Thoughts From Our Practitioners

Yoga for Balancing with the Seasons

Acupuncturists and other practitioners often advise their clients on lifestyle interventions that can enhance the benefits of their sessions. Yoga is frequently one of those suggestions. In spite of the recent surge in popularity of yoga, myths persist about it and some people are reluctant to try it.

One common misperception is that yoga is just for young, flexible people. Another is that yoga is just a form of deep relaxation without any physical demand. There are many styles of yoga and teaching approaches to accommodate students of all ages and ability levels.

One style of yoga offered at Four Gates is Yin yoga, which complements the practice of acupuncture. According to Sarah Powers, author of Insight Yoga, "yin yoga is slow and steady, often stationary. with a component of surrender, while yang yoga activity is mobile, maintains a core strength that requires appropriate effort." She explains that a balance of the two is optimal.

Powers states, "as we age, our natural range of motion lessens, partially due to the decreased synovial fluid in the joint capsules... Yin yoga complements a more active practice helping to prevent joint rigidity and immobility, helping to enliven degenerative tissues while simultaneously nourishing the meridians."
She puts forth three main principles in Yin postures:

  • Come in to the shape of the pose to an appropriate edge. This means in a non-aggressive and sensitive manner.
  • Become still and soft in the muscles, releasing into gravity. This will nourish the joints.
  • Hold each pose for an appropriate length of time. This nourishes the meridians.
Whatever style of yoga we are practicing, it is imperative that we adhere to the practice of ahimsa, or non-harming. We need to listen to our bodies and our instincts so we do not force ourselves to attain a specific outer appearance and risk injury. This provides an additional benefit of helping us develop mindfulness and awareness of our prana, also known as chi, the precious life force energy. Powers reminds us that "where our awareness goes, our prana flows."

Our yoga practice, like our diet, changes throughout the year to help us balance with the seasons. While we may have an overall framework or structure to our yoga routine, it evolves becoming relatively more yin or yang. For example, in late summer, the spleen and stomach are the organ systems that correspond with the earth element and the principals of digestion. The emphasis is on nourishment on all levels. The featured poses stimulate the spleen meridian along the inner legs and the stomach channels down the front of the belly, according to Powers.

If you have a steady yoga practice and are curious about exploring yin poses, go to http://www.yogajournal.com/ and search yin yoga. Powers has a sequence that is a good introduction to yin yoga and the accompanying article explains the general priciples. For those who are new to yoga or have physical challenges, seek a yoga teacher who has experience with your condition as well as credentials and experience teaching yoga.

With a little investment of time and energy you can develop a personal yoga practice that will enhance the benefits of acupuncture and help you feel balanced and refreshed as the seasons change. Discover the reward of feeling nourished on all levels!