Yin Yoga

What Is An Emotional Edge And Why Do We Need To Respect it?

Emotional edge, what is that?

Annie Au Yin Yoga Teacher Training 2020

 

For many seasoned Yin yogis, you might be quite familiar with the physical edge. A famous analogy of the physical edge is the Panda vs. Black Knight. As famously coined by the founder of modern Yin yoga Paul Grilley, the Pandas are students who never lean enough into their physical edge in a Yin posture, thus never receiving the benefits of Yin yoga (the works of Yin yoga is to stimulate our connective tissues through passive hold over time). On the contrary, the Black Knights are those who believe in the mantra ‘No pain, no gain.’ They are the students that Yin teachers need to look out for, as they tend to push beyond their physical edges and put themselves at high risk for injuries.

So what about the emotional edge? What exactly is it?

Ever done a practice where you’re on the verge of crying? You might be feeling emotional that day or you’ve been going through some hardships in life. We’ve all been there. There are also times where you don’t even know where the tears are coming from, but they’re there. This, my friend, is our emotional edge. It’s an abstract line that divides you from experience hard human emotions. For some people, forward folds trigger anxiety and for others hip-openers are the doorway to sadness. It could also be irrelevant to the poses; you’re just feeling all the feels that particular day.

While we’re practicing, we must respect our emotional edge the way we respect our physical edge. Imagine our uncomfortable feelings are our connective tissues. We lean in just enough to maximize awareness and stimulate growth. We check in with ourselves to see what our emotional landscape is that day, and how we can navigate our discomforts through self-acceptance. If we never lean in, we’re always lingering superficially and never go to the depths where our highest potential awaits us.  On the other hand, if we over step our emotional edge, we are damaging our psyche and abandoning self-love.

Respecting our emotional edge is an act of non-violence (Ahimsa). We learn through our Yin yoga practice how to create healthy boundaries for ourselves. Overtime, you’d see that the awareness you have in your practice would transfer to everything you do in life. Establishing a symbiotic relationship with our intimate partner, family/friends, and coworkers requires us to respect our emotional needs and set clear boundaries.

Everything starts with us. Begin on the mat and slowly out into the world.

 

Namaste & LOVE

Annie

Releasing Anger and Restoring Love Through Yin Yoga Twisting Postures  

by Annie Au

In this modern world, we as human beings are often trapped in the pendulum of love and hate. As we may have experienced, the flip side of love is a raging river of anger and jealousy, flowing through us often unapologetically. Based on the meridian system in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), love flows through the Heart meridian while anger runs in the Liver meridian. When our Heart and Liver energies are balanced, we express compassion to all beings and are passionate about life. Conversely when energy stagnates in these channels, our heart and liver contract replacing love with explosive anger and irritation.

Interestingly, there is an essential muscle that connects the anatomical heart and liver in our body. This critical muscle is our diaphragm. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped sheet of muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. It is the primary muscle that the body uses when breathing. The top part of the diaphragm is connected to a small sac called the pericardium, which protects and holds the heart in place. The bottom part of the diaphragm is connected to the liver. According to the meridian system, promoting healthy flow of energy in the actual organ as well as its orbs of energetic influence is absolutely crucial in maintaining health and wellness.

The heart sits on top of the diaphragm, while the liver is tucked under the diaphragm on the right side under the rib cage.

The heart sits on top of the diaphragm, while the liver is tucked under the diaphragm on the right side under the rib cage.

 

Twisting postures help release tension in the diaphragm. Sequentially, by releasing the diaphragm, we also indirectly massage and soften the heart and liver. As you try out these poses, visualize all the negative thoughts and emotions exiting the body. In return, the vacated negative emotions are replaced by contentment and joy.

Reclining twists (5 minutes per side)

Lie down on your back and shift the pelvis to the right slightly. Draw the right knee towards the chest and slowly bring it to left side of the body. Keep the right arm parallel to the shoulder and the head facing the ceiling.

 

*Keep the head facing the ceiling helps prevent blood stop in the arteries along the neck. This is especially important in yin yoga practice where we hold a posture for several minutes.

releasing Anger and Restoring Love Through Yin Twisting Postures  annie au yoga

 

Hold for 5 minutes and repeat on the other side.

 

Cat Pulling Its Tail (5 minutes per side)

Lie down on your back and shift the pelvis to the right slightly. Draw the right knee towards the chest and slowly bring it to left side of the body. Bend the left knee and kick it back towards the buttock. Hold the left ankle with your right hand. Use a strap if necessary.

 

releasing Anger and Restoring Love Through Yin Twisting Postures  annie au yoga

Hold for 5 minutes and repeat on the other side.

 

Restorative Side Twist  (6-8minutes per side)

This posture is more restorative than Yin. Sit sideways like a mermaid. Place a bolster or pillow against the hip. Slowly twist the torso towards the bolster and lay down on it. This is a more gentle twist and can hold for several minutes.

