In today’s world, everything is fast-paced – whether it is work, education or physical exertion. This is where Yin Yoga can act as a remedy to our lifestyles, overflowing with stress and overwork. Unlike vigorous, Yang-dominated yoga forms that are so popular today, Yin Yoga is a more comfortable contrast to modern-day practices, with its intensely restful, yet long-held postures.
Yin encourages you to slow down and immerse yourself in a form of calm and mental immobility that can result in a deeper expansion in your consciousness.
Inspired by philosophies of Traditional Chinese Medicine, modern-day Yin Yoga primarily focuses on your body’s meridians. Meridians are invisible pathways in your body that carry energy, or Qi. The deep postures of Yin Yoga work with your meridians to boost your overall health and wellbeing.
In addition, 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.
What are Body Meridians?
Body meridians are channels inside your body that transport energy from one part to another. 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 fourteen 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)
- Conception Vessel
- Governing Vessel
What Happens When Your Meridians are Blocked?
Energy is continuous. This includes the energy or Qi inside your body. Your Qi flows continuously from one energy channel to another. Even though the flow of energy is your body continues every 24 hours, each energy pathway has a peak time where it’s at its optimum level, also referred to as meridian clocks.
Blockages in your meridians will present themselves in the form of physical symptoms, signifying that the energy flow to this region needs to be enhanced.
For example, your lungs are responsible for the intake of air and respiration and any blockage in your lung meridian can result in viral of bacterial infections, such as colds or the flu. Symptoms of lung meridian blockages may include coughing, problems with your sense of smell, congestion issues and so on.
Your stomach plays a role in digestion of food. It utilizes energy to transport food from the spleen to your large intestines. Blockages in your stomach meridian may result in digestive issues. Your large intestine responsible for removing waste may show signs of blockages in its meridian via stomach cramping, diarrhea, constipation, gas and so on.
How Yin Yoga Clears Your Meridians
Yin yoga focuses on targeting the body’s meridians and stimulating your energy pathways. Your body is primarily made up of fascia or connective tissue. Each organ and tissue in the body is held together via your fascia. Yin yoga engages the fascia in your body to balance internal organs and remove any obstructions in your meridians.
Yin yoga is different to many other yoga practices because it focuses on holding certain postures for up to 5 minutes at a time. This not only lengthens your fascia, but also creates balance in your internal systems and strengthens your entire body, making you less susceptible to symptoms associated with meridian blockages.