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90 Minute liver Meridian Class by Hali Love

Yin Yoga

Yin Yoga

Yin Yoga
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60 MIN HEART / FIRE

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Yin Yoga Theory

YIN YOGA HISTORYHali Love
00:00 / 11:53
WHAT IS YIN YOGAHali Love
00:00 / 18:36
  • Yin Yang History 
    • Origin of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
    • Dao & Yin- Yang Philosophy
  • What is Yin Yoga
    • Benefits & Contraindications of Yin Yoga
    • An Interesting Study by Paul Grilley
    • Why Is Yin Different?
    • Who Is Yin For?
    • Yin Yoga and The Mind
  • Yin Yoga Anatomy
    • Best Yin Postures to Prepare for Seated Meditation 
    • Fascia Tissue
    • Yin Yoga and Qi
    • Good Pain V Bad Pain
    • Tension V Compression
    • Article by Paul Grilley
    • Yin Yoga as Acupressure
  • Yin Yoga Safety
  • EFT and Yin Yoga

Yin Yang History 

For 2500 years, the Taoist principle of Yin/Yang has been depicted in a familiar circular symbol known throughout the world. It is worn on bracelets, appears on clothing, and is used in corporate logos. This symbol represents core Taoist principles, with some interesting nuances, which are central to its philosophy.

Since Taoism's philosophical and religious system is built on a holistic view of reality, its yin/yang symbol is foremost a representation of Universal Oneness with black and white colors alternating within a single circle. Thus the duality of all phenomena — whether summer and winter, male and female, or life and death — are shown to be opposing manifestations of the same principle and should not to be viewed as independent phenomena.

The yin/yang symbol is half white and half black, each side representing a polar opposite. Note, too, that the symbol is neither predominantly white nor predominately black, but equal portions of each. This is meant to represent the balanced proportions of our universe as found in nature. For example, both day and night are needed in roughly equal proportions for life on earth to thrive. The symbol also exhibits rotating pattern between the two colors, suggesting a continuous exchange or movement from black to white and from white to black, like day to night and night to day. These natural manifestations of the yin yang principle illustrate how opposites must balance for harmony to be achieved. In Chinese medicine, the balance of yin/yang forces is the most important of healing principles.

In the Tao, understanding yin/yang forces is essential to successfully building one's path through life. For example, the yin/yang symbol has a definite line between the white and black areas; a well-defined contour distinguishing the two colors. This clarity of color symbolizes the need for clarity in all aspects of a life. Gray isn't found in the yin/yang symbol. Clarity requires one to commit to do nothing halfway; or to paraphrase an old adage, one shouldn't try to sit on two chairs. In becoming a spiritual person, a clear purposeful understanding of what is happening is required to determine appropriate action. Caution is required when black and white mix to form an uncertain gray.

Unfortunately, confusion will invariably arise when presented with new situations during the course of life. Periods of confusion can be expected, much in the same way that each day transitions through twilight into night. It is the goal of the Taoist, however, to keep his twilight — his period of confusion — as short as possible. As in nature, twilight does not last 24 hours.

Some people seem to embrace confusion, chasing the twilight. They fear decision-making because it carries responsibility for action. For these people, the line between yin and yang is blurred as they remain passive in ambiguous periods. Taoism's strategy, instead, is to gain clarity and not stay in the middle. Sometimes this can be hard as decisions to achieve clarity may involve uncomfortable conversations followed by tough action. For example, not confronting a dysfunctional and unclear relationship — both personal and professional — comes to mind.

It is equally important to distinguish clarity from purity. A clear vision of the world and decisive navigation throughout life should not be based upon unrealistic expectations of purity. The futility of searching for absolute purity is illustrated by the small white dot in the black area and the small black dot in the white area of the yin/yang symbol. For example, one has no trouble distinguishing day from night, and yet there is not pure darkness at night — there is still some light from the moon and stars. 

Embracing the power of opposites is necessary for most phenomena to function correctly. An athlete knows muscles grow only if intense physical training is followed by a period of relaxation — otherwise overtraining results in damaged muscles. A military officer cultivates tactics for aggressive attack, but also understands how to retreat. Lao Tzu emphasized this inclusion of a small component of opposites, warning that the male part of any phenomenon should "embrace the female." Thus a natural path does not seek unrealistic purity, but rather a harmony of opposites.

The yin/yang symbol is a circle and not a square; there are no straight lines in nature. In fact, any dynamic motion is more efficient when following a trajectory similar to the yin/yang contour. Thus, the physical motions used in Tai Chi and Chi Gong are circular and not straight in order to better accelerate the body's natural energies. Martial artists develop increased power by using yin/yang circular motions that are anatomically correct and optimal accelerators.

In the intellectual realm, the yin/yang's symbol offers a valuable tool for sorting out life's priorities and making difficult decisions. It turns out that it's easier for the mind to comprehend what is not wanted, rather than what is desired. For example, if asked what a person wants out of life, there is often confusion and bewilderment. However, by mentally exploring what is not wanted, the desired aspects become clearer and clearer. It turns out that investigating the opposite side of any phenomenon often provides an easier path to enlightenment than the more direct approach. This is a valuable technique that can be immediately used without specialized training.

Yin generally refers to things that are relatively deeper, inside, colder, downward, female, stiffer and slower; Yang generally refers to things that are higher, hotter, flexible, light, male, outside, bright, upward, active, and quick.

A tropical monsoon begins quickly, pours all its waters in a thunderous short time and quickly abates. A drizzly mist that lingers for days slowly soddening everything lasts for days and even weeks. The monsoon is yang to the drizzle is yin. The terms yin and yang are Daoist but these complementary qualities of nature were noticed by most high cultures. Yin and yang are not unique to China; the Indian yogis also noticed this complementary nature of reality.

Death haunts us. Its inevitability is one of the most important driving forces in life. Its uncontrollable arrival is feared and the loss of loved ones lamented. However, the yin/yang symbol illustrates a profound philosophical view that provides comfort. It turns out that the symbol's rotation of colors represents the journey of the soul and prompts this question: If you fear what happens to your soul after it departs the dead body, shouldn't you wonder where it came from when it entered the body? That is, the soul goes somewhere at the time of death, so it came from somewhere at time of birth. The realization that death is that time when the soul returns to its home is reassuring. It also carries profound implications about the purpose of life.

Symbols are important: countries have flags, companies have logos, and religions have icons. Taoism’s yin/yang symbol is remarkable because it represents the faith's cornerstone principles for immediate application in handling life's big challenges.

Origin of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

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.

Dao & 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 that 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. 

What is Yin Yoga

Traditionally, Yin Yoga is based on the Taoist concept of yin and yang, opposite and complementary principles in nature. In the body, the relatively stiff connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, fascia) are yin, while the more mobile and pliable muscles and blood are yang.

A Yin Yoga class usually consists of a series of long-held, passive floor postures that mainly work the lower part of the body: the hips, pelvis, inner thighs, lower spine. These areas are especially rich in connective tissues. The poses are held for up to five minutes, and at times, longer.

Yin is a more meditative approach to yoga, with a physical focus much deeper than Yang like practices (such as power yoga or vinyasa). In yin, the practitioner is trying to access the deeper tissues such as the connective tissue and fascia and many of the postures focus on areas that encompass a joint (hips, sacrum, spine). As one ages flexibility in the joints decreases and Yin yoga is a wonderful way to maintain that flexibility, something that for many do not seem to be too concerned about until they notice it is gone.

Our Class Description

A grounding, releasing very slow paced class that focuses on releasing stuck energy and emotions from the deep tissues of your body.  Expect to hold releasing postures anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes.  Philosophy is anchored in the Meridian System from Traditional Chinese Medicine.

As Humans, we are natural ‘Yangsters’. We love to stress our body, even if it is too much. We have the ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality. In yin (which we feel should be adopted into all styles of yoga), what is important is how the pose feels, rather than what the pose looks like. We do not use our body to get into the pose, rather we use the pose to get into our body.

This intimate practice of yoga requires students to be ready to get intimate with ‘the self’, with feelings, sensations, and emotions, something which can be easily avoided in a fast paced yang based yoga practice. Yin yoga is often used in programs that deal with addictions, eating disorders, anxiety and deep pain or trauma.

