When I started out with yoga I only did active classes such as Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga. As I deepened my understanding of my own practice, meditation and calmer forms of yoga such as Yin yoga became an important part of my spiritual journey. I’m a person that has a lot of Yang within me (heat/fire), so for me, a Yin yoga practice which is more introvert and cooling is necessary in order to find balance physically, mentally and emotionally. Many of us live in a Yang society where we are daily stimulated to take action and to be effective. For that reason, I believe that a Yin practice is really needed as a contrast to the world we live in.
Through different parts of our bodies we have specific meridians that are connected to our inner organs, and in our Yin yoga practice we are looking to create a healthy energetic flow (Qi) to release stagnant energy. The liver/gallbladder are closely connected to one and another since the liver serves as the Yin organ (transform, produce, regulate and store substances such as Qi-energy) and the gallbladder as the Yang organ (mainly responsible for digestion and transmitting nutrients to the rest of the body).
The gallbladder stores and secretes bile, it governs decision making and planning and it controls the sinew and affects our dreams. When we have a hard time following through, visualising new ideas and brainstorming, it is many times because of imbalance in the gallbladder. When in balance, we have more drive, we are capable of decision making and we feel inspired and passionate.
So what causes imbalance in our liver/gallbladder in the first place? There are three things that have a great impact according to Chinese Medicine: your diet, your sleep and your emotions. Not a brainer. Although, each organ is associated with an emotion. The liver/gallbladder is connected to the emotion anger. According to Chinese Medicine imbalance can arise from repressing anger, and/or if we are going through a stressful time in our life which causes us to eat poorly (greasy, spicy and processed foods), and irregular sleep.
Below I’ve put together a sequence for you to target both liver/gallbladder meridians. Try to stay in each pose for 3-5 min. If it’s overwhelming, come out of the pose for a few seconds and then return back into it. Try to breathe deeply into the lower parts of the lungs throughout the whole practice. Connect to the movement of your own breathing and let the breath assist you in letting go and to further surrender into the pose. Yin yoga is a mentally challenging practice since we need to learn how to sit with our own uncomfortability. Emotions might rise up to the surface since we can get an energetic release in the body. If it happens, let the emotion pass through, and know that whatever is coming up during the practice is a positive response of the body letting go of stagnant energy.
I’m using a folded blanket and a block as props to support me in the practice. I recommend to sit on the edge of the blanket in the forward folds in order to tilt the pelvis which helps to lengthen the lower back. It is also nice to tuck under the hip in Sleeping Swan, if you want to have something higher such as a block or a firm pillow, by all means do so. You can also have a block/pillow to lower your forearms on top of in the forward folds. Make sure you’re not experiencing any pinching pain when practicing. That’s an indicator that you want to come out of the pose and to modify further.
Let me know if you have any questions whatsoever. And enjoy a more happy and balanced liver/gallbladder!
Butterfly Pose (3-5 min)
Shoelace Pose (2-3 min each side)
Wide Knee Childs Pose (3-5 min)
Sphinx Pose (3-5 min)
Sleeping Swan/Pigeon Pose (3-5 min each side)
Dragonfly Pose (3-5 min)
Savasana (5-10 min)