Nourish Yourself This Autumn with Yin Yoga
Just as the leaves are falling from the trees now is the time for us to be considering what there is to let go. What has served us this year and what is no longer. In Chinese Medicine (TCM) Autumn is the season to nourish our Lung Chi. The lungs include the organ of the skin and are paired with the large intestine, (the colon), this energy is all about taking in what we need and letting go of what we don’t. The Lung Chi is responsible for a healthy immune system, which is often something considered this time of year as viruses start to circulate.
The summer is the peak energy, Yang, of the year. It’s an outward energy and during this time we are likely to be our most sociable and busy with projects we are working on, in TCM it’s the energy of the Heart. As we move into the Lung Chi the energy becomes more inward, we can see this in nature with the darker days, to prepare for the deep still energy of Winter. Now is the time for slowing down, for lighting candles and embracing time for more connection with yourself.
Emotionally the Lung Chi is about being able to deal with change, grief, and being able to go with the flow of what life brings. Letting go of the need to fix ourselves, or others, the need for control, perfection, a certain outcome and to be able to find the beauty in each moment. Cultivating awe, those moments of stopping to notice something that touches us, helps to nourish the Lung Chi.
Yin Yoga helps to stimulate the energy, or Chi, through the energy channels of the body by long held poses that put gentle pressure on them, for example with compression or a gentle pull. Rather than going to an acupuncturist to have needles put in the points, you are able to give yourself acupressure in the poses. Just as an acupuncturist will leave the needles in for a while to stimulate Chi to certain areas, in Yin you stay for a while in the poses.
The Lung Meridian runs from the front of the chest, just by the start of the shoulder near the collar bone down the inside of the arm to the thumb. The Large Intestine Meridian runs from the second finger up the outside of the arm across the shoulder and up the neck. Poses that help to stimulate the shoulders, chest and arms will help to stimulate this energy. For example:
Melting Heart Pose
Known in yang practices as Anahastasana. On all fours bring one arm forwards and then other arm bent, the head can either rest on the forearm or on the inside on the floor. As arms lengthen away the chest softens to the floor.
Chest Opening Pose
Lay back over a bolster (or rolled up mat with blanket over the top), starting from point of your back behind your navel. Make sure neck feels comfortable, you might want to put a cushion or block under your head. Open your arms wide, palms facing up.
Heart Opening Pose
Have 3 blocks stacked up that you put your feet on and a bolster vertical along the mat that you lie back on, you position yourself with just your shoulders grazing the floor, head on the floor. You can place a belt around your ankles or thighs to hold them together, to aid relaxing the legs in the pose. If you don’t have blocks or it feels too much for your lower back you can have knees bent and feet on the floor
Wide Knee Childs Pose with Twist
Sit back on heels, knees wide apart. Lean forward half way and thread your right arm under your left arm, palm facing up. Stretch the left arm away from you or warp it behind your back for a deeper twist. You may want to support your head with a block.
which can be done whilst holding a pose like Shoelace, Square or Hero. Wrap one arm under the other and draw the forearms together hands meeting or touching the thumb/wrist. Drawn the elbows forward and up to deepen the sensation between the shoulder blades.
Breathing with your diaphragm is a marvellous way to help stimulate your Lung Chi and will have a calming effect throughout the whole body and mind. Breath slowly in through the nose, all the way down to your lower ribs. Imagining your diaphragm, which spans across your lower ribs, opens out like an umbrella on your inhale and draws up and inwards to exhale.
Getting out in the fresh air, swimming, proper rest and having a good old clean out at home are also ways to support yourself this time of year. When we are able to embrace the change of seasons and find benefit in each one it not only prepares us for the next but also creates space to enjoy the natural flow of life.
Louise runs Yin Teacher Trainings in Brighton and Goa. She is passionate about helping people slow down, connect with themselves and be guided by their own wisdom.To find out more please click here: Yin Yoga Training