 

releasing Anger and Restoring Love Through Yin Twisting Postures  annie au yoga

Hold for 6-8 minutes and repeat on the other side.

 

You can infuse these postures in your regular yoga practice or practice 1-2 postures above before bed.

Thinking Too Much? Top 3 Yin Poses To Get Rid Of Your Worries

“If the problem can be solved why worry? If the problem cannot be solved worrying will do you no good.”

― Master Shantideva

When was the last time you worried? Perhaps last night? This morning? Or a few seconds ago? As purported by many scientific researches, humans are designed by nature to be fearful. This is logical as fear encourages us to be cautious, to run away from predators or to preserve food for an unexpected famine. However, as we progress in time, many of our worries are based less on real life danger, but rather on hypothetical stories that run incessantly in our minds.

Annie Au Yin Yoga Poses to get rid of Worrying

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), sickness can be caused by blocked emotional expression or prolonged/ intense emotional stimulation. These emotions may include anger, worry, fear, sadness, and mania. The concept and practical use of Chinese meridian system distinguishes Chinese medicine from other ancient healing modalities. Out of the twelve regular meridians, the Spleen/Stomach meridians are associated with worrying, as well as emotions like remorse, regret, obsessiveness, self-doubt, and suspicion. Commonly, when energy stagnant in these two meridians, you are likely to over-worry about things that may not have any tangible connections in your reality.

Yin poses help relief energy blockages throughout the body. The mechanism behind is similar to how water runs through a garden hose in your backyard. Just like pinching a garden hose with water running inside, the water pressure would increase behind the pinched spot. Upon release, the water forcefully pushes forward, carrying with it any toxic residue that may have lined the inside of the hose. Comparatively, while holding a yoga posture, the compressive or tensile force created in the body pinches the flow of energy in the meridians. After a few minutes as you come out of the pose, the energy is also released removing any energy stagnation in the channels.

If you’re a constant worrier, here are the top 3 poses you should do to help clear your worries away:

1. Sphinx/Seal- Hold for 3-5 minutes

Annie Au Yin Yoga Sphinx
Annie Au Yin Yoga Seal Pose

Start by laying on your stomach and place the elbows under the shoulder. Place the feet together or slightly apart, relax the legs. Slowly sink the chest and shoulders downward. You may feel slight to medium compression in the low back and tension in the chest and stomach.

To intensify the posture, go to Seal by lifting the elbows off the floor. Adjust the pressure in the low back by walking your hands closer or further away from the hips.

If you feel any sharp pain or numbness, go back to Sphinx or release the posture completely.


2. Saddle- Hold for 3-5 minutes

Annie Au Yin Yoga Saddle Pose
Annie Au Yin Yoga Half-Saddle Pose

Sitting on your knees or in hero pose (see picture), slowly walk the hands behind you on the floor as you lean back. Stop once you feel tension in the thighs and hip flexors. If you feel a lot of sensation in the low back, place a block or bolster under the spine for support. Only go as deep into the pose as you can breathe comfortably.



3. Melting Heart (Anahatasana)- Hold for 3 minutes

Annie Au Yin Yoga Anahatasana Melting Heart Pose

This pose is a gentle opening for the upper and mid back. Start on your hands and knees, slowly walk your hands forward until the chin or the chest touches the floor. You can place a block under the chin or forehead for support. The hips can be slightly forward or behind the knees. You may feel slight to medium sensations in the shoulders. You can also widen the arms to see if it softens the pressure in the shoulders. Note: If you feel any tingling or numbness in the arms, come out of the posture slowly as you might be experiencing nerve/blood vessel compression.

Love & Freedom: Finding Our Way Back Through Yin Yoga.

Love & Freedom: Finding Our Way Back Through Yin Yoga.

Practicing yin yoga is a way for us to delve into our inner beings. When the world is spinning fast, lost in the currents, we can find our way back through yin.

Take a look around us, what do you see? For me, I see people frantically filling their empty hearts with careers, properties, relationships, marriages and children. Is it not the way society has honed us in becoming, in pursuing? Is it not we can make our parents proud when we bring home another master or PHD degree, with a few more letters behind our names? Whatever the norm is, have you ever stop to wonder, what is the meaning behind all this?

From Krishnamurti, to discover the meaning behind this thing called life, we must discover what it is we love to do with our whole being. By discovering what we love to do, love that exudes from the innermost core of our existence, it is then we can be free. But then the question comes, what does it mean to be free? Is it to have many choices? Is it to exercise our free will and choose whatever our hearts desire? Let’s explore that a little here. Do we ever feel completely free when we’re presented with numerous choices? If you have come across such an experience, I would suspect the answer is no. When we find ourselves in a place to choose from many, we are everlastingly conflicted inside. How do we know which is the best choice? How do we ever know the one that we’ve picked will be the one we want tomorrow, the next day, or forever?

