Like Yoga in India, Traditional Chinese Medicine is an ancient holistic system of healing. At its foundation is an understanding that the universe consists of a subtle substance called Qi (pronounced “Chee”). This Qi affects all things in our body and mind. We can learn how to work with Qi through Yoga poses for emotional release and to benefit our emotional health.
In this system our organs have specific functions and spheres of influence. Each organ system has certain emotions associated with them when the organ in in balance and out of balance. The organs also have lines of energy that run in and out of them circulating the Qi of that organ to other parts of the body.
If we know how to move the body in particular ways we can change the state of our emotions very quickly. Yoga poses can be used to effect this type of change. It stretches the channels throughout the body and it physically compresses and releases the organs in your torso, both of which changes how the energy flows.
If you know where these lines run in the body and what organs they are associated with, you can do personalized yoga sessions to change how you feel and release your emotions in yoga.
There are five main organs in Chinese Medicine. Each has an emotion that it contains when we are in balance and one when we are out of balance. If you know both, then you can analyze the emotional health of certain parts of your body.
According to Chinese medicine the Heart holds the deepest part of our minds. When our Heart’s are in balance we feel at peace; when it is out of balance we feel nervousness and anxiety. The Heart meridian starts in the armpits and runs down the inside of the pinky side of the arm. If we find ourselves anxious and nervous, yoga poses that stretch the inside of the arm can help to balance out these emotions.
Yoga poses for the heart: Purvottasana (Upward Plank Pose), Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Wheel), Natarajasana (Dancer Pose).
According to Chinese medicine the Spleen holds our intellect. When our Spleen is in balance we feel trust; when it is out of balance we feel worry and obsession. The Spleen meridian starts in the big toe and runs down the inside of the leg close to shin bone and ends at our sides. If we find ourselves worry and obsessed poses that stretch the inside front of our leg will balance us out.
Yoga poses for the spleen: Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Bend), Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose).
According to Chinese medicine the Lungs hold our body awareness. When our Lungs are in balance we feel integrity; when it is out of balance we feel grief and sadness. The Lung meridian starts in the armpits and runs down the inside of the thumb side of the arm. If we find ourselves sad, poses that stretch the inside thumb side of our arms will balance us out.
Yoga poses for the lungs: Uttanasana (Forward Fold) with our hands clasped and arms hanging, Paravritta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose), Bharadvajasana (Bharadvaj’s Twist) with the hand tucked under the thigh palm down.
According to Chinese medicine the Kidneys contain our deepest essence. When our Kidneys are in balance we feel the emotion of wisdom; when they are out of balance we feel fear and insecurity. The Kidney meridian starts on the bottoms of the feet and runs up the inside of the leg close to the hamstrings. If we find ourselves fearful poses that stretch the inside of our legs close to our hamstrings balance us out.
Yoga poses for the kidneys: Janu Shirasana (Head to Knee Forward Bend), Paschimottansana (Seated Forward Bend), Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose/Splits).
According to Chinese medicine the Liver holds our spirit body. When our Liver is in balance we feel the emotions of love and kindness; when it is out of balance we feel anger and rage. The Liver meridian starts inside of the big toe and runs through the center of the inside of the leg up to the ribs. If we find ourselves angry, poses that stretch the inside of our legs and ribs will balance us out.
Yoga poses for the liver: Uptavishta Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Fold), Samakonasana (Straight Angle Pose), Parighasana (Gate Pose).
Think of your yoga practice as an experiment and your mat as the lab. Take your time with poses and see which ones affect you how. Build on this experience slowly and steadily. Soon you will be able to change your emotions very quickly with the correct practice for you.
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