What is Zen Yoga, and how can it help you find balance?

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In traditional Chinese medicine the season of Spring is associated with the liver and gall bladder.

The liver is the biggest organ of the body and its job is a very important one; processing and eliminating the toxins in our bodies. When the liver is imbalanced we potentially feel anger, frustration, the inability to adapt to change (which is so important in Spring), we can struggle to think or plan, suffer from blurry vision and have tight joints. Being angry is one of the most stressful things we can do to our bodies, it increases our heart rate and blood pressure and stress hormones are released.

As The Buddha says “holding onto anger is like grasping hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned”.

Gall bladder imbalances include dry skin, brittle nails, constipation, bloating, bitterness, cynicism and being mentally fuzzy.

Zen Yoga can help to bring energetic imbalances back into balance

So what is Zen Yoga?

Is it not just another yoga ‘fad’? Well the answer is, no not at all. Zen yoga comes from the Zen Buddhist tradition and is based squarely in the East Asian conception of energy routes (Japanese “ myaku”). Zen yoga emphasises physical alignment, the flow of energy (or ‘Ki’) and ‘mindfulness of the body’. The body, mind, emotions and energy all interplay to create the experience that we call being human. You work on your alignment in different poses/asanas, practice meditation, and work on different energy channels. In Zen the energy channels/meridians are connected to the seasons, different organs and their associated emotions.

By doing asanas that correlate to these meridians we can begin to release them and in turn overcome these difficult emotions and ailments that are associated with imbalances and allow ourselves the opportunity to gently heal and let go.

Asanas for Spring

Some asanas that work on the liver and gallbladder meridians are:

Forward bend, gate, crescent lunge, eagle, tree, lizard, pigeon, cobra, bow, head to knee pose and supine twists. Doing these poses frequently will help to balance out those meridian channels and therefore balance your liver and gallbladder.

The associated chakra for the liver and the gall bladder is the ‘Manipura’ (solar plexus/third chakra). This chakra is known as the life force and when this energy port is imbalanced it can cause stress, low self-esteem, anger, frustration, fear and guilt. We can use asanas and guided meditation to balance this chakra to feel at peace, fearless and energetic.

Asanas for the Manipura chakra:

Boat pose, warrior 1, warrior 2, warrior 3, reverse warrior and all the twists!

Zen yoga is about the subtleties of the body- realigning and refocusing. Working with the body to get good alignment, learning what the body needs and what feels good or doesn't and working out why.

Zen yoga is a powerful tool for self-transformation- we bring attention to our breath and our bodies, which helps us to still the fluctuations of the mind, and be more present in the unfolding of each moment. By doing this we are able to become in tune with our bodies and allow them to open, release and heal.

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Jodie is passionate about alternative health after it changing her life when she was young. This continued into a yoga practice which led her to give up her career as a Primary School Teacher to teach yoga and mindfulness to children. She then certified in Zen Yoga, to share her passion further. She works with the body’s energy channels assisting students to release physical and emotional blockages. She also uses her artwork as a form of personal meditation and tries to lead a spiritual life. Her ethos is that Yoga and other alternative therapies are about being in tune with your body, healing, letting go and above all, being happy. You can find out more about her over on her website or on instagram or facebook