A detoxifying pose for Spring, boosting Liver Chi.
Yin Yoga very much follows the seasons and the Traditional Chinese Medicine interpretation of them. As we move into Spring, working with the Liver meridian becomes important. Just as we spring clean our houses, so it’s important to look after our main detoxification organ and boost blood flow in anticipation of increased energy.
Folded Butterfly is a wonderful way to boost the Liver Meridian (and the Kidney Meridian for added zest). Plus it stretches and activates the back of the body, soothing out any anger, anxiety or irritability associated with imbalaaced Liver chi.
Before you start, sit in a cross-legged position, bring your arms straight out in front of you, palms facing the floor, and curl your hands into fists around the thumbs. Keep you elbows straight and start to move the hands and arms in small outward circles (left goes anti-clockwise, right clockwise). You want to feel this movement in the area just under the breasts. Continue for 2 minutes.
Bring the soles of your feet together – have them at a comfortable distance for you from the body (there will be more stretch the closer you have the feet to the body). Gently press the knees towards the floor until you feel a stretch in your inner thighs. This might be as far as you come with this pose and that’s ok – stay here and breathe light, deep and slow for up to 5 minutes.
To fold, begin by bending the elbows a little and folding from the hips, keeping a straight back. Bend forward a little and hold. See how that feels. Already you should feel an increased stretch through the inner thighs, stimulating the liver meridian and allowing the energy to flow more freely. If you feel comfortable coming further forward (and if you know you don’t have issues with your lower back), fold further, letting the spine round to stimulate the meridian lines in the back of the body. Allow the neck to relax and release the head down (you can use props to support you head if you like). Breathe into the areas where you feel the stretch most keenly. Create space and let yourself become very peaceful and soft. Continue for up to 5 minutes.
Come out of the pose very slowly, drawing the belly back towards the spine and letting the spine re-stack, head comes up last. Grab a hold of your knees and bring them up, placing your feet on the floor. Rest for a few minutes in whichever pose feels comfortable for you, enjoying the rebound from the exercise.
If you find it difficult to take the knees out to the side in a seated pose, try wide-knee child pose – the aim of the pose is to get stretch into the inner legs. You could also work with one leg at a time – have one leg straight out to the side, then bring the other leg so the foot sits along the inside of the thigh. Push the bent leg’s knee to the floor – you can stay upright or fold forward.
Reclined butterfly pose is an easy way to get the benefits when you don’t have much energy. On your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat. Let the soles of the feet come together and open the knees to the floor. If you like, take the arms overhead for an additional liver meridian stretch.