I have been so blessed and grateful for the opportunity to be the lead instructor for a 200 hours yoga teacher training and to create Choose2be yoga school. It has been amazing to spend 8 weekends with these 7 beautiful women, like Chitose, and also incredible to have 11 different instructors to come lead part of the training. I am hoping that this will be the first of many yoga teacher training sessions and I am already starting to plan and dream of the next one ! It has been a really rich and amazing journey in so many different ways.
Part of the participants homework was to write an essay on the topic of their choice and they were aware that I would be posting it on my website. We also did an exercise in the first weekend to create a life affirmation and core desire feeling , I also invited them to share it with us. I am so humbled and touched that I got to support these amazing beings on part of their journey and I am looking forward to witness how life unfolds for them.
Life Affirmation: I am the beach whose gentle waves make people calm and relaxed
Core Desire Feelings: True Alive Welcoming
YOGA’S FAR EASTERN CONNECTION
Eastern medicine is a philosophy and practice that began in ancient China more than 2000 years ago. The purpose of Eastern medicine is to cure ailments by strengthening the body’s natural capacity to heal itself. In contrast to this methodology, there are also faucets of Western medicine that aim to achieve the same objectives. However, one of the most significant differences between Eastern medicine and Western medicine is Western medicine focuses on the maladies of the body, which are analyzed through the scientific method. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, was a disease that claimed over 700 lives but was eliminated in 2003 by containment methods. Smallpox is another disease that was eliminated through vaccination. Though these diseases are different from each other, they help illustrate Western medicine’s method of combating what is wrong with the body. On the other hand, Eastern medicine seeks to propel the body to a more balanced level of health that will fight off illness on its own power. By focusing on the body, Eastern medicine plays a better role in fighting diseases that Western medicine might not able to analyze, identify, or combat. By raising overall health, it’s also possible to fight off several ailments at once. Eastern medicine has proven to be an effective tool in fighting ailments such as arthritis, hypertension, and hormonal imbalances.
A foundation of Eastern medicinal philosophy is the conviction that all things in the universe are connected. Changes to our environment will have an effect on our body’s level of health. These connections are comprised of both external forces as well as internal forces in the body and mind. For example, weather and climactic patterns like humidity can have an effect on a person’s level of health. Inner forces such as one’s state of emotion also play a role in determining level of health. The connection between these forces in a multitude of imbalances is what creates chaos in the body that require adjustment. As we will see later, yin and yang forces play a central role to Eastern medicine.
To expand on emotional states, Eastern philosophy dictates that levels of happiness, anger, sadness, worry, and fear all play significant roles in regulating body and mind. Control over our emotional state is necessary in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Though this might seem apparent for most observers, Eastern medicine links particular emotional states to parts of the body. Happiness is related to our heart, anger to our liver, sadness to lungs, worry to spleen, and fear to kidneys. If one of these emotions becomes unstable or excessive, it will have a reverberating effect on its linked body part. For example, one might believe there could be no such thing as being too happy. However, Eastern medicine cautions that too little control over our happiness can be a contributing cause of muscle spasms brought on by heart strain.
There are three fundamental factors that are intertwined with each other. These factors are called ketsu, sui, and ki. Ketsu means blood, it’s similar to Western medicine’s definition in that it passes nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. Sui means body fluids to which there are two, water and the mucous membrane that covers our internal organs. Ki, which is related to ketsu, brings energy to our body. A good balance of ketsu, sui, and ki means a healthy body but perhaps of the three, ki is the most important. Unlike the preceding two factors, ki is something that cannot be seen but only observed. Ki is considered a cosmic force because everything in the universe is comprised of energy, from a leaf-eating caterpillar to the farthest quasar. Ki is in a state of constant flux, it is not static or immune to change. Changes in ki can be observed, perhaps most easily through nature like weather or natural disasters. Like nature, so too do our bodies experience change and shifts. The ki within our body is shaped in a way that allows us movement, organic function, and emotion.
Ki is often depicted as channels or lines that run throughout our body. These lines will have particular points where flow and level can be adjusted. There are also various nexus points where lines intersect with each other. The critical points in the body are called keiketsu and the channel “lines” that connect keiketsu points are called keiraku. As you might have guessed, keiketsu and keiraku are fundamental components in acupuncture therapy. Acupuncture is an ancient method of pain relief that has roots dating back to the stone age. In its early conception, rocks were used as pressure points to innervate the body and help relieve pain. From here, developments such as moxibustion took place later to aid in healing.
Networks of areas in the body developed over time and were named acupuncture meridians, or just meridians. Examples of some meridians are the Stomach Meridian, Bladder Meridian and Kidney Meridian. The size and structure for each meridian varies and the total number of meridians are quite numerous. However, there are 14 meridians that are considered the most important to the body’s overall health.
Yoga and meridians share a close relationship with meridians benefiting from yoga through exercise and stimulation. For example, the bladder meridian concerns those who suffer from back pain involving the sciatic nerve, eye sore, headaches, nosebleeds, and hemorrhoids. The bladder meridian encompasses a large area of the body, running from the inner corner of the eyes and ending in the baby toes of the feet. This pathway ascends up through the head and down the spine, it also passes along the hamstrings and calf muscles.
Yoga poses that help the bladder meridian are Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), Halasana (Plow Pose), Paschimothanasana (Sitting Froward Bend), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), and Ustrasana (Camel Pose). These poses will help those who suffer from the aforementioned pain. Practicing yoga poses and drawing in deep breaths stimulate keiraku and help the healing process. When practicing yoga, it’s important to take in deep breaths so we may open our energy pathway.
The study of medical science and health is ancient and intertwined. Disciplines such as yoga, acupuncture, and Eastern medicine have influenced one another throughout the ages and helped each other develop into powerful tools that enrich health and well-being. To fully understand one of these arts, one would need to spend time researching the associations that contributed to its current state. Ki and Prana have similar roots, or at the very least early influences as both originated from the same region. Understanding the parallels between concepts such as this help elevate us to a higher level of yoga.
Onokoro, S. (2011). Byōki wa Sainō: Byōki no Enerugī o Purasu ni Kaeru Ishiki Kakumei. Tōkyō: Kanki Shuppan.
Moriguchi, R. (n.d.). Zukai Toyo Igaku Jintai no Keiketsu Tsubo to Keiraku. Natsumesha. 7 YOGA’S FAR EASTERN CONNECTION
Make sure you check everyone YTT essay:
- Stress in our life and how Yoga can support us, by Georgina.
- The importance of daily practice for teachers, by Matthew.
- The healing power of sound, by Melissa.
- The third eye chakra, by Aria.
- Indigenize your practice, by Ivy.
- To mirror or not to mirror: evoking the mind/muscle connection in yoga by Hilary
- How I let yoga and spirituality into my life, by Jana.
- The ebb and flow of conscious breath in our daily life, especially with yoga practice, by Deborah.
- Savasana also called Corpse pose, by Deborah.
- Pause. Definition: a temporary stop, rest or hesitation, by Samantha.
- The imprint of this life and past life is finally free from pain, by Yi-Shan.
- Getting Grounded, by Robin.
- Take a Break…meditate, by Danica.
- A spiritual journey through Western and Easter Medicine, by Kendra.
- Yoga far Eastern connection, by Chitose.
- Grief to empowerment: a personal yogic journey, by Cate.
- Mind over matter for the modern yoga, by Genevieve.
- Doing a Yoga Teacher Training at 19 years old, by Courtney.