A man who loves does not do whatever he likes. It is love alone that leads to right action. What brings order in the world is to love and let love do what it will.
— Krishnamurti

Note that when Krishnamurti refers to man, he means humanity as a whole. When our hearts are filled with love, we automatically choose the right actions. Actions of selfless order, actions of infinite compassion. To truly love is to ask for nothing in return and to love with our entire essence. As you’re resting in your yin pose, look inwardly to see what is stopping you from love. Is it fear? Fear of losing your ideals, the picture perfect you have created since you can remember. Or is it fear of allowing yourself to be you?

Take a moment once in a while, to find out what is it you love to do. To find out what you really love to do requires a great deal of insight. So at least in a span of a few yin poses, drop your voices of insecurities and really listen, listen to what your heart has to tell you.

Your practical guide to yin yoga & traditional Chinese medicine

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.


yinyang Annie Au Yoga.jpg

 

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:

Yin-Water

Coldness

Moistness

Dimness

Downward/inward movement

Stillness

Yielding

Inhibition

Slowness

Heaviness

Yang-Fire

Heat

Dryness

Brightness

Upward/expanding movement

Activity

Forceful

Excitation

Rapidity

Lightness

 

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.

If you enjoy this article, please share it with your friends, family, and students. Spread the light.

60-Minute Yin Yoga Sequence To Conquer F E A R

60-Minute Yin Yoga Sequence To Conquer

F. E. A. R.

The spine is the pillar of our existence. Physiologically, the spine houses the central nervous system, supports the body’s weight, facilitates movement and flexibility, supports the functions of organs, and enables sensory perception, thought, and locomotion. 

In Chinese medicine, the Urinary Bladder meridian runs along the spine. The Urinary Bladder is a Yang organ and it is paired with the Kidneys. Based on the Daoist view, the acquired emotions after birth in these channels are fear, paranoia, panic, terror, loneliness and insecurity.  People with Qi stagnation in these channels over time can become indecisive, fearful, submissive to authority, and have the tendency to procrastinate. (When we procrastinate, we might have a fear of failure.) Yin Yoga helps to release these negative emotions. Like acupressure, when we hold a posture for a longer period, we stimulate the Qi along the meridians. Restoring Qi circulation in the Urinary Bladder and Kidney channels allows the congenital virtues of rationality and wisdom to prosper.

Here is a full 60-minute Yin Yoga sequence to help conquer fear. You can practice it in the morning/evening and once or twice per week.

Starting your practice:

Before you begin, make sure your practice area is free of clutter, loud music/noise, and most importantly put your cell phone away. Put your phone on silent or airplane mode if you use it as a timer. Essentially, in the next hour or so, you’ll be diving inward to a place of self-inquiry and quietude. Doing a home practice might mean that you have to coordinate with your family members so that you can have space to yourself without any disturbances. 

How long you should hold a posture is entirely up to you. The time set for this sequence is only suggestive. Just make sure you’re able to breathe normally and can feel the target area. I encourage you to push your edge with wisdom and compassion, which means go as far as you can without risking any injuries. 

Let’s begin!

1. Butterfly 4 minutes- Rest 1 minute

Target areas: Low spine, groin, inner thighs.

Annie Au Yin Yoga Butterfly


2. Caterpillar 5 minutes- Rest 1 minute

Target areas: Low spine, back of the legs.

Annie Au Yin Yoga Caterpillar


3. Dragonfly 4 minutes- Rest 1 minute

Target areas: Low spine, inner thighs.

Annie Au Yin Yoga Dragonfly


4. Bananasana 4 minutes per side- Rest 1 minute after both sides

Target areas: Side of the body.

Annie Au Yin Yoga Bananasana


5. Sphinx 3 minute & Seal 3 minutes- Rest 1 minute

Target areas: low spine, stomach.

Stay in Sphinx for 3 minutes

Stay in Sphinx for 3 minutes

If your back is fine, transition into the Seal pose and hold for 3 minutes. 

If your back is fine, transition into the Seal pose and hold for 3 minutes. 

6. Half-Saddle 4 minutes per side
Rest 1 minute between each side

Target areas: Low spine, top of the thigh, shoulders.

Lay on a bolster if needed. If your foot hurts, place a blanket under it.

Lay on a bolster if needed. If your foot hurts, place a blanket under it.

7. Snail 4 minutes- Rest for 1 minute

Target areas: Entire spine (specifically upper spine), back of the legs.

You can do the Caterpillar again if you cannot do Snail.

Annie Au Yin Yoga Snail Pose

8. Reclining Twists 4 minutes per side- Rest between sides for 1 minute

Target areas: Mid-low spine, outer thigh, upper arm/shoulder.

Annie Au Yin Yoga Reclining Twist

9. Savasana 5 minutes

Target area: General stillness in the body/mind. Focus the mind on a single point or try any of these simple meditation techniques.

Annie Au Yoga Savasana

Do you have a friend, family, student who needs to overcome his or her fear? Forward this free sequence to them and it might just be the thing they need!


Join us for the next 100hr Yin Yoga & Chinese Meridians Teacher Training!

June 01-10, 2017

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