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What is wellness?

Wellness is traditionally viewed as freedom from diseases; thus if you are not sick, you are considered healthy. However, this perspective on wellness is evolving with time. No doubt that being absence from diseases is a integral part of wellness, its not all. According to the World Health Organisation, wellness is “…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

BE well|LIVE well

BE well|LIVE well (also known as Be.LIVE) is a site dedicated to more than just LIVING well, it hopes to bring our attention to an added dimension of WellnessBEING well.

Most people approach wellness through our actions, what I term as “doing” –  eating right, sleeping well, exercising regularly, controlling risk factors like smoking and alcohol consumption, etc. Of course, these responsible actions play a critical role in wellness. However, I am sure you heard how friends around you complain about the agony they have to endure in order to sustain THAT healthy lifestyle. And, very soon… KAPUT!… its back to the same old self again.

Wellness, in its sustainable form goes beyond mere actions. We turn inward and seek wellness from within. We channel our awareness inwards, be at ease with our physical and emotional self;  be connected with our intention and purpose; and simply be in bliss with our breath, body and soul. Being in a state of awareness of our current state of mind and body, we derive greater joy and sustainability to achieve the holistic wellness that we desire.

Chinese Medicine & Yin Yoga module 4

In this final module, Physician Goh shared about the Kidney and Urinary Bladder organs. She provided a broader perspective on how Chinese Medicine views the kidneys as the organ of vitality. Kidney is the power house that store vitality essence – “Jing” (精), and this explains why healthy kidneys govern vitality and our ageing process.

Healthy kidneys also give us stronger bone and teeth, better memory (肾主骨生髓), and healthier hair (其华在发) . You can also see the link with common kidney related diseases such as osteoporosis, infertility, libido, hair loss, diabetes, and alzheimer among others.

She also shared on the Chinese Medicine perspective of ageing, mainly through 1. exhaustion of fundamental substances (物质亏耗), 2. degeneration of organs (脏腑虚衰), and 3. accumulations of metabolic waste (代谢物囤积). One of the biggest take away from the session, I felt, was not to be overly obsessed with taking tonic (进补), in this case nourishing the kidneys 补肾. Although it is important to nourish the kidneys, we should also look at how we can effectively eliminate metabolic waste from our body (补和泻都一样重要).

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Dietary recommendation: Among the many herbs she recommends to address various diagnosis of our kidney, I thought it is interesting to share on “mai dong” (麦冬) as above. You can soak it in hot water and drink it like tea IF you have Kidney Yin deficiency (肾阴虚)。

seal with belt

Yin Yoga recommendation: Sphinx/Seal (as shown above) is great to nourish the kidney lines which run along the inner legs, through the tailbone and along the lumbar spine. I recommend this pose (~5-8 min) before bed, if you have difficulty slight insomnia problem. This pose calm your mind down, and nourishes the water element in the body. This could balance the excessive fire in the heart – in TCM we call this 水火既济.

Chinese Medicine & Yin Yoga module 3

Gut diseases has become so common that we have accepted it as part of us, rather than looking at it as an abnormality. It has become the new normal in the modern society. If you talk to people around you, there is a high chance that they are suffering from one of these: irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, bloatedness, GERD, over-eating, or in some weight control diet.

Last weekend, Physician Goh You Li shared on the importance of maintaining a healthy gut health and pathological reasons of imbalance Spleen-Stomach Qi flow. Spleen plays a key role in the middle segment of our body (中焦), which not only participate in the digestion process but it is also responsible in distributing the nutritive essence to all parts of our body. It produces blood in our body and ensure healthy uplifting Qi to prevent our organs from prolapsing (脾生血主升). It is also known as, source of life after birth (后天之本). Thus, ensuring our spleen functions well so that it can absorb the nutrients we required is as important as choosing the right type of food to eat.

She also shared about how dampness (湿)is the main cause of spleen-stomach related diseases. Dampness with heat (湿热)could lead to constipation while dampness with cold(寒湿) could lead to leaky gut. We have a healthy conversations about poop and how it can show signs of our gut health.

chinese barley

Dietary recommendation: Less cold, oily and heaty food. Not to avoid them totally buy to take them in moderation. Too much of them can store dampness in our spleen. Chinese Yam (山药) is a gem when it comes to spleen health, in addition it also nourishes the lung and kidney too. Chinese Barley is also a good source of food/herb to remove moisture in our body.