For several postures, Iyengar advised students to "Stay in this pose as long as you can ..." These were yin postures, although that Chinese term was obviously not used. While yin postures were and still are a part of the Hatha yoga practice, they remained a minor part and no one seemed to be teaching classes that were entirely yin. On the other hand, there were more and more classes offered that were entirely yang, except for the ending Savasana: Ashtanga, Power Yoga, Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Hot Yoga, Kundalini and many other styles typify this yang emphasis.

We know that the use of yin postures in yoga is not new. It has been around since the beginning of the physical practice of yoga. Thus no one person can be given credit for inventing yin postures. There was a time when all yoga was yin-like, and perhaps the balance was too far in that direction. A rebalancing occurred when yang postures grew in prominence. However, as time went on, yoga practice became more and more yang-like. Nature desires balance - we could say she demands balance. If we don't seek it out, she will impose it upon us eventually. Yoga could not continue to be more and more yang without someone finding a way to bring it back into balance.

In the last decade of the 20th century, two teachers did start to bring yin postures back into the prominence they once had in the yoga world: Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers. Paul was first exposed to instances of long held postures in 1989, while attending Paulie Zink's Taoist Yoga classes. The history of the term, Taoist Yoga is also interesting. It is not a term that has been in use for very long. Its first occurrence was probably in a book called Taoist Yoga: Alchemy and Immortality, written by Lu K'uan Yu’s (Charles Luk; 1898-1978) , which he published in 1973. The practice of Taoist Yoga equates simply to Chi Kung, but by using the word "yoga" in the name, Lu K'uan Yu was able to leverage the growing popularity of yoga to help students become interested in Chi Kung. After Lu K'uan Yu, a few other teachers, like Mantak Chia in the 1980's, also began to refer to their Chi Kung as Taoist Yoga as well.

Benefits & Contraindications of Yin Yoga

 

Increases flexibility

Yin poses are demanding. You need to remain still for long periods of time. But this gives you a greater range of motion and increased flexibility in the longer term. By holding poses and stretches your body will feel longer, lighter, and looser.

 

Heals the body

Studies show that a Yin practice helps to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn allows your body to rest and digest so that it can begin to recover from fatigue and chronic muscle pain. As we age, we tend to do 3 things to our tissues: compress, stretch and twist them, resulting in tension and stress. Yin yoga helps promote circulation of blood, nutrients, creating a free flow of energy; which can replenish lost energy. Studies that show Yin Yoga can support healing from TMJ and migraines.

 

Alleviates stress and tension

In yin, your goal is to deepen your breath, as the more oxygen you get into your muscles, the more they will release and lengthen, which lowers cortisol levels (commonly known as stress hormones).

Improves balance

Yin yoga requires you to stay in a pose for several minutes at a time. The longer the time you hold the pose, the more effort you need to put in to balance your whole body.

 

Improves flexibility & mobility 

Yin can serve as a foundation for creating a well-balanced body and even after a few sessions you’ll enjoy increased mobility, coordination, mindfulness and balance within your internal organ system through an improved flow of chi or prana through meridian stimulation. Approximately 70% of the volume of fascia is made up of water found in the non-fibrous substance. Both stretching and compression play a significant role in tissue hydration. When you load tissue, fluid is squeezed out and into the lymphatic system, including fluids present as a result of swelling (Myers 2012). When the loads are released, and the tissues are left to rest, new fluid is pulled back in like a sponge (Klingler et all 2004). Loading our tissues, especially neglected ones, refreshes them.

Contraindications of Yin Yoga

Yin yoga is not recommended within two months after giving birth. The focus should be on poses which help new mothers regain strength and stability in the core abdominal, pelvic floor and back muscles.

During pregnancy, especially in the third trimester, you should avoid very deep stretching. The body produces a hormone during pregnancy that softens the connective tissues. This leads to higher risk of strains and pulls.

Anyone with bulging or herniated discs should skip the twists and forward folds with the back rounded.

People with strong posterior pelvic tilt should bend their knees in forward folds.

An Interesting Study by Paul Grilley

Paul Grilley performed an interesting study: He measured the height of the same person in the morning, afternoon, and after Yin Yoga practices. Throughout the day, humans lose height as a result of fluid loss in our vertebral discs. When he measured their subject after a Yin Yoga practice, he consistently saw that she regained some of her lost height as her spinal tissues rehydrated.

Well-hydrated tissues have a springy quality that helps them to return to their original shapes after being loaded. Hydrated tissues also respond better and more efficiently to stress. And, well-hydrated tissues can more easily transfer nutrients to the cells and rid the body of toxins (Clark 2012).

Perhaps one of the most intriguing discoveries about fascia is that it is our greatest sensory organ, and it
plays a major role in our proprioception. Movement modalities that emphasize physical awareness and internal listening can help refine the sensory nature of our tissues. Preliminary studies have shown an inverse relationship between pain and proprioception, making this a worthwhile pursuit.

This is particularly exciting for those of us who practice Yin Yoga. When we hold non-neutral shapes for minutes, we have a lot of opportunity to practice listening to our outer and inner states. Taking our time between poses to notice the before and after effects can also enhance our sensing abilities. Though not impossible, it is much harder to pay attention to how we feel in a more dynamic practice since much of our mental energy is devoted to orchestrating our movements.

Why Is Yin Different?

There are two principles that differentiate a yin practice from more yang approaches to yoga: holding poses for at least several minutes and stretching the deep tissues. To do the latter, the overlying muscles must be relaxed. If the muscles are tense, the connective tissue will not receive the proper stress. You can demonstrate this by gently pulling on your right middle finger, first with your right hand tensed and then with the hand relaxed. When the hand is relaxed, you will feel a stretch in the joint where the finger joins the palm; the connective tissue that knits the bones together is stretching. When the hand is tensed, there will be little or no movement across this joint, but you will feel the muscles straining against the pull.

Because Yin Yoga requires that the muscles be relaxed around the connective tissue you want to stretch, not all yoga poses can be done effectively or safely. It’s not necessary, or even possible for all the muscles to be relaxed when you’re doing some Yin Yoga postures. In a seated forward bend, for example, you can gently pull with your arms to increase the stretch on the connective tissues of your spine. But in order for these connective tissues to be affected, you must relax the muscles around the spine itself.

Standing poses, arm balances, and inversions; poses that require muscular action to protect the structural integrity of the body cannot be done as yin poses. Also, although many yin poses are based on popular yoga asanas, the emphasis on releasing muscles rather than on contracting them means that the shape of poses and the techniques employed in them may be slightly different than we are accustomed to in yang practices. Yin postures are often labelled with different names as well.

 
Who Is Yin Yoga For?

Yin Yoga is for you if you are tired, over-stimulated, when your energy is too erratic, your mind overactive, whether you are craving for energy or you feel you have too much of it.

We live in a world where we are bombarded with stimuli, stimuli that is available 24/7. Think about your laptops, phones and other mobile devices. It’s so easy to end up not switching off at all anymore. To end up with a mind that is constantly busy processing all that information that you throw at it. Whether the information is good, valuable or rubbish, it doesn’t matter, the mind still needs to deal with it.

The mind gets used to that amount of information and starts to crave stimuli if it gets quiet. So you end up browsing, looking for stuff, it doesn’t matter what as long as you fill the gaps. Gaps we really should allow to stay empty to find some sort of down time - for the mind to stop and for you to just be.

Any kind of dynamic form of yoga caters for this aspect of keeping yourself busy. Although the mind may calm down as a result of the active exercise, you are still feeding the part of you that wants intensity and wants to be stimulated. You just happen to have found yourself a healthier stimulus!

Yin Yoga and The Mind

Becoming still in a pose and holding it for an extended period of time creates space for thoughts and feeling to arise, and usually what comes up in these situations are the things that we suppress in our day to day life. Yin Yoga allows you to take the time to allow any and all thoughts and feelings to simply be, especially the ones that have been hanging around in your shadow.

Generally speaking during a Yin Yoga class the teacher will encourage you to allow all of the thoughts and feelings to be there. A skilled teacher will guide you to become the observer of everything that arises in your experience. This gives your experience a change to happen; therefore evoking release holding.

This can be an effective pattern to create, as you then are able to observe the physical sensations and the emotions without getting caught up in blame or the stories of which the emotions are attached to.


When you begin to re-pattern your mind to act differently you are able to clear out any blockages in your body - whether they are physical, emotional, mental or energetic.

