The Importance of the Metal Element in Autumn

This time of year is associated with the metal element. During the Fall months the weather cools and the plants turn inward.  At this time of year the plants wither, the leaves fall to the ground. The metal element in Chinese Five Element Theory represents the process of moving from activity and growth to dormancy, and from yang to yin. Like the element metal, at this time of year, substances become concentrated, they retract, condense, shrink, and freeze.

Similarly at this time of year, rest and relaxation are essential for immunity, renewal and emotional balance.  This is the time of year to support the metal element inside our bodies. For instance, going to bed early and getting up at dawn will help conserve the body’s chi. Only by conserving our spirit, doing regular deep practice and eating nutritious foods are we able to cope with the change in weather.
Specifically, practicing pranayama at this time will help strengthen your lung chi and harmonize your internal rhythms. The lungs are the organs associated with the metal element. Pranayamas like kapalabhati, which involve slow inhalation and vigorous exhalation, activate the lungs by dispelling stagnant chi. Bhastrika (bellows breath) generates prana to activate the entire body while building respiratory immunity.
Your yoga-asana practice should include pavritta (revolved) poses which help circulate and increase prana in the lungs. Additionally, include regular inversions and inclining asanas. Inversions help purge the body of impurities and infuse the body with radiance. They also bring strength, firmness, and clarity of mind.

Since the fall and the metal element involve an inward turning, the practice of pratyahara is appropriate this time of year as it helps draw the mind and heart inward. By quieting the senses one nourishes the deep life force within. This leads to a clear connection to the divine.

In terms of diet, for the metal element, include warming and pungent flavors in your food preparation. Do you experience dryness and cold this time of year?  If so, choose warming and dispersive foods to circulate energy. The following ingredients help expel toxins and stagnant chi: ginger, garlic, mustard greens, seeds, grapefruit peel, cilantro, parsnips, turnips, scallions, basil, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, cayenne, rosemary, thyme. Also drink plenty of warm fluids such as soups, porridges and tea. Important teas this time of year are elderberry tea, ginger tea, chai, and dandelion tea.  When cooking it is important to prepare dishes that build resistance and vitality. I recommend white fish, chickpeas, daikon radish, leeks, basmati and brown rice, cabbage, burdock root, turnips, white beans, cilantro, dandelion, apples, pears, and bitter melon. I like to include herbs that help boost immunity and generate warmth in the body: ginger, kudzu, osha root, yarrow, garlic, and astragulus. In order to boost a healthy immune function, regularly check in and ask yourself what your body needs in order to support your body’s optimum vitality.
Blessings …may harmony and peace prevail!

Creamy Turnip
The healing power of this soup will help you warm up from the inside out and boost your  immune system. When you slowly simmer foods  over low heat, you gently leach out the energetic and therapeutic properties of the foods,  and preserve the nutritional value of the foods, making it easier for your body to assimilate the nutrients.
So cook slowly and enjoy this nourishing soup!

  • coconut oil
  • 2 lbs Turnips
  • 1 -2 yellow onions
  • 1 leek
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 potato
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • bay leaf

Heat in a heavy–bottom pan over medium heat:
¼ cup of coconut oil
Add:
1 large onion, finely chopped, cook until carmelized
Add:
2 carrots, washed and diced, cook until softened
Add:
4  medium turnips, washed and diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
Cook for 15 minutes or until tender. Then add:
garlic, coarsely chopped
5 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon of oregano
2 teaspoons of salt
Cook for 5 minutes longer. Add, and bring to a boil:
6 cups of shitake broth
Once boiling, add:
1 small leek, diced
Lower heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about thirty minutes. When done, season with salt to taste, remove bay leaf and purée until creamy.
Garnish with sizzling sautéed greens and enjoy!

Shitake Stock
This simple and versatile stock works well as the basis of almost any type of soup, stew, or sauce. Besides the great taste, shitake offers powerful healing properties that support  good immune function.

  • 4-5 shitake mushrooms
  • 6 cups of water

Soak the shitake for 15 to 20 minutes in a 3-quart pot before bringing to a boil.
Reduce the heat and gently simmer for 15 minutes. If time allows, let the shitake steep in the liquid for 3o minutes. Remove shitake and reserve for another use.

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