Full saddle

Yin Yoga recommendation: Saddle regulates Qi along the Spleen stomach channels. Sensations along the inner and top of the thigh stimulate the spleen and stomach lines. 5-10 min is recommended. *You may take shorter hold if you experience excessive compression in the knees. Dragon pose can be an alternative if your knees do not allow you to take saddle pose.

Takeaway: A quote shared by Physician Goh that I really like – “内伤脾胃,百病由生”. “Spleen stomach imbalance is the root of all diseases”, a quote by 李东垣•补土学派,金元四大家之一。

Chinese Medicine & Yin Yoga module 2

Liver/Gallbladder system and Emotion Health (肝胆与情志)

Physician Goh You Li shared on emotion health and why it is important to maintain a healthy Qi flow in the Liver and Gallbladder system on 9 Feb 2020.

A well regulated Liver and Gallbladder system supports and regulates emotions in our body. We experience emotions all the time when we are awake, consciously or subconsiously. Unpleasant situations occur, and most of the time we may get frustrated when things are beyond our control. However, we do have a choice: we can choose how we react to the situation, and regulate our emotions and feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we should just suck it up. More importantly, we should learn how to ventilate these emotions.

Liver-TCm-fucntion

Physician Goh shared on how western and eastern medicine perceive the function of the Liver. (I have attached a little chart source: https://acuproacademy.com/tcm-liver/ for your reference). She also shared tips on how we could use effective methods to ventilate our emotions so as to preserve good emotion health. Pent up emotion, leading to stress, anxiety, depression may lead to liver Qi stagnation or liver fire, which may in turn lead to anger management issues, suicidal tendency or tumors growth if conditions go out of control.

rosetea

Dietary recommendation: Rose tea has many uses in health and wellness. It is thought to ease menstrual pains, detoxify the body, stimulate mood and regulate the sleep cycle. Many of the symptoms are associated with Liver Qi deficiency.

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Yin Yoga recommendation: Variations of Shoelace regulate Qi along the Liver and gallbladder channels. Sensations along the outside of the hips may stimulate the galldbladder meridians, and the compression around the inner thighs and genital areas stimulate the liver and kidney lines. 3-5 min on each side is recommended.

Takeaway: A quote shared by Physician Goh that I really like – “恬淡虚无,真气从之,精神内守,病安从来”. “Tranquil and emptiness brings about true energy flow. A grounded mind keeps diseases away.”, a quote from 素问/上古天真论. A wise piece of teaching from the classic, and how beautifully relevant it is to the practice of Yin Yoga.

We will be looking at the spleen and stomach meridian lines and how this could support a healthy gut (脾胃与消化) on 16 Feb 2020. Drop us a note if you are keen to join us.

观自在菩萨

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内观不易|自在更难

这几天的浸濡,以一颗初学者的心态习惯独处、放慢步伐、学习安静。

内关需要耐心、锻炼、也需要毅力。
当我们执着与毅力,紧抓着不放时,我学习到痛苦,烦操,疲累。

放松姿态,放开结果,灌溉心中的怜悯与慈悲。有如清泉,滴水石穿,逐渐软化了顽强的毅力,并寻得一缕自在。

菩提本无树,明镜亦非台,本来无一物,何处惹尘埃。

 

 

在远处,心若安之。

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这几天都选了个靠落地门户的位子,放空时看看室外的佛像,绿叶,流水。随风摇曳,活在风中。老喜欢把自己安在角落里,这让我能在群体中找到安全感。

当然,所有的人生选择都是在考量种种好处后,悻然豁达的包容一切不如意的。这个位子,有微风但也有赤阳。午间投射进来的阳光,灼热刺眼。人生没有两全其美。你看到只是别人的好,背后的不堪与割舍更值得学习。

在远处,心若安之。

“我独处时最轻松,因为不觉得自己乏味,即使乏味,也自己承受,不累及他人,也无需感到不安。” ——周国平《人与永恒》

Sarah Powers Insight Yoga Teacher Training

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10 days of insight training and immersion has come to an end. We watched Sarah speaks with passion, grace and eloquence on Yin Yoga, mindfulness and how one could incorporate a yang sequence into a yin practice for greater balance.

