As the days become longer and brighter again, all of nature stirs from her winter hibernation.  The cheerful sounds of twittering birds return to our gardens, vibrant crocuses and snowdrops carpet our city parks, and the sweet fragrance of hyacinths and double daffodils  wafting through the morning breeze caress our senses.   Spring has sprung into life and the yin cycle of winter’s silence and inactivity is now making  way for a fresh new start. 

The natural energy of spring is an upward movement that also moves freely outwards.  This is the rising life force, from within the depths of the trees roots, that push upwards to nourish all of its branches and leaves.  In TCM springtime is thus associated with the Wood element.  From the dormancy of winter, spring marks the ascension of life energy upwards, sudden growth, rapid expansion and an uprising power that bursts through all of nature.    

Like nature, we also enter a cycle of renewal, rejuvenation and rebirthing in our lives.   Spring is the season for us to grow spiritually and emotionally, to be carried by the winds of change and creativity as we map out a new course of direction for the next stage in our lives. 

THE WOOD ELEMENT:  Officials of Planning and Decision Making

In TCM the Wood element represents the liver and gall bladder.  But, as in each of the five elements, the internal organs are much more than physical structures.  The wood element is a complex system which also involve aspects of the mind,  our emotions and spirit.  The liver and gall bladder not only have a physiological function, they also have functions at the invisible level of vital energy, or Qi, which have a strong influence on our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. 

In TCM the liver function is called the Official of Strategic Planning, the great architect for our vision for the future.  When functioning well, we can clearly see the directions we must take in our lives,  what needs releasing, and sense when our plans and actions are in harmony with nature and who we are at the core of our being.

The companion of the Official of Strategic planning is the Gall Bladder, called the Official of Decision Making, and is responsible for giving us the ability to make clear and wise choices and judgments.  When both officials are functioning in a balanced and harmonious way in our bodies, emotions, and spirit, we are able to see new possibilities, be inspired and clear in following the right course of action that is truly good for us.    But when the Wood element is imbalanced in either deficient or over dominating states, then our natural ease in moving forward becomes thwarted or blocked.  The feeling of stagnation or being stuck can then lead to frustration, irritability, anger, intolerance and stress that are disruptive sources of disharmony in our relationships with ourselves and others. 


In nature, we notice that wood is healthy when it is both strong but also flexible.  The image of bamboo, which grows fast, stands tall and yet remains supple and adaptable to the assault of strong winds, is a good example of a healthy and strong Wood element.   Like bamboo swaying in the wind and remaining upright, a balanced Wood element enables us to withstand the winds of pressure and change in life’s outer circumstances and conditions, no matter how tumultuous the storms are.   

We can notice imbalances of the Wood element in ourselves in the tendency to judge or blame ourselves or others too harshly, of being perpetually edgy and irritable, of feeling intolerant when people are too slow, when we feel indecisive and spaced out by too many choices, or when we feel a lot of internal stress building up.

Some of the physical issues associated with Wood imbalances include chronic muscle tension (especially in the neck and back), headaches, digestive problems, irregularities in menstruation and fertility, and high blood pressure. 


As the liver organ system is about the smooth flow of qi, blood and emotions, regular movement is important to prevent stagnation, which is a major problem in our modern sedentary and stress-filled lives.   It is a good habit to go for regular walks in nature, where the green colour of living plants in the forests and parks nourish, harmonize, and relax us.

But a regular qigong practice will also be very helpful!   Both dynamic practices to energetically break through sluggishness and stagnation,  as well as gentle movements and stretches that restore flexibility and harmonious balance to the body-mind are very supportive during not only this time of the year, but as a way of setting the stage for the warmer months of summer when the fire element becomes dominant. 

Our Seasons of the Breath self -healing classes will be a good support for this!   See our dates and times and write to us for more information and to register if this speaks to you!