Yin Yoga Anatomy

All seated meditation postures aim at one thing: holding the back upright without strain or slouching so that energy can run freely up and down the spine. The fundamental factor that affects this upright posture is the tilt of the sacrum and pelvis. When you sink back in a chair so that the lower spine rounds, the pelvis tilts back. When you “sit up straight,” you are bringing the pelvis to a neutral alignment. This alignment is what you want for seated meditation. The placement of the upper body takes care of itself if the pelvis is properly adjusted.

A basic yin practice to facilitate seated meditation should incorporate forward bends, hip openers, backbends, and twists. Forward bends include not just the basic two-legged seated forward fold but also poses that combine forward bending and hip opening. All of the forward bends stretch the ligaments along the back side of the spine and help decompress the lower spinal discs. The straight legged forward bends stretch the fascia and muscles along the backs of the legs.

All the connective tissues found in the body, including fascia, tendons, and ligaments, are comprised of
cells, fibers (collagen and elastin), and a gel-like fluid called ground substance. The ratio of these elements varies depending on the type of tissue and its location in the body. For instance, your achilles tendons are thicker and more fibrous than your earlobes. But they are, more or less, the same thing.

The differences in the fiber/fluid make-up of these tissues match their functions. An Achilles tendon is thick and elastic so that it can absorb impact and produce power for running and jumping. But the fascia that wraps around the individual muscles fibers in our thighs is less thick and contains a lot of ground substance to reduce friction.

Researchers have also discovered that the separate connective tissue types respond differently to different loads. What a ligament needs to maintain its optimal function is not the same as a joint capsule. The overall takeaway from the research is that to sustain the robustness of all of our tissues we need to engage in a variety of activities. Healthy loads include the kind of passive, static stretches and compressions of Yin Yoga.

In particular, we know that static stretching stimulates the deep layers of fascia that wrap around the bundles of muscle fibers. Also, the fascia that connects muscles to one another is affected by passive stretches. But, passive loads don’t affect tendons and ligaments. Due to their arrangement, the relaxed muscle fibers absorb most of the tissue lengthening (Schleip, Muller 2012).

But, what do we mean by “stimulates” and “affected by?” What’s really going on here?

The primary cells found in fascia are called fibroblasts, and their main job, among a couple of other things, is to create more fascia. The brain doesn’t control the fibroblasts. Instead, fibroblast behavior is determined mainly by the mechanical loads (or lack of loads) placed on them.

In Yin Yoga, we are mainly interested in the effects of compressive and tensile (stretch) loads on our tissues. The sensation you feel in the low back during sphinx or seal pose is a result of compressive forces on the soft tissues and vertebrae. When you fold forward in butterfly pose, you are stretching the back.

The fibroblast cells will adjust the production of collagen, elastin, and ground substance to create an architecture best suited for the demands placed on them (Benjamin et al., 2005). These loads need to be progressive (appropriately increased) and occur over an extended period of time. When it comes to remodelling connective tissue, lengths of time are measured in months and years (Schleip 2012).

Researchers have found that the fibroblasts in tendons and ligaments adapt to compressive forces by producing strong, fibrous collagen that can withstand additional forces (Benjamin et al., 1998). Without specific research, we can reasonably conclude that compressive Yin Yoga poses contribute positively to fascia health.

Can Tissues Lengthen When Stretched? This seems to be the big point of contention when it comes to Yin Yoga. The short answer seems to be yes, BUT...

The better questions might be: how long does this lengthening last? Can we retain new length permanently? Is there an end point to how much we can stretch before it becomes harmful? Unfortunately, not only are the questions tricky, but we can’t answer them with certainty.

Here are a few things we do know:

Connective tissues do have some plasticity, the ability to undergo change under a load. We know that slow, sustained tensile loads change tissue length more effectively than a quick stretch (Myers 2012). Think of a plastic grocery store bag. If you tug on it quickly, it resists change. But if you pull on it slowly and carefully, it reshapes and permanently deforms. Eventually, it will tear.

The term for our tissues’ ability to stretch is called creep. Creep is measured by the amount of force applied, rate, and length of time. Of interest to Yin yogis: our tissues creep even if you don’t increase the loads (Mitchell 2014).

Here’s an analogy: What do you do with a nearly empty bottle of hair conditioner to get the rest of it out? You turn the bottle upside down and wait. What’s happening is that the steady (not increasing) force of gravity will slowly pull the conditioner down to the opening of the bottle. The relationship of time to creep seems to indicate that even mild Yin Yoga poses could lengthen our tissues.

Students often say that Yin Yoga postures “last longer than regular yoga.” But I’ve never heard someone say that the effects last forever, and this certainly hasn’t been my experience.

The plastic bag analogy only goes so far because plastic bags aren’t living tissue. Fascia is also elastic, so when you remove the loads, the tissues gradually recover their original shape as long as they aren’t overstretched and damaged. Some studies have shown that very long holds of around 20 minutes can take hours to recover (Clark 2016). But they do recover eventually.

There is also another factor to consider when we ask ourselves what are we doing in Yin Yoga: Involuntary tissue contraction.

This will surprise very few people, but we humans unconsciously contract our tissues in response to stress (physical, psychological, emotional, etc.). If we are under stress for an extended period of time, we can “forget” how to relax, meaning that our tissues may remain in a constant contractive state even when the stressor has been removed (Myers 2012).

Further, we find that this constant state of contraction leads to a thickening of the fascia (Langevin et al. 2009). The research suggests that many people aren’t feeling an increase in range of motion after stretching, but rather they experience a return to a normal resting state.

On the cellular level, stretching does produce changes, which over time, can create adaptations and remodelling of the tissues. Just like compression, tensile loads on connective tissues stimulate the fibroblasts to produce more collagen fibers, which increases fascial thickness and strength (Myers 2012). What we don’t know is how long one must hold these loads for meaningful and permanent changes to take hold. Nor do we know how much is too much before we cause damage. Likely this “Goldie Locks” sweet spot is different for everyone.

Fascia Tissue

FASCIA is pronounced ‘FAH-sha’. It's everywhere inside of the human body. In Latin, fascia means ‘band’. Fascia is a fibre and fluid based system; which ‘bands the human body together’. It’s comprised of a vast network of soft tissue connective tissue within the human body. Fascia includes superficial, deep and loose fascial layers, ligaments and tendons.

For centuries research has written and taught about more familiar structures of the human body: bones, muscles, organs, blood vessels, and nerves. For year’s anatomical study disregarded ‘FASCIA’ as nothing more than an inert ‘space-filler’ inside the human body.

Although fascia has been within the human body all along, it's only in more recent years being appreciated for the invaluable role it plays in the human body's health and functioning. There is a significant amount we need to learn about this mysterious tissue. Research discovered that fascia is a dynamic, communicative and integral part of the human body. Also, this fascinating System is a ‘3D Web’ of connectivity; it surrounds and interpenetrates all of the various human body parts.

Muscles are completely surrounded and interwoven with three distinct layers of fascia. These three fascial layers blend together at either end of a muscle and become tendons. Muscle and fascia are intertwined and collectively with tendons; ‘myofascial unit’, instead of simply a muscle.

During asana practice the physical human body is moved into various positions that includes using both muscles and fascia at the same time. There's not a single pose that targets only our muscles or only our fascia. Additionally, muscles (myofascial units) never truly operate as individual, isolated muscles. Via fascial connections, muscles are linked to long functional chains; it's these larger myo-fascial chains that are responsible for movement. Instead of focusing on the separateness of each body part, fascia provides an opportunity to appreciate the reality of interconnectedness within the human body.

When observing fascia, it’s alive and tangible representation of the principle of oneness within the human body. The continuous fascial network unites everything on the inside and creates an environment where what happens in one localized area of the body (stretch, massage, injury) directly affects the body as a whole.

A Dynamic Organ of Communication

In addition to creating literal interconnectedness, fascia plays a remarkable role of helping the human body to sense itself; without using eyes to see itself from the outside. Fascia is full of innumerable sensory nerve endings. Fascia is in constant communication with the brain relating to the human body’s position in space. ‘Proprioception’ is the human body’s ability to use ‘inner vision’ to sense itself is (true sixth sense’).

