Reflections on Water

We are honored and grateful to share a recent submission from one of the incredible healers who is currently a student of Balanced Rock’s WildYoga Teacher Training Program

Artist, herbalist, and explorer Jiling teaches herbal, nature connection, yoga, dance, and other classes around the USA, Taiwan, and China. She’s currently studying Chinese medicine (acupuncture and herbs) at Alhambra Medical University in Los Angeles, completing her 500 hour yoga teacher training through Balanced Rock’s WildYoga Program, and bridging relationships between plants and people through education, clinical work, and creative engagement. You can also read more on Jiling’s personal blog


How is the Water element a guiding principle in your life?

In Chinese medicine, Water is the element of the north, and governs the Kidneys and Bladder. North is a place of the great unknown, that liminal space between birthing and dying, where the Universe spirals back into itself, and spirals back out, creating in mysterious yet powerful ways. My experiences with water buoy me through difficult times in my life. I remember lying on rocks in full sunlight in the middle of river after precious river, feeling simultaneous freedom and exhilaration as I plunge my body into the cold waters of this Earth. I feel the wild power of the great pulsing ocean that I biked alongside for hundreds of miles this summer and slept next to each night, and the hot springs that heated and sanctified all of my cells in the rumbling hot springs of two different continents. I feel the pulsation of rage and sorrow from marching next to then tending the wounds of Water Protectors at Standing Rock last year, and the remaining fires from that water protecting journey, and how they light me up from within. Mni wiconi. Water is life.

Where/how do you experience connection to Water and where/how might you deepen this connection?

My favorite places to live and be are all alongside water. Water is life! Water nourishes our plants, for our food. Water cleanses my body and spirit. Water provides the source for my hydration, tea, and all nourishment. Water composes 60% of my body mass. Water is delightful. I went camping every week this month, twice alongside the San Gabriel River, the primary river that feeds my local watershed of the San Gabriel Mountains. I delight in the river’s song, lulling me to a deep sleep with powerful dreams, under the glistening stars and sliver of moonlight, water-fed trees dancing overhead. Every morning, I wake to splash my face with water, then drink hot tea with hand-picked herbs infused in boiled water. I water my plant babies as I brush my hair before asana practice, kneeling to watch the water sink into the soil, loving each millimeter of growth, sometimes a whole centimeter, that springs up each day, the plants imbibing the water, sun’s rays, and soil’s minerals. I say a prayer of gratitude to every river I come to, with reverence.

I deepen my connection with Water through activism: through sharing tea fed by stories of plants, place, and connection, of where our waters come from, and how to be more responsible in our water use, here in this arid landscape of Los Angeles I call home. I deepen each time I make botanical preparations, each time I go camping, and each time I expose a new heart to the beauties of our local natural environment.

What does the Water element have to do with yoga, and how might you share that with your students? 

I enjoy the flowing nature of vinyasa, of dancing through asanas with fluid sequencing informed and inspired by water, and the free flowing lymph and blood through our bodies. Asana moves qi, which moves blood, awakening and enlivening the entire body, mind, spirit, and being. As I sequence my classes, I note where we flow in and out of movement, and where we hold, then release. Water, being the yin nourishing principle of our lives and bodies, is present in the undercurrent of our entire practice, especially as we flow between asanas. I take us out under the rain on a bridge, mouths open and smiling, eyes closed, pores cleansing. I share ancient stories and songs that inspires tears. Water, the oldest and most powerful medicine-making menstruum, the ancient building block of our sacred special planet, flows thusly through our bodies and practices, and onwards back into the substratum of the Universe, and back into the Earth.

One of Jiling’s favorite water photos from a special river spot in New Mexico.




Leave a Comment