Yin yoga, the kidney meridian and energy balance

Yin yoga kidney meridian yoga retreat

Yin yoga is a lovely quiet style of yoga, which has many benefits for our health. The core premise of Yin is to hold each position (asana), in a relaxed manner, so that instead of working with the muscles, we focus instead on the connective tissue. Asanas are generally held between 3 to 5 minutes (although can be more or less depending upon experience and the person doing the asana).

Our theme this month is REST, one of the pillars of La Crisalida’s holistic health and wellbeing programme. Yin yoga can really help us with rest, as it does not take a huge amount of energy to get into each position. When I practice, or teach Yin, I encourage people to find the place of stillness in their body and mind, to let go of judgement, to come into the present moment and to consciously relax the muscles. All of this contributes to the process of rest.

If you are new to Yin yoga, you might like to read our introductory article: What is Yin yoga, which explains how to practice this lovely style. 

Kidney meridian theory

In Chinese medicine, energy, Chi or Qi, flows throughout our body through channels called meridians. (The equivalent in the Indian Yoga tradition is prana which flows through energy channels called nadis).

Meridians and organs are paired in Chinese medicine, so the kidney meridian (and kidney organ) works together with the urinary bladder meridian (and the urinary bladder organ). The kidney meridian begins in the little toe in each foot, then runs along the sole of the foot, up the legs inside our knees and thighs. It enters the body close to the tailbone, connecting with the kidneys, before continuing upwards through the lungs and throat to end at the root of the tongue.

Daoism believes that the kidneys are the home of our essence energy, Jing, which is the core of growth and decline.

Signs that your kidney energy might be unbalanced or depleted include

  • When you feel like you just can not finish a task, or feel like you have no say in things.
  • Having lower back pain or a weak lower back
  • Feeling fearful, for example fear of heights, death, new places.
  • Holding onto things and a lack of trust in ourselves and others

When we are stressed, trying to do too much, or forcing ourselves to keep going (even though we feel exhausted), it is said that kidneys have to work overtime, as they try to support us. Making 15 minutes to practice Yin, can help us to restore this energy and infuse us with more energy.

20-minute Yin practice for kidney energy balance

Below is a suggested 20-minute Yin practice, designed to restore your energy balance, focused on the kidney meridian.

Start your practice seated or reclining.

Three-part breathing

Two minutes of three-part breathing to become present. (For instructions click here: restorative yoga – how to use the breath). 

Gently open your eyes, we are ready to move into our first asana.

Yin yoga dragon asana yoga retreat

Dragon (left side, right side)

Dragon works with our kidney and urinary bladder meridians (as well as with the liver and gall bladder meridians). It can reach deep into the hip joint and you can also feel this through your abdomen.

To get into Dragon, start on all fours, then step the left foot forward towards the front of the mat. Allow your hips to move forward as you move the left leg forward. Place your foot directly beneath the knee. You can use blocks to support you (as shown in the photo) and have a blanket beneath the knee on the floor. Allow the right knee to move behind you as far as is comfortable.

Stay here for 3 minutes. Close your eyes, and remember to breathe.

To come out, move your weight backwards, and then move the left foot back towards your body. Rest in child’s pose for 30-60 seconds (or go onto your back and hug knees to chest).

Swap sides – move back to all fours, then move the right foot forward, adjusting and supporting your body as needed. Stay for 3 minutes, then release back into child’s pose. 

Yin yoga reclining twist yoga retreat

Yin reclining twist (left side, right side)

The reclining twist is a wonderful asana for bringing us back into balance, to re-energise our body, mind and spirit.

Lying in savasana, bend your knees and bring them towards your body. Allow the knees to drop down towards the left side. Keep both shoulders on the floor – use blankets or props to support beneath the knees if your shoulders come off the floor. If this asana is comfy for you, cross the knees first, before bringing them to the floor. Gently face the opposite direction to your knees. Close your eyes and stay here for 3 minutes.

Come back to the centre, rest in savasana for 30-60 seconds. Then repeat on the right-hand side.  


To complete this short practice, return to savasana, lying on your back. Allow the feet and arms to fall outwards and close your eyes. Place a cushion beneath the knees to ease any tightness or pressure in your back. You can stay here, focusing on your breathing for up to five minutes.  

Read more about Yin yoga on our blog

We have many other articles about Yin yoga and it´s health benefits on our health and wellbeing blog. Here are a few you might be interested in checking out:

  • Ten-minute home Yin practice – a sequence for you to practice at home, starting with a breathing exercise and a couple of asanas. 
  • Yin yoga can help to cleanse and detox our body. Read more and try some asanas to support your cleanse in our article: Yin yoga asanas for your detox.
  • If you wish to explore more about the link between Yin yoga and meridians, we have an article on Yin yoga for liver health and consider how practicing Yin yoga can help to sooth anger. 


Yoga retreats at La Crisalida

Yoga forms an important part of our holistic health and wellbeing programme, so we offer at least one yoga class every day of the week. Whilst the main yoga style is Hatha, we offer Yin and restorative classes and sometimes Yin-Yang, a delicious combination of movement and stillness. Read more about yoga at La Crisalida Retreats here. 

I hope you enjoy this short practice and find a place inside yourself to rest.


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).