Fascial system is a major organ of proprioception. The health of our fascia is connected to how developed our ‘inner vision’ is. We all possess an acceptable level of proprioception. This supports the human body to move through life. In recent years, it has become apparent that learning high quality proprioception is an important key to healthy aging. Research discovered a link between increased levels of proprioception and decreased levels of pain in the human body. Therefore, more the human brain can sense the body accurately; the human body will experience less pain. The more developed the proprioception results are more natural and skillful daily movements. This reduces chance of injury in the first place; as the human body ages this becomes increasingly important.

Variation is Key

One of the main ways fascia stays healthy is by moving in various and different ways (as opposed to repetitive).

If fascial tissues are moved in the same way all the time (repetitive activities: running, biking, too many chaturangas, sitting at a computer for eight hours every day), the fascial tissues will grow weaker and are more prone to injury. Alternately, if fascia tissues are moved in a wide array of movements (non-repetitive yoga, walking on varied terrains, climbing rocks and trees, regular bodywork and massage), fascia tissues respond by adapting to diversity of movement input and will grow stronger and be more resilient. Movement variability and high quality proprioception are some of the most powerful tools to utilize related to aging gracefully.

Conclusion

Fascia research has offered many new insights about the structure and function of the human body. It is imperative to care for fascia tissues and keep the tissues moist through healthy forms of movement; this will ensure the fascia will continue to do an amazing job of supporting the human body from the inside out.

Yin Yoga and Qi

QI can be viewed in a similar way as prana. If you experiment ( we will in this program) and only spend a few minutes a couple times a week practicing several of these poses, you will likely be pleasantly surprised at how different you feel when you sit to meditate. But that improved ease may not be the only or even the most important benefit of Yin Yoga. If Dr. Motoyama and other researchers are right—if the network of connective tissue does correspond with the meridians of acupuncture and the nadis of yoga—strengthening and stretching connective tissue may be critical for your long-term health.

Chinese medical practitioners and yogis have insisted that blocks to the flow of vital energy (Qi or Prana) throughout our body eventually manifest in physical problems that would seem, on the surface, to have nothing to do with weak knees or a stiff back. Much research is still needed to explore the possibility that science can confirm the insights of yoga and Traditional Chinese Medicine. But if yoga postures really do help us reach down into the body and gently stimulate the flow of qi and prana through the connective tissue, Yin Yoga serves as a unique tool for helping you get the greatest possible benefit from yoga practice.

Good Pain V Bad Pain

‘Good pain is reliable, consistent, and necessary. ‘Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.’ B.K.S. Iyengar

‘We must not try to run from the pain but to move through and beyond it. This is the cultivation of tenacity and perseverance, which is the spiritual attitude of yoga. This is also the spiritual attitude toward life.’ B.K.S Iyengar

‘Since pain is inevitable, asana is a laboratory in which we discover how to tolerate the pain that cannot be avoided and how to transform the pain that can.’ B.K.S. Iyengar

GOOD PAIN

A process of a movement rather than a halting experience

Promotes movement of energy
It becomes possible to create comfort in the discomfort

Applies value over judgment

Feeling oriented
Intuition is aligned
You can breathe through good pain

Good pain is subtle

BAD PAIN

A halting experience
Promotes a stuckness of energy
The physical discomfort takes over the experience
A result of a judgment of unworthiness,

Pushing too hard

Goal oriented
Intuition was a prior warning
Bad pain makes you gasp and takes your breath away

Bad pain is sharp

Tension V Compression

Compression is good for joints as it stimulates the bones to grow healthy. Yang exercise develops strong muscles and bones but can leave the joints contracted and stiff. This is common among athletes.

Article by Paul Grilley

Tension or Compression: The Fundamental Distinction by Paul Grilley September 20, 2004, Ashland, Oregon Posted to e-Sutra January 4, 2005

Architectural principles start from the premise that all structures, including our bodies, are a balance between stretching forces and crushing forces, or briefly “tension and compression”. The cables that stabilize telephone poles or lift elevators are being stretched, they are subject to tension. The telephone pole itself or the support columns holding up a building are being pressed, they are under compression. When we practice Yoga asana the fundamental distinction to make is this: “Are the physical restrictions I am feeling tension or compression?” Tension is due to the stretching of muscle or connective tissue but compression is determined by the shape of our bones.

Skeletal differences

The bulk of my work as an invited Yoga teacher is anatomical. A few years ago I walked into “The Bone Room” in Berkeley, California and purchased five human femur bones. It was the best investment I ever made. In nearly all my presentations I point out the dramatic differences between these bones. Besides the obvious size and length variations I point out how some bones are twisted 40 degrees backward or rotated 30 degrees upward. These differences might remain a mere curiosity but when these skeletal differences are coupled with the idea of compression it usually turns a student’s yoga world around. Because all of our bones are different, all of our joints compress at different angles of flexion and extension. Through our Yoga practice we can discover where we compress but our Yoga practice will not change where we compress.

A brief outline of the ideas presented in an “Anatomy for Yoga Workshop” is as follows:

1. When we practice asanas we move our joints.
2. When we move our joints our bones pivot away from each other.
3. Because the bones are moving apart tissues are stretched.
4. At first our limits of motion are determined by how much we can stretch.

5. But the ultimate limit to our range of motion is compression.
6. Compression is due to the shape of our bones.

Tensile Metaphors

Virtually all the metaphors of present day Yoga instruction are tensile.


“Relax” – relax the muscle tension, “Breathe into it” – soften up the tissue, “Let go” – relax tension, “Make a space” – let the bones move apart. But limiting our conceptions to tensile metaphors is like walking with one leg. For the vast majority of us who have practiced yoga for several years the restrictions we experience are compressive, not tensile. It is the inherent shape of our bones that determines what we can or cannot practice safely. And because each person’s bones are differently formed then what is beneficial for one person is destructive to another.

Perfect Postures

The goal in presenting compression as the ultimate limit to a range of motion is to free ourselves from the tyranny of “proper form” and “perfect pose”. Asana practice is supposed to be a mild therapeutic that allows us to influence the movement of prana and fluids through our bodies, but in the present environment there is a naive belief that if we all try hard enough we can “do all the poses”. This is wrong. More damaging then the physical strains caused by pushing to “perfect” a pose is the lingering feeling of inadequacy. Many instructors explicitly or implicitly teach that our inability to perform asanas “correctly” is a reflection of deeper emotional problems. Because of this many students place far, far too much emphasis on “perfecting poses”. Many students pursue this imagined perfection not out of any vain desire to look good but because they earnestly want to uncover whatever is “holding them back” in their spiritual life. Note that “holding back” is a tensile metaphor. Having no idea of compression they dimly imagine that their joints must be restricted by soft tissues that they should be able to “lengthen”, “soften”, or “relax” if they could just “let go” of their emotional baggage.

Teach Skeletal Differences and Compression

Compression is not a native conception to Yoga students. Even if a student senses a “natural limitation” in their movements they will not use the word “compression” to describe it. The closest they will come is “I don’t bend that way.” Time and again I have seen students unable to tilt his pelvis forward in a forward bending posture because the trochanter of their femur is compressed. When I ask them where they feel the restriction they are not sure what to say because they don’t feel a “stretch” in their groin or hamstrings. They are not in pain. Pushing on them doesn’t bother them much. They just “can’t do down”.

Because of the nature of my work I am constantly asked by students what they can do to “improve” different poses. After a quick examination of their skeletal movements I can usually tell them there is nothing to “improve”, their asanas are fine as they are. I tell them that they don’t look like the pictures in the book because of the shape of their bones. People in my workshops usually accept this opinion with a huge sense of relief but this is because they have been introduced to the ideas of skeletal differences and compression. Without these two ideas Yoga students sometimes interpret any suggestion of limitation as “pessimistic”. But if it is possible to communicate to a student that it is the unique shape of her bones that is limiting her then she will start to let go of trying to make her poses “perfect” and begin to relax and enjoy her practice.

Our mental and emotional life is reflected in the tissues of our bodies but this reflection is primarily in the soft tissues of the body. Two, asana practice influences the health of our bones but this is something different from their general contour. It is the general contour and proportion of our bones that determines our ranges of motion.

Yin Yoga as Acupressure

In Yin Yoga, poses act as a pressurizer to stimulate different meridians along the body. When practicing yin, gentle pressure is applied over an extended period (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.

