Yoga as Acupressure Therapy

Last year, I came in contact with a Personal Trainer who wanted to collaborate to offer Yoga at her gym.

While getting to know her more, we uncovered her question, “What  really is Yoga, anyway?”

It’s a valid question!

Yoga has become very woo, with intention-setting and the new-age spiritualism movement.

Yoga, historically has been a science for healing— even Doctors are prescribing yoga these days.

In fact, acupuncture also has a history in the sister science of Yoga, Ayurveda.

There are 5 major physical motions that Yoga offers to manipulate the energy channels targeted in acupuncture and acupressure therapy.

Here’s the scoop on Yoga as Acupressure Therapy:

1. Side- Bending

Side-bending is really a two-fold movement; bending to each side. When one side is extended, the other side is massaged and compressed. The side-bending action extends the liver and the gallbladder channels. The liver and the gallbladder are Pitta Dosha organs. Side-bending cools down the body to balance the Pitta Dosha. If you have run hot, have acidity, heartburn, acid reflux, early grays, or redness of the skin, side bending is a great movement to cool you down!

2. Forward-folding

Forward-folding extends the channels of the back-body, while compressing the channels of the front body. The channels that are extended in forward-folding are the central channel (spine), bladder, small intestine, and large intestine channels. The small and large intestine are the home of Vata Dosha. The forward-folding action is a warming movement that puts a physical pressure on the digestive system, massaging the small and large intestine. If you have bladder or digestive issues, tend to overwork, feel anxious, have dryness of the skin, hair or bones, forward-folding is a great movement to warm and ground you you!

3. Wide-legged forward-folding

Wide-legged forward-folding extends the kidney, and liver channels. The kidney and liver are also Pitta Dosha organs. Wide-legged forward folding is a cooling action that compresses deep inside the pelvis and groin area, where the kidney and liver meridians meet.

4. Backward-bending

Backward-bending extends the channels of the front-body, while compressing the channels of the back-body. The channels extended are while backward-bending are the central channel of the front side of the body (spine), the stomach, kidney, spleen, pericardium (the sack around your heart), heart, and lung channels. The lungs are the home of the Kapha Dosha. Backward bending can be done in a passive way, like fish pose, which cools down the body, balancing Pitta Dosha. It can also be done in an active way, like wheel pose, which is a heating movement that balances Kapha Dosha. If you have congestion, are feeling sluggish, tired, depressed, or overweight, active back-bending is great movement to energize you!

5. Twisting

Twisting is also a two-fold movement; twisting to each side. Twisting spirals through all the channels of the body, making this movement Tri-Doshic. Twisting extends the spine, and the bundle of nerves that runs down the spine (the central nervous system). People say twisting is “detoxifying.” If you imagine your body like a sponge, soaking up everything you consume, then when you twist, it’s like your are manipulating the sponge to release everything that it has picked up on the way. Also, twisting really deeply massages the digestive system, which has many tiny crevices, and often encourages a detoxification of the intestines.

All the movements are holistic, meaning each movement involves the whole body, so all of the meridian channels are involved. Each gland of the endocrine system is also associated with an organ, so the glands are massaged along with the organ.

Who knew Yoga could really do all that!

Next time you do Yoga, you can incorporate all five of these movements into your practice!

Alejandra Quinonez