Yin organ: liver
Element: wood
Colour: spring green
Sense organ: eyes
Tissues: tendons, ligaments, connective tissue
Acquired emotions: anger, frustration, irritability, resentment, envy
Natural virtues: compassion, patience, generosity, creativity, decisiveness

In the spring, the liver’s energies are at their peak, which is why it’s the perfect time to work with a focus on the liver. In the way of nature (the Dao), it is a time of new life and growth of plants. In the physical and energy bodies, spring is also a time for new growth and expansive energies. It is a time to blossom and express ourselves, including our creativity and our emotions.

In the Daoist philosophy the liver is known as the “tree of life.” The tree symbolizes the wood element with its roots reaching deep into the earth while at the same time its branches stretch toward the sun. A tree’s stability and flexibility are also characteristics of the liver. A tree is rooted, or grounded, but can bend in the wind. The liver’s meridians maintain the health of the body’s tendons, ligaments, muscles, and connective tissue, helping to keep us resilient and flexible and allowing Qi to move within and through us.

Physically, just as trees emit cleansing oxygen, the liver is a major detoxifying organ, and controls the circulation and storage of blood. Energetically, the liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi in the whole body. Spiritually, the liver is related to inner spiritual sight.

Blocks or imbalance in the liver and its meridians are often related to headaches, allergies, menstrual irregularities, digestive ailments, high blood pressure, arthritis, muscle weakness or stiffness, uneven emotions, fatigue, resistance, and vision problems. Anger can be a helpful emotion, but not if one is stuck in it or has an excess of it.

The heart benefits from work with the liver because wood is the “mother” of fire (heart/summer) in the creation cycle. In other words, summer is born from spring and wood generates fire, which means liver health is directly related to heart health. The liver’s function is to cool (soothe) the heart, but if there is not enough blood and energy for the liver to do its job, the heart suffers with excess heat resulting in hot emotion and anxiety. For the liver to do its job, its own “mother” the kidneys, our energy batteries, must be nourished and healthy.

Flowing and balanced liver Qi helps us to make sound decisions, put our plans into action without procrastination, and be flexible and able to adapt and change. We have a vision and are able to walk our unique path without blindly following what others think or want. We are able to be compassionate, creative, and kind and patient with ourselves and others.

In our Spring Qigong and Dao Yoga series of classes, we will use meditation, Qi self-massage, Dao yoga and breathing, and flowing movement to gently cleanse and renew the liver and the whole body. We will focus on the health of the sinews and eyes, express and move the energy of anger in a healthy way, and invite in the compassion, kindness, and creativity that this season and organ offer.

Spring is a fresh and exciting time to practice, with so many relaxing and balancing rewards.


© Sandra Tonn