Meridians can be stimulated in other activities such as walking, massage, dynamic yoga, climbing, etc. However, the most significant aspect of YIN is ‘stillness’. YIN requires stillness in our mind and body. Through stillness, we can observe the nature of our mind and perhaps seek a deeper understanding of our life beyond the physical self.

The concept of Yin yoga has been around for thousands of years and some of the older text, such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika notes only fifteen postures in its text, which is far less than the millions of postures practiced in today’s yoga. In yoga history, we find both a yin and yang nature being described. 

Yin Yoga Safety

When should we practice Yin Yoga?

  • When muscles are cool

  • Early morning

  • Late at night

  • Before an active Yang practice

  • Seasonal transitions

  • When life is hectic

  • After a long trip

  • Better/Easier to yin on an empty stomach

  • At least 1 hour after eating

Critics of Yin Yoga worry that practitioners can overstretch their joints. Because there are no specific studies of Yin Yoga to date and relatively few studies of stretching overall, it’s hard to refute this claim completely. We don’t know what our thresholds are when it comes to stretching.

 

It is possible that someone could overdo it in a Yin pose. The problem could be that a pose is not appropriate for that person due to her unique anatomy or physiological state. It’s also possible that everything in her movement history up to that moment could make a singular pose the last straw. This could happen in any yoga class as well as a number of other movement modalities. It doesn’t make Yin Yoga inherently more dangerous than other forms of exercise.

It’s also theoretically possible that someone could, over time, practice so much Yin Yoga that he overstretches his tissues to the point of instability. But we should also remember that the loads in Yin Yoga are relatively low, and some might even say that body weight isn’t progressive enough to create lasting change anyway. When you consider that our tissues start to recover to their original starting point as soon as you remove the load, it seems unlikely that a semi-regular Yin Yoga practice would be dangerous. Of course, a lot would depend on what else you’re doing with your body when you’re not practicing Yin Yoga.

Our tissues need both compressive and tensile loads to keep us feeling vibrant and youthful.


Creep recovery and contracture make it pretty hard to go overboard with a Yin Yoga practice. I think you would really have to try. This is especially true when you remember that Yin Yoga teachers will remind you to approach the practice with the spirit of being rather than doing. The whole gestalt of Yin Yoga is to do less.

When practiced with this sensibility, I believe that Yin Yoga is about as safe as, if not safer than, any other form of yoga. But I don’t think it is appropriate for everyone. A person’s biology, history, life stage, pathologies, preferences all matter. There is no one size fits all. (ref: medium.com).

Is there such a thing as Hot Yin Yoga? Yes - but it is not it aligned with the Yin Yoga principles or philosophy. Muscles and Connective Tissues need to be cool to get the benefit of Yin. Having cool muscles will allow YIN POSTURES to get into deeper muscles and connective tissues (true benefit of YIN).

EFT and Yin Yoga

Emotional Freedom Techniques.

What is the Emotional Freedom Techniques? The Emotional Freedom Technique is the psychological acupressure technique taken from Traditional Chinese Medicine meridian alignment technique. It is a wonderful tool that can help balance emotional health.

EFT can help:

• Remove stuck emotions
• Promote balance within the emotional body

• Curve food cravings
• Reduce or eliminate pain
• Implement positive goals

As mentioned above, EFT is a process of activating the TCM meridian without the use of needles. It uses as simple tapping with the fingertips, which provides an input of kinetic energy onto specific meridians on the head and chest while you think about your specific problem — whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, etc. — and voice positive affirmations. This combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the stuck emotion from your body's bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body's balance, which is essential for optimal health and the healing of physical disease. Some people are initially wary of these principles that EFT is based on — the electromagnetic energy that flows through the body and regulates our health is only recently becoming recognized in the West. Others are initially taken aback by (and sometimes amused by) the EFT tapping and affirmation methodology, whose basics you will learn.

 

How to EFT Tap

The tapping locations and technique, and the positive affirmations. The basic EFT sequence is straightforward and generally takes clients only a few minutes to learn. With some practice, you will be performing each round in under a minute. As we discover the tapping areas, remember that while it is important to tap the correct area, you do no need o worry about being absolutely precise, as tapping the general area is sufficient.

The first thing to understand is that you will be tapping with your fingers. There are a number of acupuncture meridians on your fingertips, and when you tap with your fingertips you are also likely using not only the meridians you are tapping on, but also the ones on your fingers.

Traditional EFT has you tapping with the fingertips of your index finger and middle finger and with only one hand. Either hand works just as well. Most of the tapping points exist on either side of the body, so it doesn't matter which side you use, nor does it matter if you switch sides during the tapping; you can tap under your right eye and, later in the tapping, under your left arm. You can use both hands or only one hand, one, two or three fingers.

All methods work. Be mindful to use your finger tips, watch our for long nails and jewelry. If you have long nails, you can use your finger pads. Tap rather strongly, but do not hurt yourself! If you decide to use both hands, I recommend slightly alternating the tapping so that each hand is slightly out of phase with the other and you are not tapping with both hands simultaneously. This provides a kinaesthetic variant of the alternating eye movement work that is done in EMDR and may have some slight additional benefit.

 

When you tap on the points outlined below, you will tap about five to seven times. The actual number is not critical, but ideally should be about the length of time it takes for one full breath. Remove Your Glasses and Watch Prior to Tapping. Glasses and watches can mechanically and electromagnetically interfere with EF, it is advisable to remove them prior to tapping.

When using EFT in YIN Yoga, you can ask your students to focus on releasing a certain emotion that is related to the specific meridian.

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THEORY

The Meridian System from TCM

  • TCM Meridians Overview
  • Spleen Meridian & Earth Element
  • Lung Meridian & Mental Element
  • Kidney Meridian & Water Element
  • Liver Meridian & Wood Element
  • Heart Meridian & Fire Element
  • Pericardium Meridian Part of Fire Element
TCM Meridians

Meridians are invisible pathways in your body that carry energy, or Qi.

The deep postures of Yin Yoga work with meridians to boost your overall health and wellbeing. Western science is now discovering how Yin yoga may be impacting individuals on physical and psychological levels. On a psychological level, Yin yoga activates your parasympathetic nervous system, also known as your rest and digest system, that promotes relaxation. The long holds of Yin yoga also help you unwind physically, by releasing the tension in deeper tissues in your body, including your fascia (connective tissue). This is as opposed to engaging your muscles in more strenuous and dynamic methods of movement.To understand how Yin yoga affects the body and mind simultaneously, it helps to understand the function of various meridians in the human body.

Body meridians are channels inside your body that transport energy from one part to another. There are no anatomical structures to these channels and can only be felt through our subtle senses and self-inquiry. Meridians have a deep impact on how you think and feel, and your overall health and wellbeing. These channels of energy are also popularly called, Qi, life force, prana and healing energy.

According to Traditional Chinese medicine and the philosophies of Yin yoga, any obstruction in your energy pathways can result in imbalances in your physical, emotional and/or mental health. Meridian blocks are often caused by stress, trauma, injuries, poor diets and lack of rest, and not exercising enough.

On the other hand, when your meridian channels are open, the unobstructed flow of life force inside your body will lead to increased balance and positive energy.

Your body has 12 major meridians, out of which twelve are paired and the other two are single pathways. In a pair, there’s always one meridian that’s a Yin, where energy flows up the body, and Yang, where energy flows downward in the body. Yin and Yang are dual, yet opposite forces which converge as one. Your energy pathways are linked through the following order:

 

Lung (yin) and Large Intestine (yang)

Stomach (yang) and Spleen (yin)
Heart (yin) and Small Intestine (yang)

Bladder (yang) and Kidney (yin)

Pericardium (yin) and Triple Heater (yang)

Gall Bladder (yang) and Liver (yin)

Five Primary Functions of the Meridian System:
  • Animates the body

  • Keeps the organs up

  • Warms the body

  • Protects the body from external influences

  • Transforms one substance to another

The 12 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 divided equally into Yin or Yang groups, and are associated with different emotions (i.e. anger, fear, anxiety, worry, and excitement).

Regular meridians are often used for physical/emotional healing purposes, and commonly used in acupuncture or acupressure. When practiced correctly, the meridians can be stimulated through thoughts, touch, and movement.

