Traditional Chinese Medicine and Yin Yoga

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Yin Yoga

With time, the Western world has come to adopt the healing practices of the East more widely. While the Western approach to health has been established over the past few centuries, both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and yogic approaches to health and wellbeing, like Ayurveda, date back thousands of years. While Traditional Chinese Medicine, yoga, and Ayurveda vary in their approach, ideologies, practices, and origins, these Eastern practices have been widely adopted in the West to help heal and establish a sense of internal equilibrium. The wisdom of the past is becoming more widespread as time progresses, as those in the West are seeking answers beyond the sometimes limited approach towards wellness in the Western world.

The practice of yin yoga sits at the intersection of yoga and Traditional Chinese Medicine. By intertwining these two disciplines, we receive optimal benefits from both practices. Yin yoga was born of Taoist philosophy. It embraces the philosophy of yin and yang– the belief in equal and oppositional forces- in life and in the Universe to maintain balance, health, and vitality. It teaches that these opposing forces are complementary rather than contradictory and together they establish balance. Yin is characterized by stillness, passivity, and surrender, while yang encompasses the qualities of action, dynamic movement, and strength. We need both yin and yang practices in our lives to exist in a state of balance. A yin-yang yoga teacher training in Bali is a great place to explore and experience the contrasting qualities of these practices.

To fully receive the benefits of yin yoga and to teach classes that are optimally beneficial for your yoga students, it is essential to understand the meridians. Meridians are one of the fundamental components of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Meridians, according to this ancient system, are energetic pathways (similar to Nadis in yoga) that exist throughout the body and serve as channels for Qi, or vital life force, to flow.  In this line of teaching an imbalance or stagnation in these meridians can lead to disharmony physically or mentally and ultimately lead to disease.  Yin yoga targets these various meridians with the intention of unblocking stuck or stagnant Qi.  By holding yin yoga poses for an extended period of time and embracing the yin approach of softening and surrendering with minimal physical effort, balance is established internally. This internal balance helps us feel more at ease in our bodies and our lives.

A few of the key yin poses you will learn about when practicing yin yoga or partaking in a 200 hour yoga teacher training in Bali are dragon pose, sphinx pose, and butterfly pose. By taking meridians into account, we increase the efficacy of our practice. Best of all, these come under the Yoga Alliance Certification. By applying healthy stress in a targeted area of the body in a yin yoga pose, we can help stimulate a particular meridian and its associated organ that travels through that area. According to TCM, the stimulation of these organs also helps foster emotional resilience and a deeper, steadier breath. Sphinx pose for example stimulates the kidney and urinary bladder meridians. Through opening the chest and compressing the lower back gently, kidney function is enhanced, the adrenal glands are nourished, and the body and mind become more resilient in cases of physical or mental stress. The butterfly pose targets the inner thighs and groin, promoting mobility and flexibility in these regions. It stimulates the liver meridian in the inner thigh helping to detoxify the system and assist the smooth flow of Qi around the body.  Dragon pose stimulates the spleen and stomach meridians in the thigh of the back leg, and through doing so, aids digestion and relieves stagnation in these organs. Each of these poses can be added to your yin yoga practice to encourage a greater sense of balance and ease in your body and your life.   You can learn how to target specific meridians and organ systems and learn how to become a yoga instructor.

While there are countless styles of yoga that exist today and a vast array of practices that fall under the umbrella of TCM, by practicing yin yoga you can optimize the benefits from both when you understand the meridian system. You can learn to understand how to sequence a yin yoga sequence for yourself or for your yoga students, taking into account the meridian system. You can learn more about the meridian system and how it relates to yin yoga with Inner Yoga Training’s yin yoga teacher training in Bali.

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