People often think that yoga is about becoming flexible, so a general assumption would be that if you are flexible now, there is no need to do yoga. This is far from the truth. The practice of yoga is about uniting the body, mind and spirit. Yoga asana’s or postures do this by making a clear and healthy line along the energy lines of the body. It’s the exact premise as acupuncture, where needles are placed on an energy line to “stimulate” it, bringing increased blood flow, and draining and eliminating waste, lactic acid from the muscles and tissues. This is why I’m such a stickler for alignment in the poses. If you are not lined up correctly, you will not be “stimulating” that energy line.
Lets take a look at the bladder meridian, or line of energy. It extends over each eye, down around the head, through the neck and parallels the spine. From the sacrum and lower back it runs down the back of each leg, through the calf muscle before it ends at the outer edge of the baby toes. Every time you bend over and reach for your toes, you are stimulating the bladder meridian. Problems with bladder meridian include: Dehydration, incontinence, frequent and urgent urination, painful urination, dark or bloody urine, fever, thirst, suspicion, jealousy, aversion to cold, fear associated with cold environments, occipital headaches, stiff neck, radically-changing moods, over-enthusiasm, lack of confidence, listlessness, low libido, fear-based inflexibility of mind and emotions, negative attitude, diabetes, prolapsed uterus in women, swollen prostate in men, frequent urinary infections – especially in women who are angry with men, arthritis, obesity.
This bladder meridian is intimately tied to the autonomous nervous system, which is our “fight or flight”. It also has a direct effect on all the body’s basic vital functions. In our modern everyday life, many people suffer from an overly-activated sympathetic nervous system, which is simply being in a state of constant low lying stress. This manifests as tension or pain along the spine, in particularly the lower back. Over time it becomes a fixed pattern of fear which shows itself as high blood pressure, ADHD, bi-polar disorder, heart disease, panic attacks and low libido. These problems can be overcome with a simple forward fold, that we do in our sun salutations, and also during the yoga practice itself. (one forward fold does not make high blood pressure go away- the yoga takes time to work)
A forward fold induces total relaxation by switching the autonomous nervous system over to the restful, restorative parasympathetic mode. One of my favorite ways to fold forward is to face the wall, about 6 inches to a foot from the wall. Fold forward, leaning your upper back, head against the wall, and then resting the top of your head on a series of blocks. Feet are grounded. If you can’t get down comfortably, spread your legs a bit. Stay and breath for 20 to 30 breaths. Carefully rise, and feel the difference in your body. It’s just wonderful and a gentle “reset” for the day.
The good news is the more you do yoga, the better the body becomes at opening these energy lines, and good health is allowed to flow throughout the whole body. The bladder meridian is just one energy line, that goes through an organ, and extends in the body. Imagine how you would feel if you practiced yoga everyday?
Pretty darn amazing, yes you would!
See you on the mat, upside down yogi’s!