Do you find yourself feeling less energetic, caught in a cycle of negative thinking, feeling like you aren’t able to cope with life and afraid of change? Or maybe you're experiencing a diminished feeling of personal power within?
Something feels off inside, yet you can’t quite figure out to make it stop, because everything just feels so overwhelming and off balance.
Stress and Holistic Imbalance
These feelings can be a by-product of our busy lives and worlds, that constant need to stay ahead and be the best. Its effect can be incredibly damaging on our minds and bodies, and can be instrumental in damaging our relationships with those closest to us.
By accepting stress into our worlds, we are inviting an imbalance in our lives, which can interfere with our ability to stay calm, focused, positive, and grateful for the present moment. Without taking care of ourselves first, we cannot hope to be to both give and receive love and compassion.
By contrast, when we’re relaxed, we free up precious energy to use for positive, inspiring activities that help us feel light, happy, better able to take care of ourselves and those closest.
Chinese Medicine and Yoga
Both yoga and Chinese medicine believe that physical existence is brought to life by a dynamic energy system that is the source of all manifestation.
This chi (energy) is known as the vital force of all life, which flows through our bodies in invisible pathways called meridians (Chinese system) or nadis (Indian), flowing through our tissues and bones, moistening the joints.
The strength and flow of this energy is essential for living a harmonious life with balance in body and mind. Energy that is weak is called deficient chi, and energy that is blocked is called stagnant chi. Healthy chi flows comfortably throughout the body!
In Chinese medicine, the function of the organs is not measured only by the anatomical roles that they play, but also by their energetic makeup.
Your Kidney-Bladder Meridians
The kidney-bladder pairs of meridians and organs are the foundations of Yin and Yang balance for all of our other organs. They are fundamental for birth and reproduction so as women, they are something we really need to take care of.
The kidneys act as a “I can do anything” transformer when our energy is low, working overtime, when we are stressed, or overcommitted yet continue to work through until we reach exhaustion — which in turn depletes our kidney chi.
Kidney Chi is associated with all kinds of fear, while a balanced kidney chi gives us access to calmness, openness and our innate wisdom. With our mental qualities, the kidneys are associated with short-term memory, willpower and health ambition.
If our chi is deficient we may have trouble completing tasks, have less energy, low sex drive and less enthusiasm for life.
The kidney meridian's influence on our body-mind is connected with the limbic system housed near our brain, which controls sleep cycles, appetite and libido, encouraging motivation and setting the emotional tone of the mind.
Learning how to create appropriate rhythms for our life of balance, we can develop a regular yoga practice that is geared towards self-healing.
Where are these meridians in my body?
- Kidney – runs along the inside of the legs into the groin, where they combine in the sacrum before rising up inside the body along the line of the spine.
- Bladder – runs along the back of the legs and branch into two lines running up each side of the spine.
How Yin Yoga Can Help
Yin yoga gives us the opportunity to hit reset and welcome a healthy dose of self-love into our world.
We hold the yoga poses for 3-5 minutes, allowing ourselves to breathe into our bodies, witness what comes up, train ourselves to sit with discomfort in the knowledge that it is temporary and move towards a practice of opening up to challenges rather than struggling with difficulty or hard times.
Taking time out of a manic schedule, and making yourself your number one priority will welcome calmness into your world.
3 Principles of a Yin Yoga Practice
- Come into the pose to your appropriate edge (no muscle engagement)
- Come to a place of stillness and surrender to the moment
- Hold the pose for a while: 3 -5 minutes
Yin Yoga Poses
- Bring the soles of your feet together, dropping knees out to the side.
- Choosing to either fold forward or lie back onto a bolster along length of your spine
- Lie on your belly; bring forearms to the ground with elbows directly under shoulders.
- Allow yourself to rest upward without slumping into shoulders.
- Allow buttocks and legs to relax
Full Forward Fold
- Bring your legs out straight ahead (sitting on block if needed for tight hamstrings or lower back muscles)
- Begin to bend forward allowing your spine to curve into a forward fold
- You can use cushions under knees or bend knees slightly if needed or suffer from sciatica
- Sitting upright, spread legs as wide as you comfortably can (cushions under knees or bend knees if needed)
- Slowly starting to curl through the spine as you fold forward
- Pose can also be done lying on your back with legs against a wall
Lying Spinal Twist
- Lie on your back with knees bent, feet to the ground and arms parallel to top of mat
- On exhale allow knees to drop over to one side (cushions under knees if don’t touch ground)
Legs up the Wall
- Lie on your back with bottom touching wall and legs straight up against the wall
Finally, to seal your practice with calmness, go into Savasana.
This can be the most calming part of your whole practice, putting the body completely at ease and emphasizing a state of deep rest that slows the breathing, lowers blood pressure, while quieting the nervous system.