common Kidney symptoms are:
Lower back discomfort
Dark rings under the eyes (working too hard)
As the Kidneys get worse the patient gets darker (skin colour)
Stress (Kidney is about protection, adrenals)
Fear of doing things (hesitation in doing things, doing becomes an effort, ability to persist in tasks is lost)
Bone density problems (hairs/nails are splitting), brittle bones
The Bladder – The Yang aspect
The Bladder is a very tight and strong little tiny ball that sucks water and acid into it. It is one of the most Yang thing in our bodies, sitting deep down next to the anus. It doesn’t have any pump, but draws liquid through osmosis (diffusion of fluids through membranes). “The Bladder energy contains the Kidney strength”: meaning that the body is like a cup maintaining the water. It keeps the shape of the water. The Bladder is holding the water of the Kidney’s life force. Chinese medicine calls it Qi; the Japanese call it Ki.
As it builds up it expands and it reaches homeostasis, it reaches it’s equivalent. But if the Bladder is weak, it will get very little strength in itself, very little density and it will only suck in very little fluid and acid. Because it has a little density and it is supposed to be Yang, it can only squeeze out a little bit: the feeling relating to this is to wee a lot with a feeling of having a little bit left.
The heel, the little toe, the are part of the Bladder function. The Bladder holds the spine in the back of the body and the spine holds the organs.
Some common symptoms of a weak Bladder:
Urinary weakness and insomnia are the two most common complaints.
Female sterility and other gynaecological problems (the womb is an organ positioned on the Bladder meridian). Usually, sterile women will have severely stiff hips, and a recessed sacral vertebrae.
The Bladder governs all the round things in our body: the heels, the sacrum, the buttocks, the back of the head, the skull, the uterus, and the Bladder (basically all the bowls of water). The meridian starts in the inner corner of the eyebrows and goes all the way down the back of the body, ending it the little toes.
The Bladder is needed to assimilate experiences, and its function is about long-term memory.
Water element therapy & yoga poses
Headstand: Bring the mind to the waist in order to balance. Headstand is about finding balance between the front and the back, the left and the right. If you are unfocused and tensed, you won’t be able to do it, you will panic and then lose balance. Use the wall to begin. You have to be able to drag your feet and with control lift the knees into your chest WITHOUT kicking!
Cobra: best exercise to develop the kidney function because you HAVE to relax in the pose in order to stay in it and do it properly.
Forward stretch: the proper way to it with a straight spine and not rounding the back, and try to lengthen the head towards your feet and not taking it down to your knees
All the very strong exercises of Kidney & Bladder are for balancing, mainly the Kidney ones
grabbing the big toes and pulling them UP is also great to involve the Kidney meridian