Yin Yoga + Acupressure for Digestion

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Lydia Sullivan

It’s the most wonderful time of year…

That is, unless you struggle with digestive issues or have a chronic health condition in which case you could spend most of boxing day on the toilet or in bed. The stress of the season coupled with rich food and a few too many ‘medicinal red wines’ may mean you struggle through the next few weeks with bloating, discomfort and a feeling of heaviness in your mind and body. In this short blog I want to gift you some simple tools to support your digestion and ensure you (and your stool💩) end the year feeling good.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) disharmony in our digestion suggests an imbalance of our stomach and spleen. These are the organs connected to our digestive system and have the function of transforming and transporting food and liquids consumed into blood and qi that can then nourish the rest of the organs in the body.

This imbalance may show up as:

  1. Bloating and distention of the abdomen
  2. Excess worry and overthinking
  3. Changes to your stool; diarrhoea or constipation
  4. Heaviness of your limbs
  5. Nausea, acid reflux, excess burping
  6. Swollen limbs, legs, arms, tongue

If any of these symptoms sound familiar (which is very common in Western society) then you may have disharmony of your stomach & spleen. Taking time each day to connect your  body through the yin shapes outlined and the acupressure points will help blood and qi flow more harmoniously throughout your body. Placing both hands on your belly to connect to your physical centre is also a very grounding exercise if you don’t have time for a more extensive yin and acupressure practice.

Yin Yoga Poses

Childs pose with soft fists (3-5 min)

Place your hands into soft fists and rest them on your lower abdomen, with your knees and feet together fold your body over your thighs. Your forehead can rest on the floor or can be propped up by a block. You should feel the gentle pressure of your fists in your lower abdomen acting as a light massage.

Hold the pose in stillness, setting a timer for 3-5 minutes. Allow your mind to be anchored by consciously slow down your breath, you can focus your mind with an equal breath practice, inhaling through your nose for the count of 4 and exhaling out your nose for 4 (you can breath out of your mouth if this feels very unsettling or claustrophobic for you.

*Between your shapes take a savasana as a rebound to allow the body to reeve the full effects of the shape.

Supported Bridge (5 min)

Begin by placing both feet on the floor with feet hip distance apart, you should be able to graze your heels with your finger tips. Place your block underneath your sacrum, the flat part of your lower spine, you can choose the height of the block, I like to start on the lowest height and build up as the tissues of my body soften and release. If you don’t have a block you can use pillows to lift your hips higher than your heart and open the area of your lower belly.

Options to incorporate into your bridge pose:

  1. Massaging your belly in a circular clockwise motion
  2. Both knees bent with your feet on the floor, or one leg straight and one bent, or both legs straight (check in with how your lower back feels here and self-adjust as you need)

Hold the pose for 5 minutes, if you are exploring the variations, spend half the time with one leg straight and then switch legs, or you can spend the first two minutes in the shape and the remainder of the time gentle massaging your belly.

Acu-pressure

Acupressure is a noninvasive form of Chinese medicine for those that don’t like needles or want to support the flow of blood and qi around the body without a practitioner. During acupressure we apply pressure to the skin to stimulate qi in the meridian lines. Acupressure is  an amazing tool in your toolbox as it’s affordable, safe and a simple and effective way to take care of yourself.

“During acupressure we apply pressure to the skin to stimulate qi in the meridian lines.”

How to find the points:

To find the points I use the Cun measurement to explain point location, Cun is the measurement used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is unique to each individual, one cun is related to your thumb width, 3 CUN is 4 finger widths, and this ensures that you can find the point on your body relative to your specific anatomical dimensions.

Stomach 36 – Leg Three Miles – Zusanli

This is a household name in acupuncture clinics. ST36 boosts your immune system and recharges your energy, harmonises the stomach and calms the spirit – my favourite point!

Locating the point: St 36 is 4 fingers (3 Cun) below your knee cap, 1 finger from the tibia, palpate to find the tender spot.

Apply gentle pressure or massage in a circular motion for 2-3 minutes.

Spleen 6 – Three Yin Intersection- Sanyinjiao

This is the meeting point of the 3 yin meridian lines of the leg and is great to tonify the stomach and spleen. Massaging this point for 2-3 minutes to support the organs of your lower abdomen, calms your nervous system, it can also induce labour so avoid this point if you are pregnant.

Locating the point: On the inside of your leg, 4 fingers (3 cun) above your medial malleolus (ankle bone), you will find the tender spot in a depression close to the tibia.

Massage for 2-3 minutes on each side.

St 24 – Slippery Flesh Gate – Huaroumen

Calms your spirit and harmonises your stomach and can alleviate symptoms of nausea and vomiting

Location: 2 Cun (3 fingers) from the belly button

Massage for 2-3 minutes on both sides of your abdomen

Ren 6 – Sea of Qi- Qihai

This point boosts the Qi of the body and harmonises blood, supporting the lower abdominal organs

Locating the point: On the midline of the lower abdomen, 2 fingers (1.5 cun )below the belly button.

Massage for 2-3 mins in gentle circular motions, this can be quite a sensitive point

After Yin and Acupressure

After practicing your yin and acupressure give yourself time to settle into a juicy Savasana, corpse pose. Take time to prepare yourself for rest and comfort by wrapping yourself in blankets, placing a bolster under your knees or adding cushions or a gentle weight on top of your body. Stay here for as long as time allows, I like to set a timer for 10 minutes (making sure the alarm sound is gentle and soft) or put on one or two songs which I love to act as my 10 minute timer.

To support your digestion further here are my favourite tips for a happy belly after a delicious meal.

Eat S.L.O.W.L.Y. Take your time with each bite and chew fully.

Switch cold drinks for warm water or herbal tea, our digestion is like a burning fire, if you consume cold drinks you are dampening or completely putting out this fire meaning food is undigested and nutrients cannot be absorbed. I love peppermint or cumin tea (don’t knock it till you try it)!

If your stomach and spleen organs are in disharmony it’s likely you crave more sugary sweet foods, notice your cravings and see if you can make small changes like switching milk chocolate to dark chocolate.

Be Present!! Often eating is not our main focus, we are listening to a podcast; watching Love Actually; working, if our body is not aware that we are eating how will it know to excrete the correct enzymes and digestive fluids, how will our nervous system know it’s the time to rest & digest. Smell your food, take the time to savour every bite and appreciate your food.


I would love to hear your favourite yin shape and acu-pressure point and if the tools have had a positive impact this Christmas. Send me a message or drop me an email.

Happy Christmas you lovely people,

Lydia xox

Connect with Lydia!

@Flowithlydia on Instagram

Check out her YouTube page here.

www.flowithlydia.com

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Titles for Website (38)
Lydia Sullivan
Lydia Sullivan
Lydia is a Yoga teacher and an acupuncturist-in-training who weaves Traditional Chinese Medicine into her soothing yin classes. Motivated by her own health struggles with an inflammatory autoimmune condition, Lydia shares tools on regulating your nervous system, supporting digestive issues and boosting your immune system. Lydia wants to empower her students and patients to take control of their own health journey and share tools which they can integrate into their daily life.

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