Acupuncture is… Briefly put, an acupuncture point taps into the nervous system and muscular tissues to instigate natural responses in the body. Needles are used to direct these responses into a healing pattern. These points usually lay on an acupuncture “meridian.” These meridians run up and down the body alongside the muscles and tendons and are connected to the organs that they are named after.
That said, when you are in yoga poses, you are often stretching the meridians out too. You can focus on certain poses to reap more of the health benefits of that meridian stretch! Here are some basics:
1. Downward Dog: This pose feels fantastic, because it stretches so many aspects of your body at once. A lot of acupuncture meridians are worked on using this pose. This includes the meridians on your arms and shoulders which provide you with heart and lung health specifically against allergies, cold and flu viruses, anxiety and insomnia!
Downward dog also expands the meridians in the legs to encourage healthy digestion, which in turn heightens detoxification levels. Ask your instructor about how to “flip your dog” to stretch out the digestive meridians on your abdomen even more!
2. Warrior II: This position is fantastic for lymph, an immune enhancing fluid. Warrior II puts emphasis on the hip and knee, two of our biggest joints. Lymph collects in our joints and has a hard time moving freely if we don't move about. Healthy lymph flow means a healthier body.
The hip and knee also have a close relationship with the gall bladder, spleen and stomach meridians, which all help with the digestion of fats and the distribution of fluids. Cart wheeling your arms in and out of this pose also helps to invigorate blood flow from your chest and shoulders into your fingertips. This awakens the heart and lung meridians to help maintain fluid distribution and enhance immune health, sleep problems, depression and stress.
3. Bridge/Wheel: These backbends can help all kinds of digestive issues thanks to the stretching of the ren, stomach and spleen meridians on the front of the body: acid reflux, hiccup disorders, heart burn, gas, diarrhea or constipation. Intense backbends are also great for pre (and post) menstrual tension, as they stretch out and open the front of the body. Just make sure your instructor is there to help you do it and that you are thoroughly warmed up!
4. Good Old Child's Pose: Great for stretching out the lungs and upper back, while draining out the sinuses. Elongating the large intestine and small intestine meridians along the arms is great for tendonitis, tennis elbow and carpal tunnel. Notice the pull across the shoulder blades while stretching out the back of the neck in this pose, and know that stretching any of those meridians is going to relieve tension from stress or cold and flu viruses.
Try acupuncture after a yoga class, and feel the difference it makes in your body!