Your practical guide to yin yoga & traditional Chinese medicine
The Origin of Traditional Chinese Medicine
A fundamental principle of the Chinese system of medicine is that the human body-mind-spirit spectrum is a holistic one. As humans, we are intrinsically linked to our outside worlds from family, society, environment, and ultimately to the Universe. Based on this view, all manifestation of diseases is viewed as an outcome of an imbalance originating within oneself or in one’s relationship to the external reality.
The Dao and Yin- Yang Philosophy
“Writings do not express words clearly, words do not express thoughts clearly”; “ thus the sages created images to express thoughts clearly.” - LaoZi
The terms Dao (or Tao), Yin and Yang are images created by ancient sages to depict their insights into reality. The word Dao is used to embrace the eternal primordial source also called the Void, as well as the potential from which all things arise. There are two sides of the Dao. In its passive state, the Dao is empty and non-doing; while in its active state the Dao is seen to create and propel reality and all its enterprises.
Building upon the concept of Dao, the ancient sages created a dualistic phenomenon called Yin-Yang to describe the natural tendencies arise in nature. The terms Yin and Yang mean the dark and lighter sides of a mountain respectively, gradually extended to refer to the principle of duality inherent in all manifestation. There are four primary principles explain the dynamic interplay between the Yin and Yang in traditional Chinese medicine:
1. All phenomena contain two innate opposing aspects.
2. Yin and Yang are co-dependent. One cannot exist without the other.
3. Yin and Yang nurture each other.
4. Between Yin-Yang there exists a transformative potential.
Taiji (The Supreme Ultimate) represents the infinite, ultimate state of transformation. Visualize this symbol in 3-Dimensions. Within the Yin there is always some Yang and vice versa.
Examples of Yin and Yang using the analogies of water/fire:
The Twelve Regular Meridians
“ The meridians move the Qi (energy) and Blood, regulate the Yin and Yang, moisten the tendons and the Bones, and benefits the joints…”
The meridians are energetic channels that carry Qi or energy. When we die, the energy channels die as well. There are no anatomical structures to these channels and can only be felt through our subtle senses and self-inquiry.
The meridian system has five primary functions:
1. Animates the body
2. Keeps the organs up
3. Warms the body
4. Protects the body from external influences
5. Transforms one substance to another
The twelve regular meridians connect internally to the Organs and externally to the surface of the skin. Each meridian is distributed bilaterally and is named after its respective associated Organ. The meridians are also divided equally into Yin or Yang groups and are associated with different emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety, worry, and excitement.
The regular meridians are often used for physical/emotional healing purposes, as commonly used in acupuncture or acupressure. When practiced correctly, you can stimulate the meridian through thoughts, touch, and movement.
Yin Yoga as Acupressure
In Yin Yoga, the poses act as a pressuriser stimulating different meridians along the body. When practicing Yin, we apply gentle pressure over an extended period (from 3-5 minutes or more). Similar to squeezing a garden hose, the pressure increases inside the tube, and upon releasing the hose, the water pressure pushes through the hose removing any toxins inside. When we hold a yin pose, we dissipate any energetic stagnation by compressing the body tissues where the meridian are located.
You can also stimulate the meridians in other activities such as walking, massage, dynamic yoga, climbing, etc. However, the most significant aspect of yin is that it requires us to still our mind and body. Through stillness, we can observe the nature of the mind and perhaps seek a deeper understanding of our life beyond the physical self.
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