The Great Yang Season
Enjoy the Fire energy of Summer, but know how to keep it under control when you need to simmer down!
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a framework for viewing our health within the context of the natural world
You can learn to manage the heat and fire of Summer by understanding the TCM perspective on the season.
This perspective is based in Taoism, an ancient Chinese philosophy focusing on how to exist in harmony with the universe.
Yang energy is bright, fiery and hot like the midday sun. Yang is the counterbalance to Yin. Yin is expressed in the cooling, calming energies of life. Together, Yin and Yang, like night and day, represent the dynamic balance between the complementary forces that make up all of existence in a sacred dance of life’s cycles.
The cycle of the seasons is a perfect demonstration of the balance of Yin and Yang in motion
When we turn the corner into Summer, we reach a pinnacle in the cycle – the Summer Solstice. Summer is known as the “Great Yang” season because of this peak in the yang energy. When the sun (ultimate yang energy) is closest to the earth and the day (yang time) is the longest in the year.
In the Taoist view, these forces exist within us just as they do in our external environment. With each season, TCM offers guidance for tuning our own energy cycles to those in the natural world around us. So we can live in health and harmony.
TCM associates the season of Summer with the Fire Element and the Heart and Small Intestine organ systems
For more details about TCM, Five Elements Theory and the season of Summer, please see “The Heart and Small Intestine According to Traditional Chinese Medicine.”
The Pericardium and the Triple Burner help you manage the heat and fire of Summer
Within TCM, Summer corresponds with two additional organ systems that play supporting roles in the balance and maintenance of the Fire Element in the body. These are the Pericardium and the Triple Burner (San Jiao), which Western medicine does not consider to be organs.
The Pericardium is the protective membrane that surrounds and protects the Heart. The Triple Burner (San Jiao), while lacking a Western medical analogous structure, is a conceptual framework for three areas of the body – the upper, middle and lower burner, or jiao. Each jiao integrates the organ systems within its area.
Both the Pericardium and the Triple Burner energetic systems play roles in the regulation and circulation of warmth in the body, and have energetic pathways, called meridians or channels, along both arms. For more about the Triple Burners, see “The Spleen and Stomach According to Traditional Chinese Medicine.”
While there are other channels that run along the arms (namely the Lung and Large Intestine meridians, associated with the Metal Element and Autumn), having all four Fire Element channels coursing through the arms is more than enough reason to focus some attention on this part of our body in the Summer.
Stretches you can do to circulate energy through the Fire Element channels
One way to manage Summer fire and heat is by simply stretching and moving the arms to awaken and energize those channels for seasonal health!
Stretch your hands all the way to the tips of the fingers (where the channels begin, end and connect). Stretch your arms and body to feel the stretch throughout your chest, back and shoulder joint, activating your Small Intestine and Triple Burner channels. Get on the floor and relax in a star shaped stretch and make sure to feel the opening of energy in your armpits where the Heart and Pericardium channels travel through.
Turning down the heat – acupressure points to use
Fuel your fire this summer and let it burn! Remember these points when you need a moment to simmer down.
We can think of the Fire Element as the energy correlated with consciousness and warmth (among other things). The Fire Element requires maintenance to keep it in balance, like a campfire that must be fed and also controlled.
During the Summer months, sunshine, activity, community, and the joy of the season naturally nourish the Fire Element. But any of these in excess can overwhelm us.
Important acupressure points to know when you feel overheated or over-stimulated are Heart 8 (HT 8) and Pericardium 6 (PC 6).
- To locate HT 8, make a loose fist and where your pinky tip touches your palm is the spot. Dig in gently to cool your jets.
- PC 6 is a great point for anxiety, or when you feel like you just need to calm down and get centered. Make a fist, squeeze, and notice the two tendons along the center of your forearm. You’ll find PC 6 about three finger spaces below the wrist crease, between those tendons. Side note: this point is also good for nausea and motion sickness.
Turning down the heat – dietary recommendations
There are many foods that can help you cool down if you are overheating. For a list of options and more information, see “Eating for the Season: TCM and Summer.”