Yin is in… …but what is Chi?
By Nicole Schulz E-RYT 200 & RYT-500
“Chi” is equivalent to Prana, Spirit or Life Force. What it means is the energy we need to move, to keep up the basic bodily functions or defense systems. In Yin Yoga we repetitively talk about the Chi because it has an immediate connection to the meridians, the energy passages that nourish the vital organs, and the flow of the Chi through the body. But it is more than that. Influenced by Chinese Taoism, the word “Chi” is a broader concept. Is it the subtle force that moves the universe, found everywhere, in all inanimate and animate things. Everything contains Chi, for example our food, our breath, our body. Without Chi there wouldn’t be any life!
Processed foods contains less chi than natural, unprocessed foods. A potato fresh from the field is full of Chi whereas potato chips which have been processed in a factory have nothing left of this beautiful energy.
Chi that flows through the human body has various sources. Some Daoists have discovered 32 different kinds of Chi!
One way to acquire Chi is to give it to the baby when it is born (Yuan Chi or Original Chi), the Chi from both parents flow together and is being forwarded to the unborn in the womb. Another way is to receive Chi from our food (Gu Chi or Grain Chi), a healthy diet. The fresher, more natural and nutrient our food is, the more Chi we provide for ourselves. Or we breathe in the Chi (Kong Chi). If the air that is surrounding you is clean and we breathe in deeply into our lungs with each breath we take, more Chi is entering the body. When we sleep we produce Chi energy with our deep breaths. This, besides many other reasons, is why a regular sleep is so important for one’s regeneration.
Chi is also being produced by modest movements, meditation and relaxation exercises. Yin Yoga plays an important role in this scenario. In the long held postures we create an accumulation of Chi, hindering its flow. The accumulated amount of Chi then moves into the connective tissue networks until we release the position. What happens is similar to a dike in nature: all the Chi rushes through the meridian, improving the supply of Chi in the vital organs (Ying Chi or Nourishing Chi) and removing blockages.
It is very clear how important Chi is to our life and our health. Smoking, increased consumption of alcohol and stress, repetitive injuries and excessive, extreme work outs reduce the amount of Chi significantly. Bernie Clark, author of ‘The complete guide to Yin Yoga” speaks of 4 key pathological conditions of Chi:
– Deficient Chi: manifests as shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue, paleness
– Sinking Chi: manifests as prolapse of the organs
– Stagnant Chi: manifests as various forms of pain
– Rebellious Chi: manifests as coughing, belching, vomiting or hiccupping
Benefits: Opens the hips, groin. Provides a gentle opening to the inner knees. Stimulates the ovaries.
Contraindications: A strap helps to avoid too much stress to the inner leg lines.
Stimulated Meridians and Organs: Liver, Kidney and Spleen.
Hold for at least 3 minutes, up to 8 minutes.
Releasing the pose: Inhale the legs back up together. Bend the legs into the chest and lower both knees down to the side. Take your time to release and feel the sensations of Chi!
Nicole Schulz, SOYA, E-RYT200 and RYT-500 specialized in Yin Yoga with 85 hours of training with Bernie Clark. “I teach for the love of teaching, from the heart.” You can also check out her personal webpage www.nicole-yoga.com .