The liver and gallbladder
In Chinese Medicine, each season corresponds to different organs and their meridians (subtle energy channels through which chi flows). The liver and gallbladder are connected to the season of spring. Amongst its many functions, the liver stores important nutrients, produces bile, and through its processing of unusable substances and chemicals for elimination, it can be considered an organ of detoxification. The gallbladder stores and secretes bile to aid the digestion process.
This short yin yoga sequence helps to restore the healthy flow of chi through these meridians to support the body’s metabolism and its natural ability to eliminate unwanted toxins and waste products.
Guidelines for practice:
– come into each posture until you feel your edge, working to about 60-70% of your maximum stretch or range of motion.
– resolve to stay still whilst focusing on your breath and your present experience.
– hold each pose for 3-5 minutes; it is best to use a timer. Rest between postures to feel the after effects.
– Lie down on your back, bend your knees and let them fall open so the soles of the feet rest together. Relax the inner thighs & groin.
– If this is too intense, place support (yoga blocks or cushions under the outer thighs. For more intensity if your hips are open, place a block underneath the sacrum so that the pelvis is elevated (as pictured).
– To come out of the pose, use your hands to help the thighs back together, then rest by taking the feet wider than your hips and allowing the knees to knock together.
– Elbows should be no wider than shoulder distance apart and just slightly forwards of your shoulder. Bring the palms together. Allow your shoulderblades to draw back and down.
– Keep forearms & elbows grounding down with just enough effort to keep the frame through the shoulders but then relax your belly, buttocks & thighs.
– If this is too intense on the lower back, take the elbows forwards.
– For the last minute or so, if you want more intensity, try seal pose: lay your palms down flat, turn your hands slightly outwards and position them a little wider than your shoulders. Straighten your arms. Relax the belly.
– To come out, slowly lower down so you are lying flat on the floor and stay for a minute or so. Then move into Child’s pose for at least one minute.
Seated twist– From sitting, tuck your left foot to the outside edge of you right buttock and place the sole of your right foot to the outside edge of your left knee. If both sitting bones are not in contact with the floor or if your left knee is complaining, then you can do the pose with your left leg straight and the right foot placed to the outside of your left knee
– Move into the twist by lengthening your spine, take your right hand round behind your tailbone and use your left arm to wrap around your right knee. Rotate your torso towards the right taking care not to round your lower back.
– Relax the legs and take care not to over twist so that the pose becomes rigid; use just enough effort through the upper body to maintain an open chest.
– Repeat the pose, twisting to the left.
– From sitting, separate your legs to a comfortable distance apart. Relax the muscles of your legs and allow your feet to be passive.
– If you are feeling resistance here, stay upright with your spine, perhaps placing your hands a little behind you to help keep the chest open.
– If you need more intensity, begin to walk your hands forwards making sure that you begin the forward movement of the torso by tipping your pelvis forwards – as shown in the first photo (you do not want your lower back rounded).
Once you meet your edge, it’s ok to allow the upper back to round a little. If you have space in your body you may be able to place your forearms on the floor or use something to rest them on (2nd photo)
– When coming out of the pose, bring your torso upright and use your hands under your knees to bring your legs back to the midline one at a time.
– From all fours or downward dog, bend your right knee and place it by your right wrist .Lower your pelvis towards the floor and allow your left leg to lengthen back behind you. Your right heel will rest under the front of your left hip (top photo).
– If your hips are a long way from the floor, you can place some support underneath your right buttock. If you are more open in your hips, you may be able to work your right foot and shin forwards so that there is less of a bend in your knee.
– If swan pose is not possible e.g. if you have negative feedback from your knees, then lie on your back and take Figure Four pose (third photo).
– When you come out of the pose, try taking downward dog or lying on your back with knees bent, feet wider than the hips and knees together as a counterpose.
Rest in savasana after your practice.
You can join me for Yin Yoga on Thursdays at the Brighton Natural Health Centre. See the classes page for details.