There is a good reason that the yoga and acupuncture world have collided, creating a harmonious pairing of practice. The two disciplines have much in common when it comes to intentions and outcome. Many in the yoga and acupuncture world share a common sense of curiosity regarding the interconnection of physical, emotional and spiritual healing.
The asana limb of yoga helps draw energy away from the mind and into the body. This is similar to receiving acupuncture, directing energy to the physical body, becoming attuned to the messages provided by your body. These messages both from a yoga asana practice and acupuncture can provide us tools as to what is going on in our body and empower us to heal ourselves. A primary intention of both yoga and acupuncture is to make the practitioner aware that they are active participants in their health and wellness. Asana, meaning “staying” or “abiding” in Sanskrit, is used as a tool to calm the mind, moving into an inner sense of being and making the connection between the physical and spiritual body. Acupuncture provides the practitioner with a similar circumstance by fostering an environment where the practitioner can stay in the same asana (typically savasana) through the treatment, bringing awareness into the physical body and different sensations provided by the needles.
One of the primary Niyama’s (an attitude adopted towards ourselves as we pursue the path of yoga and create a personal code of soulful living) is Tapas. Tapas is thought of as the disciplined use of our energy. Literally, the definition of Tapas is to heat the body and by doing so, cleanse it. If we can build our practice of tapas we have the ability to direct our energy creatively and powerfully to engage life and create that union with the spiritual by cleansing the physical. Forms of tapas include body posture, diet, and attention to breath. All of these tapas are also encompassed in the philosophy of acupuncture with the ultimate goal to make the inner connection between mind, body and spirit.
More practically speaking, yoga stretches acupuncture meridians throughout the body, which in turn helps regulate the flow that acupuncture strives to restore and maintain.
What acupuncturists consider Qi, yoga practitioners refer to as prana. Both terms refer to our life force and if boiled down even further we can really consider this breath. One of the main goals of both disciplines is to create free flow of energy, which we can call prana or qi. In the discipline of yoga we see the reference to nadis or the pathways in the body at the energetic level which gather at centers known as chakras. The same principal follows in acupuncture with meridians and acupuncture points. In the case of a specific ailment, yoga would focus on the
blocked chakra and nadis leading to that chakra. In acupuncture the goal is to needle specific points along the meridians where energy gathers or intersects to remove blockage and promote smooth flow of qi. In both disciplines the underlying belief is that where there is free flow of qi or prana, health will prevail; where there is blockage or stagnation, illness will arise.
In acupuncture and yoga, state of mind, life experiences, and energy centers are just as important as the physical manifestations of the condition. In the example of stress or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), acupuncture points on the ears may be stimulated to engage the sympathetic nervous system in an attempt to manage the fight or flight response. This could be associated with the sixth chakra or the third eye chakra. An acupuncturist will utilize acupuncture points to enhance immunity, balance hormones, and regulate emotions and energy levels, all of which can play a role in triggering an over-firing or under-firing sympathetic nervous system. Much like acupuncture uses the points to address these blockages, yoga uses asanas and other practices with a likeminded goal to stimulate free flow and remove blockages to these energy centers.
By incorporating acupuncture into your yoga practice or yoga into your acupuncture sessions, you can deepen your ability to remove existing blockages, enhance physical, mental and emotional balance and further your internal healing ability ultimately accelerating the healing process. Acupuncture and yoga are tools to help you cultivate a deep sense of wellbeing on all levels, physical, mental and spiritual. By enhancing your awareness on these levels, you can boost energy, enhance recovery, increase immunity and even improve digestive and respiratory function.
Stay Tuned...next blog will look at the power your of down dog from an acupuncture perspective. In the meantime sign up for the next AcuYin class. Click here to sign up now.