Water Element = Yin Yoga Connection

Water is full of wonder, excitement, healing and relaxing. We are often drawn to the water’s edge for a vacation spot. If you think of your most memorable life moments, were you around water at the time?

Looking outward, we live on a blue planet. Water covers 75% of the world’s surface (the ocean holds 97.5% of the earth’s water which is salt water).  From 1 million miles away, our planet looks like a small blue marble. Makes me think for Earth Day, instead of just planting a tree, maybe also investigate how to support cleaning our oceans too.

Turning inward, we are a blue human! Our bodies as adults are around 60% water and our brain is made up of 80% water.

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever

Jacques Cousteau

How does this relate to Yin Yoga? Part of studying yin, I found that the poses relate to certain meridian lines in the body. These lines not only relate to our organs and their functions, but also map to the Five Daoist Elements (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water & Wood). The elements are all within us and all around us. They are easy to identify with and can be a fun theme for a yoga class.

Chinese Meridian Lines = Kidneys and Urinary Bladder

The Kidneys stores and supplies “Jing” or essence to all of the organs.  The Kidneys control water: sending clear healthy water upward to circulate in the body and reversely sends waters downward for elimination.  Provides digestive fire for the Spleen and warmth to the Heart.  The organs themselves are the last stop for filtration and detoxification of body fluids. 

  • Responsible for determination, creativity, willpower, energy, memory, self-worth, trust, belonging, courage
  • Out of balance = Low creativity and fear.  Knee, low back or joint paint.  Hair loss.  Ear issues.   
  • Balancing activities = Relaxing, moderation, respecting energy level, being gentle to yourself

Yin Poses

  • Inner leg line
    • Release = Butterfly, Straddle, Frog
    • Compression = Shoelace
  • Low Back
    • Release = Forward Folds (Caterpillar, Butterfly, Straddle) & Bridge
    • Compression = Backbends (Sphinx, Seal, Reclined Saddle)
  • Upper chest
    • Release = Supported fish
    • Compression = Forward Folds

Other Attributes

Taste = Salty

Sensory Organ(s) = Ears/Hearing


  • “yu” note; sound of winter and nourishes Kidney yin and reduces Lung fire
  • A in Western musical notation


  • Eastern Stones = Black and Blue; Melanite, spinel, lapis lazuli, aquamarine, topaz, chalcedony and tanzanite
  • Western Stones = Blue, green aqua and teal; Topaz, aquamarine, turquoise, emerald, opal and coral


  • Planet = Mercury
  • Heavenly Creature = Black Tortoise
  • Direction = North
  • Season = Winter
  • Climate = Cold
  • Color = Black
  • Shape = Undulating

Acupressure Related to Water Element & Chinese Meridian Lines

Kidney 3, Taixi or Great Ravine.  Stimulating this point can provide beneficial changes to mood and energy levels.  It also helps low back pain.  Location is on the inside of the ankle joint, just behind and above it.

Related Yoga Videos for Water Element available on Vimeo

Interested in more?  I recommend Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols, I am listening to the audiobook and it is fascinating. It is about our interaction with water and how it promotes happiness. Even just listening to the sound of water calms us down (more here in blog post Water Element = Soothing Sound).

This blog post was generated as part of my yoga thesis paper, so if you need more info on the multiple resources I used to gain this info, please email me at [email protected]. The list of URLs and books was too long to list in this post.

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