Daily Yoga

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.

Yin & Yang: How Balanced Are You?

Yin & Yang: How Balanced Are You?


The Yin Yang Theory is based on ancient Daoism. With darkness comes light, as we observe closer to nature, we realize that the universe is a delicate balance of the Yin and Yang energy. 

Yin represents softness, grace, Divine Mother, passive, darkness, and shade. Yang represents rising, power, action, masculine force, action, and brightness. As humans, we are in the ebb and flow of these two essential components of life. We rise with the Sun and rest with the Moon. We take actions in life and retreat into solitude to rest. Like the season, our true nature embeds this delicate balance.

When we're off balance, our body, mind, and spirit dwindle. Juggling too many things, we fall short on sleep, over-caffeinated, digestion slows down, and anxiety or depression sets in. In Yoga, life is a journey of reaching a higher state of consciousness. What does that mean? From the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, the Eight Limbs Path is a step-by-step manual showing us how to reach fixed concentration (meditation) and ultimately reaching Samadhi (absorption). 

How we do anything is how we do everything. Our yoga practice is a sacred mirror of our life. Are you practicing just power-based yoga and not balancing with meditation or Yin yoga? Are you rushing in life from one stop to another and never stop to smell the roses? 

Take a look. 

If you feel that you're out of balance, here are a few tips you can try:

1. Practice In The Morning

Morning is usually the best time to practice yoga. It can be physical postures, or seated meditation and breathing exercises. Starting the day with yoga can help harmonize the rest of your hectic day. If that is not feasible, do a 5-minute meditation before you eat breakfast and see how small actions can have a huge effect on your mind.

2. Mindfulness Time-Out

Every hour or so, take a mindfulness time-out. A mindfulness time-out is when you pause and tune back to your senses. Smell the air, taste your coffee, listen to the sound in your surrounding, and take a look at the fine details of a flower or painting. Mindfulness time-out can help take you out of your mind and back to the present moment.

3. Choose your yoga practice wisely

Sometimes we get fixated on the style of yoga we practice. The truth is, we have to practice to what our body truly needs that day. I am a supporter of discipline and feel that we should keep to a routine. However, if we're already having a super busy day, it's good to end the day with some gentle Yin yoga and meditation. 

4. No yoga is sometimes the best yoga

If you're constantly busy doing a million things from the moment you get up, see if you can take a day where you do absolutely nothing. Eat alone and enjoy the taste of the food, read or take a slow walk in nature; smell the air and appreciate the beauty of the people and things around you. 

Finding balance is a skill that we can cultivate. Try these tips out and see how it feels to be in complete harmony.

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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