Taking Risks to Prevent Qi Stagnation - Root + Bones

Taking Risks to Prevent Qi Stagnation

In the framework of TCM, Summer is associated with the Fire element, characterized by the energetics of growth, expansion, and movement. As we approach the time of peak Yang energy, we may feel a heightened sense of support in clearing stagnation; indeed, the seasonal qualities of heat, brightness, and activation often inspire us toward greater social activity, outdoor adventures, and increased physical movement. It’s important to remember that stagnation isn’t only a biological phenomenon, but can manifest on the emotional and spiritual levels as well. Taking risks can be a wonderful way of stepping out of one’s comfort zone to embrace the spirit of growth this Summer (and beyond!)


Qi stagnation refers to energy that becomes blocked—a primary root cause of health issues in TCM. It is said that where there’s stagnation, there will be pain; this also happens to our spirits when we feel uninspired and stuck, emotionally overburdened, or unaligned with our purpose. Just as each season offers the possibility of elemental healing that can support our physical bodies, finding ways to align with the energetic qualities of each season can likewise nourish our emotional and spiritual bodies. For example, the heat of Summer is an ally for dispersing stagnant Qi and Blood, particularly in areas where blockages tend to accumulate, like the muscles, joints, and organs. Similarly, breaking out of stagnant emotional energy often involves trying something new to increase the circulation of perceived possibilities, thus nurturing a sense of expansiveness. 


Feeling emotionally overburdened can be understood as an ailment of the Heart, which is ultimately tasked with feeling all of our emotions regardless of their corresponding organs. Indicating an accumulation of unprocessed emotions, this is another form of stagnation. Indeed, emotions are a form of Qi, and unprocessed emotions lead to Qi stagnation, which can also manifest as physical ailments. The enhanced physical movement characteristic of the Summer season, which corresponds to the organ system of the Heart, can certainly help provide a somatic release of such emotional accumulations; this is because movement promotes the flow of Qi, helping to alleviate blockages of all sorts. In TCM, the unobstructed flow of Qi is foundational to our smooth functioning… on all levels. Similarly, taking risks often involves overcoming fear and can provide a sense of catharsis—relief from repressed emotions. 


As we all know, balance is crucial to the experience of vibrant health in TCM, found in the dynamic and cyclical dance of polar forces, such as that exemplified by Yin and Yang. Interestingly, Winter represents the peak of Yin energy and corresponds to the emotion of fear. Summer, which represents the peak of Yang energy, corresponds to the emotion of joy. Positioned in essentially the opposite phases of the year, can we follow our joy during Summer to cultivate a healthy relationship with fear for a more balanced Winter? It’s important to also note that the adaptability and resulting resilience that are nourished by this type of practice is one of the best ways we can cultivate and re-cultivate balance. When we are able to weather life’s inevitable storms, to evolve through stress, and to maintain our inner balance in the face of external factors, we are far less susceptible to illness.

Can you think of other ways to promote a sense of expansiveness and flow instead of constriction and stagnation? Harness the energy of Summer and take a chance on yourself, meeting new edges, welcoming new opportunities, and learning new lessons!