One of the meridians, called The Triple Burner, which begins at the outer tip of the ring finger and goes along the back of the hand, wrist, forearm and upper arm, until it reaches the shoulder region where it branches off. This meridian is unique, as it gets its name from its 3 parts (or burners), known as the upper, middle, and lower burners: Located above the diaphragm, the upper burner regulates intake. It includes the head, heart, pericardium, throat, and lungs. Any time you are working these areas, you are working the triple burner meridian. The TB is responsible for our immunity, peace, clarity and consistency. There is a specific way to balance this meridian (set out below).

The Conception and Governing Vessel are the two centre line meridians that are responsible for carrying ancestral Qi. They affect consciousness and the spiral of our genetic code. This is a direct parallel to the complexity of the Nadi system. Both systems have different ways or structures to explain similar concepts of energy flow and movement. The Conception Vessel has a constant interplay with all aspects of the body, similar to how the nadis flow into and out of the Shushmna.

The Governing Vessel is the first energy current which develops after conception. It serves to govern the development of the other meridians, chakras, organs and the rest of the body's physiology. The spine itself is the material manifestation of this governing vessel energy.

The conception meridian runs along the front of our body, from the top of our spine, to the bottom of our spine, The Governing vessel runs along the back body. 

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MERIDIAN SYSTEM
Spleen Meridian
  • Creates our confidence 

  • Earth Element

  • Worry, discontentment

Location: Begins at the tip of the great toe. From there it runs along the medial aspect of the foot and continues up the inner leg, up across the groin, the stomach, through the diaphragm. It connects with the stomach and heart meridian. The spleen meridian is exclusive to the front body, it does not run through the back body.

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Yang Organ

 

Stomach: This meridian runs downward from the center of each eye, through your face, down the sides of your throat, across the inner part of your collar bones, through the center of your pectorals, down your abdomen, through hip flexors, down center of thighs, past knees, through ankles and connects with the second toe.

When the spleen energy is blocked

  • digestive and stomach problems • worry, poor concentration

  • forgetfulness

  • a cloudy thought process

  • addiction

  • attachment

  • obsession

  • gluttony

  • jealousy

  • self-pity

  • strong concern about opinions of others

  • stubbornness, low self-esteem, poor self image.

Spleen meridian is responsible for

  • The Official of Transportation and Distribution.

  • The spleen transforms food and drink, extracting Qi and essences which are then distributed to the other officials.

  • It houses our "thought" - it influences our capacity for thinking, concentrating, memorising and even worry.

Stomach meridian is responsible for

  • Our ability to take things in.

  • This may be the pure Chi of food or our ability to absorb information or even to receive love. • Affects our ability to nurture ourselves, others and our ability to feel full and satisfied.

Earth Element

• At the center of the elements.
• Earth element people are seen as the peacekeepers of the elemental types and tend to have round smiley faces.

• Can be voluptuous and may have a darker complexion.
• Enjoy showing how they care through food and tend to be great listeners and friends.
• Earth element's main focus is on digestion and overall energy production.

When in balance

• Strong, grounded, happy people that like to connect with people through food.

• They are often the ones that make sure everyone is having a good time.
• They tend to be closer to the ground, with thicker thighs.
• A smile predominates their round face.

• Creative and productive
• Worry, anxiety, stress and overthinking are emotions and behaviours that are common for people of this element.

 

Season & Life Stage

All elemental types would benefit from spending more time outdoors, but especially the earth type. Late summer and early fall is the time of year associated with the earth element and an earth element person should be feeling their best during this time of year. Adulthood is the period of life that correlates with earth element and is the time of life when it feels normal to cultivate a life.

 

Strengths

Realistic, stable, persistent, wise, trustworthy, kind, understanding, open minded, friendly, supportive, capable, creative, productive, peaceful, maternal, intuitive, patient, and strong digestion.

 

Weaknesses

Stubborn, indecisive, perfectionist, emotional, loners, inconsistent, moody, sacrificial, possessive, controlling, dependent, stubborn, spoiled, pessimistic, incessant worry, food sensitivities and digestive complaints.

How to Nourish your Earth Element

This element loves to be people pleasers. They want to be sure that everyone is happy and having a good time. They love to show their affection through food. Worry can be a detrimental emotion to earth element people. Over thinking about everything and everyone else can lead to digestive complaints. Earth element people would benefit from journaling, talking about and releasing their worries.

 

Essential Oils

Cardamom, frankincense, lemon, marjoram, myrrh, patchouli, peppermint, sandalwood.

 

Additional ways to nourish

  • Consume a diet of well cooked foods including grains, root vegetables, and small amounts of meat.

  • Get out and connect with the earth on a regular basis. (A walk in nature, gardening or other earthing techniques,

    like bare feet directly on the earth’s natural surface.) There is emerging research that shows connecting to the planet with bare skin is a beneficial health practice that helps to strengthen the immune system and improves the function of red blood cells.

  • Let go of worry and doubt!

Lung Meridian
  • Gives us inner strength

  • Metal Element

  • Grief, depression, sadness

Location: The lung meridian passes up the middle of throat the front of the shoulder, down the front of the arm along the outer border of the bicep muscle, to the base of the thumb, to finish at the corner of the thumbnail. The Lung Meridian is also exclusive to the front body.

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Yang Organ 

 

Large intestine, a similar path as the lung meridian, however runs down both the front and back of the arm, to the front and back of the index finger.

Blocked lung energy will result in breathing issues within nose throat and chest. This meridian begins deep in the solar plexus region, winds up past the stomach, crosses the diaphragm, divides, and enters the lungs.

The Lung Meridian is the receiver of pure Chi. It is our connection to the heavens and all that is spiritual. This meridian helps us to see and appreciate the quality in ourselves, others and the outside world - it is the source of true self esteem. The Large Intestine is in charge of the waste system for the body, mind and emotional self. The Large Intestine makes sure we have space for the new by getting rid of the old. This meridian affects our ability to let go of what is no longer needed in all aspects of our life.

 

Metal Element

Metal is symmetrical and structured. Metal element people tend to be taller and not very curvy. They have lighter complexions and often have small fine hairs all over their body. Meticulous, organized and scheduled are words often used to describe the metal element person. They like to be in a supervisory position and make sure things are running smoothly. Like a sword, metal element people are able to reach their full potential when they are forged under pressure early in life.

This type does well when they experience a more turbulent upbringing or experience a high pressure career early on. If their life is too easy they can become lazy and complaining. Metal element people tend to be very symmetrical in their physical features, they tend to have a lighter, drier skin, and square shoulders.

Grief and sadness can be a common response to stress. However metal element people don't dwell on the past, they would rather plan for the future. The lung and large intestines are the associated organs. The lungs and the entire respiratory system are responsible for creating the defensive Qi and immune system.

The large intestines are mainly for removing unwanted waste from the body. Modern research is showing that up to 60% of our immune function is based on our gut health, our microbiome, and how well we are digesting and absorbing our food. It is critically important that we take care of both the immune and digestive systems. Probiotics can be very beneficial to all elements but to metal types in particular.

The metal element should be the strongest during the fall. The great transition of life, aka menopause or “mid life crisis”, is during the time of the metal element. This is when women are going through menopause and men start to go through their transition as well. There may not yet be a name for this transition for men but there is definitely a time when men shift their thinking and feeling as well, usually somewhere between their 40's-60's. It is normal at this phase of life to shift from the desire to cultivate and build to more appreciation and enjoyment of what you have done.

Strengths

Realistic, hardworking, do well under pressure, strong, altruistic, loyal, systematic, determined, authoritative, responsible, fair, elegant, cultured, witty, eloquent, intuitive, meticulous, sensitive, multi talented, good speakers, strong voice and excellent at getting their point across.

Weaknesses

Stubborn, inflexible, judgmental, loner, over-competitive, enemy-makers, impulsive, image driven, proud, rough, show-off, vain, know-it-all, perfectionist, fickle, aloof, over-sensitive, weak digestion, allergies and chronic bronchial problems.

How to Nourish your Metal Element

Meticulous, scheduled and well thought out are ways to describe a typical metal element personality. They like organization and bring structure to any environment they are in. Grief and sadness are emotions that can damage this element. It is important for this type to release their grief and sadness when it comes up; holding onto it can lead to dis-ease. Tears, talking, and journaling are all good ways to release sadness.

Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the body as a response to stress. When there is excess cortisol in our body it can lead to inflammation, giving the liver a lot of extra work. Tears are one way to remove the cortisol molecule from the body in its whole form. So when you are stressed, crying can be the quickest way to get past it.

