What’s the point? Enhancing the benefits of your yoga practice through acupuncture.

Posted Dec 7th, 2013 by Kayla Fell

There are striking similarities between the yogi’s and the acupuncturist’s take on energy.. Call it by a different name (while you might hear your yoga teacher refer to energy as life force or prana, your acupuncturist will refer to it as Qi), the intention is the same: to create a free unhindered flow of energy.

The ancient yogis were among the first to believe that the body contains thousands of channels (called nadis) through which prana can flow, passing through and intersecting at major energy centers called chakras. Acting as a kind of energetic irrigation system, yoga (breath, postures, meditation) invigorates the flow of prana along these nadis to refind balance, vitality, wholeness. The acupuncturist works with a complementary network of energy pathways known as meridians, with various substations or energy hubs along the way that can be pinpointed to transmit healing – these are the acupuncture points. Imagine the body with it’s very own giant, intricate subway map, with the tracks as the nadis or meridians, and the subway stations where lines change direction, intersect, and overlap, as energy changing stations or source points to the larger network. Some lines are crowded, some are sluggish, some get congested and blocked. Viewed this way, the practice of yoga and acupuncture have the same goal: to get the trains running on time or rather to release prana or Qi that has become stuck and in so doing, rejuvenate organ function and balance the nervous system to cultivate a fully integrated, conscious, vital whole.

December’s Community Acupuncture session will focus on two points that are often used together in a combination called Four Gates to promote circulation and relaxation. Often, a symptom experienced in one part of the body will be alleviated by stimulating an acupuncture point in a completely different place on the body. Consequently, the most powerful points tend to be at the ends of the meridians: at the toes, ankles, and knees; or fingers, wrists and elbows. The most illuminating of these is Liver 3, known as Taichong or Great Rushing. It is located on the foot, between the first and second toes and is considered the most important point for stagnation of the inner body. Renowned for relieving menstrual cramps, headaches, vision problems, shortness of breath, low back pain, insomnia and more, Liver 3 is the go-to point for getting things moving when feeling stuck. Emotionally, we might experience this sense of feeling stuck or congested in the chest or abdominal region.

The second point is Large Intestine 4 known as Hegu or Joining Valley and is located on the hand between the thumb and index finger. If the rollercoaster temperatures of the past week have left you with chills, fever, runny nose, sore throat or dizziness, stiff upper back and neck, remember this point… It is one of the best for bolstering the body’s defence against seasonal colds, allergies and general dis-ease. It is also associated with paralysis of the face, tooth ache, and is known as the pain point in the body: anywhere there is pain, use LI4 (which would explain if you are familiar with acupuncture, you have likely met it on previous sessions).

These four super points (both hands and both feet) pack an awesome punch as we head into the busy holiday season. Stagnation manifests itself in multiple ways physically and emotionally – irregular menstrual cycle, constipation, frustration and hotheadedness. By incorporating acupuncture alongside your yoga practice you deepen the body’s ability to heal itself: enhancing your awareness, boosting your energy and helping the muscles recover faster after a class. Perhaps you might find yourself able to glide up into an inversion or balance pose with greater ease. Or enjoy deep uninterrupted sleep after a period of tension and restlessness. Above all else, feel a connection with improved wellbeing physically, emotionally, and energetically and greet 2014 with positivity, joy and a sense of unhindered possibility. As we lean in to the subtle body beneath the surface, we lean into our fullest experience of life. Won’t you join us?

Community Acupuncture at Nava Yoga Center courtesy of Flat Rock Health takes place every second Wednesday of the month at 7:15pm. Session $25 (class cards do not apply).

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