Have you ever heard of yin yoga? Or fascia? And how does Traditional Chinese Medicine fit into all of this? If not, don’t worry—you’re not alone. We’ll break down the basics of each to better understand how they are related and how you can incorporate these practices into your life.
Yin yoga is a type of yoga practice that is slow-paced and gentle on the body. It is characterized by holding postures for a longer period (up to several minutes) to release tightness in the muscles, joints, and fascia (the connective tissue that wraps around muscles). In a yin practice, we hold poses for longer than other types of yoga, allowing deeper stretching throughout the body and encouraging relaxation. The focus is inward rather than outward; practitioners relax into postures with minimal effort. Yin yoga can still be physically challenging due to its long holds, but remember to focus on the duration of the pose rather than the intensity of the stretch. It’s a great way to reconnect with yourself on a deep level while getting much-needed rest after a long day.
Yin recommendation: Schedule a yin yoga class after particularly stressful days or as a regular part of your self-care routine.
Fascia is the connective tissue that wraps around muscles and organs throughout our bodies. It serves multiple functions, such as providing support, protection, lubrication, and insulation to our bodies. Fascia can become tight or “stuck” due to injury or lack of physical activity, which can cause pain or discomfort in certain areas. Regular stretching helps loosen up this tissue so that it can move more freely throughout our bodies; this is one way in which yin yoga can help!
Fascia recommendation: In addition to stretching out your fascia through physical activity like yin yoga, massage therapy can also help release tension in your connective tissues and promote healing. (Myofascial release therapy is a type of massage that specifically targets fascia.)
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a centuries-old alternative medical system with separate (from Western medicine) theories about health and disease prevention. According to TCM theory, each season corresponds with an organ pair in the body:
- Spring corresponds with the liver and gallbladder
- Summer corresponds with the heart and small intestine
- Late summer corresponds with the spleen and stomach
- Fall corresponds with lungs and large intestine
- Winter corresponds with the kidneys and urinary bladder
Strive to pay extra attention to these organs during their respective seasons. Each organ system has a meridian line associated with it; these lines correspond to myofascial lines found within the body’s fascia tissue, which is quite remarkable. (Ancient wisdom and modern science do sometimes overlap!) Yin yoga poses are chosen to target certain myofascial lines/meridians in the body.
TCM recommendation: Practice yin yoga specific to the season or one season in advance. Acupuncture and herbal remedies are two other TCM practices that nourish the body.
When practiced regularly, yin yoga has many physical and mental benefits. By combining yin yoga stretches with massage therapy or other forms of self-care like TCM practices, we can ensure that our bodies remain healthy, balanced, and functioning optimally all year round. Remember that consistency is key!