Essential Oils

Cypress, clary sage, eucalyptus, pine, thyme, tea tree.

Other ways to nourish the metal element are

  • Regular skin care routines such as exfoliating or body brushing;

  • Moderate exposure to direct sunlight; (around 30 minutes a day to at least half of the body)

  • Boost immune function by taking antioxidants, probiotics and vitamins, washing your hands, eating healthy,

    getting plenty of rest, and exercising regularly;

  • Dryness can be an issue for this group so be sure to drink plenty of fluids and moisturize your skin with natural

    oils such as coconut. 

Kidney Meridian
  • Gives us our uniqueness

  • Water Element

  • Fear 

Location: The kidney meridian begins below the small toe, then comes across the bottom of the foot, up the inner back side of the thighs, through front of the chest, and down through the stomach to the top of the pubic bone. 

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Yang Organ

 

Urinary bladder. The Bladder meridian runs through the left and right front sides of the forehead, and through the top of the head, down the back of the head, through the inner part of the scapula, down the sides of the spine, through the sacrum, the glute max, and piriformis, and down the center of the hamstring, through the back of the knees, the calves, lower leg, outside of the foot to the pinky toe.

The kidneys are the seat of courage and willpower, and therefore any impairment in kidney meridian results in feelings of fear and paranoia. The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste metabolites from the blood and moving them onward to the bladder

for excretion in urine.

This part of us is like water; when roused nothing can get in our way, when quiet - it can still erode a mighty mountain. When the Kidney is out of balance - we may not have the will to do anything.

The Bladder Meridian is where our vital energy is stored for times of need. This is our ability to hold on to ideas, to stay with things and to retain vital chi itself. If we are tired, it is good to look at the Bladder meridian.

The Water Element

Flowing, compassionate and having great depth of character describe the water element personality. They tend to be quiet and reserved, and conserve their energy. They prefer not to force themselves or their ideals on others. They tend to be tall with long fingers, toes and earlobes. They can detox easily through their skin and tend to sweat more than the other elements.

Fear is the emotion commonly associated with the water element and fear may be a common response to stress for water element people. The kidneys and urinary bladder are the representative organs for the water element; you can see why as they are chiefly responsible for water regulation in the body in both eastern and western medicine.

Winter is the time of year for the water element. The phase of life is after one has completed the transition in life until death. The kidneys are where our ancient or genetic information is stored. If creating humans is on your to do list, you will want to do all you can to nourish your kidneys. Your willpower is also said to come from your kidney energy and water element. If you feel you are lacking willpower, add some kidney nourishing activities to your routine.

Strengths

Innovative, courageous, realistic, adaptable, intelligent, adventurous, sociable, visionary, precise planners, out of the box thinkers, great debaters, idea generators, strong knees and backs, and the ability to flow with any situation.

 

Weaknesses

 

Drifter, easily unfocused, selfish, easily influenced, overly independent, moody, pessimistic, extremist, loner, easily unfocused, unpredictable, weak knees and back, and can be paralyzed by fear.

 

How to Nourish your Water Element

 

Water people can be elegant, graceful and easy going. When in good health they are great at facilitating the flow of energy and conversation between people. They make great negotiators because they are receptive as well as persistent and persuasive. Mountains are turned into sand by water. When out of balance water element people can be fearful. They might find themselves frozen or stuck in their life, paralyzed by fear.

Essential Oils

Cedar wood, geranium, ginger, juniper, thyme.

Here are some ways to nourish the water element

  • Be sure you are consuming enough sea salt in your diet;

  • Protect your low back and knees;

  • Stay hydrated;

  • Detoxify your kidneys occasionally, and be mindful of your urogenital health.

  • Become conscious of your fears, acknowledge and release them through talking, journaling, meditation or

    ceremony. 

Liver Meridian
  • Responsible for growth & renewal

  • Wood Element

  • Anger, frustration, aggression, annoyance 

The Liver Meridian starts inside of the big toenail, crosses the top of the foot, passes in front of the inside ankle and up the inner aspect of the leg. It continues upwards, passes the knee, continues along the inner thigh to the groin and pubic region. It connects with the conception vessel in the lower abdomen and further up enters both the liver and gallbladder, then dips into the rib cage, runs up through the throat, opening to the eye, and ends at the crown of the head.

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Yang Organ

 

Gallbladder: This meridian travels from the front of the body from around the 5th rib to the 8th rib, and top of the iliac crest, and then to the back body of the same location, through the glute med, down the outer thigh.

The Liver Meridian is responsible for filtering, detoxifying, nourishing, replenishing, and storing blood. It regulates the amount of blood circulating, withdrawing and storing it when resting or sleeping, and releasing it during exercise. An imbalance within the liver results in a lack of creativity, and feelings of anger, jealousy and rage.

The Liver Meridian is the meridian of planning and action. It is like the general of the army, it plans what needs to be done to move forward and does it ! If we have problems getting things done or procrastinate with our decisions this can come from the Liver meridian. The Gallbladder is the meridian of judgment and vision. It helps us to see the future, to have flexibility and hope. If we are having trouble with seeing things or if we are rigid in our attitudes this can come from the Gallbladder. With no vision for the future - there is no hope.

 

Wood Element

Like bamboo wood element people can be strong and flexible. They tend to be thinner with chiseled features and well defined muscles. They can be short tempered and prone to emotional outbursts as well. Wood elements tend to have more olive toned and oily skin than the other elements. The liver and the gallbladder are the organs related to the wood element. The liver is in charge of storing and moving the blood. It plays a big role in sleep and in the menstrual cycle of women. The gallbladder is seen as the judge of the body. When you are having difficulty making decisions in life it can be related to a gallbladder deficiency.

The Wood element rules the ligaments and tendons. It is said to flower in the eyes. The associated emotions are anger, resentment, jealousy, envy and frustration. Overindulgence is a problem for people of this element and they may tend to overdo things in many aspects of their life.

You can hear an excessive wood element person when you enter a crowded room as they are often the loudest ones. Spring is the time of year when this element should be its strongest. Birth to adolescence is the developmental phase of life that is dominated by the wood element.

Below is a brief list of traits that are associated with the wood element. In general strengths of each element are displayed when the person is healthy, living a balanced life, and has a good understanding of themselves and the world around them. The weaknesses of each element become more prevalent when a person is out of balance, sick, run down, not taking care of themselves, and has little introspection or understanding of the world around them.

Strengths

Resilient, quick witted, flexible, resourceful, shrewd, detailed, fierce, independent, determined, kind, loyal, generous, protective, physically strong, athletic, and persevering.
 

Weaknesses

Stubborn, manipulative, dependent, lazy, superficial, attention seeking, melodramatic, too sensitive, low self esteem, selfish, rigid, aggressive, vain, critical, weak ligaments and tendons, eye problems and addiction.

How to Nourish your Wood Element

Bamboo is a representative symbol for the wood element. Wood element people are strong, flexible and able to withstand the occasional storms that blow through life. They are versatile and sturdy. Because the liver and gallbladder are the representative organs for this element; wood element people need to take care of their liver and gallbladder. They can be prone to overindulgence in substances and behaviours; so they need to be mindful of their life choices.

 

Essential Oils

Bergamot, chamomile, grapefruit, sweet orange.

 

Best ways to nourish the wood element

  • Decrease your intake of toxic chemicals;

  • Avoid alcohol and stimulants;

  • Do a liver cleanse once or twice a year; (Our favourite one is described at the end of this book.)

  • Get at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night;

  • Be asleep between 1am and 3am;

  • Exercise moderately to vigorously at least 3 times a week;

  • Stretch your body gently everyday; and

  • Release any anger, resentment, jealousy or frustration; (Those emotions are as damaging as any other toxin). 

Heart Meridian
  • Responsible for how we express ourselves 

  • Fire Element

  • Joy 

The heart meridian originates from the heart, passes through the diaphragm to connect with the small intestine. It runs to the lung, then turns downward along the arm. It ends in the inner tip of the little finger. The heart meridian is exclusive to the front body.

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Yang Organ

 

Small intestine. The SI meridian runs from the pinky finger nail, up the back inner side of the arm, through the scapulas, and up the last part of the traps.

