Yin yoga can improve your liver health, soothe anger and leave you feeling calmer. How does it do that, we hear you ask? Read on to find out!
Following on from our earlier article introducing Yin Yoga, here we look in more depth at one of the benefits, how yin yoga in particular can improve the health of our liver and soothe anger.
The liver is the largest gland in our body. Whilst the heart is physiologically responsible for flow of blood throughout our body, the liver is responsible for the amount of blood that flows. So, it makes sense that when our liver is in good health, we are in good health.
Yin yoga has roots in traditional Chinese medicine, which originated thousands of years ago. Chinese medicine works on the premise that our body holds a dynamic but unseen energy system, this energy is called Chi. Chi flows through (invisible) pathways, called meridians. These meridians run throughout the body, meaning all our organs and tissues are interconnected. Balanced chi means balanced health. Any blocks in the meridians can lead to unbalanced chi and ill-health, either in specific parts of the body or moreover general ill-health.
The Taoists believe that the liver is the home of the soul (“Shen”) and has particular qualities:
• Energetic: the liver regulates the overall flow of energy in our body
• Emotional: as the liver balances our inner environment, it also helps balance our emotions
• Mental: the liver gives us the ability to adapt and change
Signs and symptoms of imbalanced liver chi occur on the three levels of energy, emotion and mental and include:
• Weak muscles or stiffness
• Lower back pain and abdominal pain
• Sore hands and feet
• Problems with the eyes
• Irregular emotions, particularly angry outbursts or the inability to express anger
• Rash impulsiveness
• Awkward social behaviour
• Frustration and irritation
• Inability to think ahead or plan
• Inflexibility of attitude
The liver meridians starts near the big toe and runs upward toward the head to the eyes. The counter meridian is the gall bladder, which runs roughly from head to toe.
In yin yoga we hold the asanas (poses) for up to five minutes. These asanas stimulate acupressure points along the liver meridian (as well as other meridians). By holding some asanas, we temporarily reduce or stop the flow of chi allowing it to be diverted to other areas; when the asana is released, chi can reflow quickly through these areas, flushing them out. The asanas particularly good for encouraging liver chi include sphinx and saddle (similar to reclining hero in Hatha), as well as forward bends like dragon fly (similar to wide-leg forward fold) and twists like seated twist pose.
There is also a belief that when the liver is healthy, we find it easy to be kind to others. Therefore, it makes sense to believe that being kind to others can help to heal or balance the liver.
Practicing any yoga style regularly can help to balance your liver chi. The benefit of practicing yin yoga on a regular basis is that it also cultivates our attitude of kindness towards ourself. Being kind to ourselves can help to soothe anger and means we are more likely to be kind to others.
So, combine regular yoga practice with wholesome food and meditation, reduced (or no) alcohol, little (or no) caffeine and help to bring your liver chi into balance. We are sure that soon negative anger will no longer be part of your life.
About the author
- Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).