In the last part of my Yin Yoga series we will discuss the importance and significance of the Stomach and Spleen meridian lines as well as how to get the most out of effective, mindful, and consistent Yin Yoga exercise.
If you’ve had any chance to try any of the poses, you’ll notice that the majority of the strain and development doesn’t come from the pose itself but from the prolonged practice of holding them. Remember that this is a form of deep stretching and meditation meant to gradually lengthen and open the joints and increase flexibility. Unlike other forms of yoga that rely on extreme poses in shorter bursts of time, this is a much slower practice. The difference is while the extreme poses stress and develop the muscles, Yin Yoga’s slower practice focuses on the tendons, ligaments, and the fascia.
Improvement in these areas requires more consistent practice, and to really see a tremendous amount of change requires a consistent practice over a period of time. As little as 30 days and as much as 100 days can make a world of difference. What I am currently doing, and what I would recommend, is to begin with a commitment of 30 days consecutively. Each sequence is only about ten or so poses, and even at the max of 5 minutes (though benefits can be seen with as little as one) you are still only looking at about an hour’s worth of meditative practice or as little as ten minutes.
One of the poses that has consistently killed me has been saddle. Surprisingly it wasn’t my back that felt the pressure but the stretching in my feet. When I started I could barely sit on my feet and even begin to lean back. At this point I am further back and supporting myself on my hands with straight arms. I am hoping to eventually move to my elbows, and then a full saddle. The importance is to remain consistent, keep practicing, and to never pass judgement on progress.
After the 30 days has passed you will see a vast improvement in flexibility and health. After that, the 100 days challenge does not necessarily need to be consecutive. Set a reasonable goal such as 100 days of practice within 120 or 150 days. Again the most important thing is consistency, mindfulness, and no judgement. Allow yourself to have days when you are not able to practice. And choose based on what your body tells you you need. Remember that certain poses are good for certain organs and meridians. Pick and choose based on energy, emotions, and what you feel you need. The stomach and spleen poses we are about to discuss are consistently on my routine because I have always had a weak stomach since I was a child and the spleen is important for my work and keeping energy levels up.
The stomach (yang) and spleen (yin) meridians are associated with late Summer. The stomach of course receives, stores, and partially digests food particles which it then passes to the small intestines and spleen. On a more metaphysical level the stomach represents how well one can assimilate joy and contentment. It absorbs our thoughts and mental attitudes about life and the Earth and helps to determine where we stand. How well we as a person nurture, nourish, and feel secure about ourselves and our lives dictates how well the stomach can balance and support the flow of chi. When we are balanced we feel centered, grounded, and fulfilled. Imbalances in the stomach meridian can result in lethargy, weakness, and digestive problems.
The spleen, including the pancreas, is about storing blood, forming antibodies, and fighting off harmful bacteria. It is concerned with the absorption, transformation, and transportation of food, water, and energy (chi). When we are deficient in spleen chi we feel sluggish and fatigued both physically and mentally. the spleen is also said to house the thought processes, and if we think too much the spleen may suffer. Over-thinking (like worrying) leads to spleen chi deficiency.
Dragon Pose: Similar to the Swan Pose except the front leg is not twisted and resting on the floor but out in front, foot flat on the ground and the knee either in line with the ankle or a bit forward. Back leg is straight and resting on the thigh.
Saddle Pose: This pose stretches the feet, ankles, thighs, and arches the lumbar. Start by sitting on the top part of your foot and feel the stretch. If it’s okay, sit fully back and feel the stretch in your thighs. If still comfortable, go ahead and lean fully back and either support yourself on your hands or go fully back to your elbows.
Dragonfly Pose: From the top resembles a dragonfly with its long body and two sets of wings represented by the arms and legs. From a seated position spread your legs out to your sides and fall forward. Spread your arms out as much as you can and try to lean forward and lie flat. If needed, prop either your hips up to help the legs or your elbows up to help your arms.
Corpse Pose: Lie flat on your back, with legs slightly apart, arms at your side, with palms up and fingers spread. Use this time to relax, focus on breath, and take a mental inventory of your body and mind. Reflect on any sensations that came up during yoga. What body parts responded well, what rebelled. What emotions are you stirring up in this long and mindful practice. Make no judgements. Allow everything to be.
That’s it! All the meridian lines discussed in Yin Yoga and a bit of insight in the mental and physical states while practicing. I hope this was informative and interesting and whether you have had prior yoga experience or not, this is a wonderful style of yoga exercise and meditation that is a bit easier on the body but with far reaching benefits.
Man: 39 Loneliness: 16