Imbalanced heart energy will result in sleep issues, anxiety, shortness of breath, excessive sweating. The heart meridian reveals itself through the brightness in the eyes, rules the blood and directs circulation - it is the House of the Spirit.

The Heart Meridian is like the king or queen. It is the ruler of the kingdom and as such, holds the space for the other officials to do their job. As with any government if it is weak the whole kingdom feels insecure and on shaky ground. For us this may feel like anxiety, as nothing feels safe or secure. The Small Intestine is the sorter of pure from impure. Whether that is from food, sound around us or the nightly news; it sorts out what we need to take in. It helps us not be in a muddle.

 

Fire Element

Fair skinned with a reddish complexion are some of the physical characteristics of the fire element. This person may have a pointier head and delicate features. Fire element types are also known for their robust personalities.

The fire element is unusual in that it has four organs associated with it: Heart, Small Intestines, Pericardium and San Jiao. The heart is seen as the emperor in Traditional Chinese Medicine. You do not treat the heart directly; instead you strengthen the other organs so they will in turn nourish the heart.


The pericardium is the heart’s protector. The small intestines help us to sort things out both from a nutrition and emotional perspective. The San Jiao is an organ in Oriental Medicine; described as a bag that envelops all of the organs and helps to increase communication between the organs, systems and elements.

The emotion associated with the fire element is joy and the ability to experience happiness and contentment in our lives. A fire element person can be boisterous and excitable. They tend to focus on their own needs, they like the finer things in life, and to be the center of attention. They can have red hair, red complexion, and delicate features.

 

The cardiovascular system is part of the fire element. Those with heart disease have an imbalance in their fire element and would benefit from nourishing their fire element.

Summer is the season of the fire element. The developmental phase is from adolescence to early adulthood. Below is a list of strengths and weaknesses associated with the fire element.

 

Strengths

 

Creative, generous, expressive, optimistic, confident, friendly, energetic, committed, loyal, considerate, intelligent, loving, charismatic, and the ability to fully appreciate and enjoy life.

 

Weaknesses

 

Egotistical, cautious, unrealistic, aloof, self-centered, insensitive, habitual, narrow minded, unstable, critical, complainer, needy, and prone to cardiovascular disease.

How to Nourish your Fire Element

Fire element people can be prone to inflammation and cardiovascular disease. In order to prevent pain and disease be sure to eat cooling foods, greens and bitters. Additional ways to nourish the fire element are:

  • Rest and take it easy regularly;

  • Protect your cardiovascular system with essential fatty acids in your daily diet;

  • Exercise moderately and frequently like walking, yoga or cycling; and • Ingest antioxidants like vitamin C, selenium and Coenzyme Q10.

 

Essential Oils

Cardamom, frankincense, lemon, marjoram, myrrh, patchouli, peppermint, sandalwoodJasmine, lavender, neroli, rose, rosemary, ylang ylang. 

Pericardium (yin) / Triple Burner / Warmer Meridian (yang) / related to the Fire Element 

The Pericardium is known as the ‘King’s Bodyguard’, the pericardium is the heart’s protective sack. In Chinese Medicine it is a Fire organ whose special job is to protect the heart. Not only does the pericardium physically protect the heart, its energy also protects the heart energetically from damage and disruption by excessive emotions from other organs and external sources. In the Chinese system of health, extreme emotional outbursts are seen as powerful disruptors of balance and a major cause of disease. Without the pericardium to protect it, the heart could be gravely injured by every-day emotional fluctuations.   The pericardium is located through the palm, inside of middle finger, up the inner arm and to the outer edge of the pectorals.  

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Yang meridian

 

Triple Warmer (aka triple burner), runs from the nail of the 4th (ring) finger, up the forearm, where it transitions to the back body to follow the path of the Pericardium, however is slightly more toward the outer side of the body.

Pericardium Consciousness Issues


Heart Protection, Joy, Vulnerability, Love, Self Love, Self-Acceptance, Self-Expression, Relation to self, Relation to Others, Openness.

Signs of Imbalance in the Pericardium Meridian

Pericardium imbalance can manifest as chronic damaging relationship patterns, chest discomfort due to inflammation, or liquid around the heart. Other signs of imbalance include

  • Guarded behavior

  • Relationship fears

  • Excessive vulnerability

  • Too much joy

  • Incessant laughter

  • Giggling out of control

  • Mental Disturbance

  • Phobias

  • Sexual perversion

  • Inappropriate intimacy or fear of intimacy

  • Depression

  • Stiff Neck

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Vertigo

A pericardium excess can give rise to uncontrollable laughter, while deficiency can manifest as profound sadness

The Yang Organ is called the Triple Burner (or warmer). In TCM, this is considered a meridian “special concept”, as there is no corresponding organ in western medicine. The triple burner is actually a collective term for the upper, middle and lower burner. The Chinese word "triple burner" actually means "three parts which burn or scorch." The pericardium refers to the the membrane enclosing the heart, consisting of an outer fibrous layer and an inner double layer of membrane.

The triple warmer meridian starts on the outside of the ring finger, traces up the arm, over the shoulder, up the neck, to the base of the ear and around it to the temple, and ends at the outer corner of the eyebrow.

How to soothe the triple warmer

  • Place your fingers at your temples. Hold for one deep breath, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth;

  • On another deep breath, slowly slide your fingers up and around your ears, smoothing the skin while maintaining some pressure;

  • On the out breath, slide your fingers down and behind your neck and hang them on your shoulders;

  • Push your fingers into your shoulders, and when you are ready drag them over the top of your shoulders and

    smooth them to the middle of your chest over your heart.

  • Reduce excess energy and bring a sense of relaxation and calm to the body. It is very helpful right before going to

    sleep.

  • Take a deep breath in;

  • Using the opposite hand, begin at the temple, trace down over ear, around to the shoulder, to the elbow and

    around to the 4th (ring) finger;

  • Pull off finger;

  • Trace the meridian slowly 3 times;

  • Repeat on the opposite side.

  • Calm anxiety and worry:

  • On the back side of your hand, find the groove between the ring and pinky fingers;

  • Tap into the groove while thinking of stress; also you can simply rest your flat hand on your heart and tap in the

    groove.).

  • This exercise is helpful if one is feeling overwhelmed or not sleeping well. This exercise is good to do when you

    wake up in the middle of the night and cannot fall back to sleep:

  • Place a hand behind your neck, notice the soft spot indent in the center of your neck. Move to the outside after

    you go over the tendons, there is a slight indent, those are the neurovascular points;

  • Gently hold the area with a flat hand. Do not press in. Hold the area for at least 2 minutes;

  • Repeat with the other side.

  • A calming method suitable for anytime of day.

  • Place LEFT hand on your right rib cage (on the spleen about 6 inches down);

  • Place RIGHT hand on the back of the left elbow (on the triple warmer meridian);

  • Take several gentle inhales and exhales;

  • Repeat on both sides. 

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Lungs

A pair of spongy, air filled organs

Expand and contract as we breathe

Help move fresh oxygen into our body, and eliminate waste gases

 

Large Intestine (descending colon)

The large bowel or colon 

The last part of the digestive system

Water is absorbed here

The remaining waste is stored as x before being removed by defecation

Kidneys

Remove waste and extra water and toxins from the blood

Each kidney is a system of millions of tiny filters called nephrons

A nephron has two parts: The glomerulus (the first part of the filter), that strains the blood cells and large molecules from the toxins and fluid, the fluid and toxins then pass through then go through the tubule.  The Tubule collects minerals that the body needs and puts them back into the bloodstream and filters out more toxins.

 

Bladder

Part of the urinary system (renal system)

Produces, stores and eliminates urine

The kidneys make urine by filtering waste and extra water from the blood, it then travels from the kidneys through two tubes (ureters) and fills the bladder

 

Liver

Part of the digestive system

The body’s second largest organ (next to the skin)

Plays an important role in detoxifying the body

Regulate blood levels of amino acids which form the building blocks of proteins 

Converts excess glucose into glycogen for storage, which is later converted back to glucose for energy

Produces cholesterol and special proteins that help carry fats through the body

Produces bile

 

Gallbladder 

Part of the digestive system 

A small pouch that sits under the liver

Stores bile that is produced by the liver 

 

Small Intestine (ascending colon)

20 feet long and one inch in diameter 

It’s job is to absorb most of the nutrients from what we eat and drink before it passes to the large intestine