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It’s amazing to watch how she paces the programme and leads us into the mindfulness aspect of buddhist philosophy in the course of ten days. I have come for this and definitely that’s the highlight of her training!

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Seeing how I evolve from a novice to one that takes the meditation seat with grace at the end of the course is truly humbling. The post meditation discussion and how we held space for one another is beautiful – there exist the Buddha nature in each and everyone of us.

I am thankful to Sarah for contributing more depth to my practice and teaching. Thank you for teaching us the beauty of being still. 😍
“Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realization that any wisdom exists, exists in what we already have. We can lead our life so as to become more awake to who we are and what we’re doing rather than trying to improve or change or get rid of who we are or what we’re doing.” — Pema Chodron

How are Yin Yoga and Chinese Medicine linked?

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How is Yin yoga related to Chinese Medicine? The practice of yoga is to allow the flow of Qi (prana) in our body. Qi is often defined as a life force extracted from the raw materials of ingested food and fluids and from the air you breathe. When Qi is balanced and well circulated, our organs get nourished and they function properly. Qi needs the meridian system in our body to circulate and flow – some form of communication network just like our wi-fi system at home.

When the flow of Qi is obstructed, just like what happens in a traffic jam or a congested MRT interchange during peak hour, the block in communication may affect parts of our body. This stagnation of Qi creates disharmony in our body. This may affect the functions of our internal organs and this may lead to diseases. Some of the techniques used in Chinese Medicine are needling (Acupuncture), Tuina,Moxibuxtion or Qigong to get the Qi moving again .

So what has this got to do with Yin yoga?

Of course we are not poking you with acupuncture needles in a Yin practice. It was found that when we hold poses in a relaxed manner for extended period of time (3-5min), a gentle pressure is constantly being applied to parts of our body. This is especially so in a Yin practice when we target the main joints in our body, where many of the Qi centres are located. What you get at the end of a yin practice, if properly sequenced, is pretty similar to the needling effect.

Links:

Emotion Health and Yin Yoga (Liver & Gall-bladder health)
Gut Health and Yin Yoga (Spleen & Stomach health)
Vitality and Yin Yoga (Kidney & Urinary Bladder health)

Check out this short vide by Josh Summer – an acupuncturist and a Yin yoga teacher.

https://www.yogajournal.com/…/yin-yoga-101-the-secret-to-ke…

Vitality with Yin Yoga

We will explore poses that stimulate the Qi flow along the Kidney and Urinary Bladder lines. Snail pose is one of the poses that stimulates the superficial back fascial line, which also corresponds to the Urinary Bladder lines.

The Kidney and Urinary Bladder belong to the water element (属水). Both regulate water metabolism, our sex organs and fertility. While issues of the Kidney can manifest anytime, this time of the year (Winter) is the season to take extra care of them. Winter is the time when all life forces rest and replenish their vital energy(冬藏). It is a gestational time of replenishing the wellspring of life so that when spring comes, the gathering energy will burst forth with new growth. Kidney store the essence of life, “jing” (肾藏精), which is essential to sustain life and prolong vitality.

Gut Health with Yin Yoga

The Spleen and Stomach are two primary organs that govern our gut health.

This week, we explored poses that stimulate the Qi flow along the spleen and stomach lines. The dragon is one of them. In Dragon pose, the stomach meridian, which travel through the front thighs and front torso, get stimulated and work with their paired organs to generate Qi through their role in digestion.

Beyond physical benefits, I love how dragon pose tame our monkey mind. Notice all the chattering in the mind when you stay in dragon beyond 3 min.

Barley to strengthen the Spleen

The Chinese Barley (薏苡仁 or 薏仁) is also known as Coixseeds. It has high nutritional value, and in Japan it is classified as an anti-cancer food.

They are considered cooling (味:甘凉) in nature, and are used as a dietary supplement to clear heat and resolve dampness (化湿) in our body, which can lead to many illnesses. The herb is thought to move through the lung, spleen and kidney meridians – channels through which Qi (vital energy) travels in the body. A good flow of Qi in the body is required for good health.

Dampness (湿) is usually the cause of many spleen-related diseases such as loose stool, weak gut, edema. It helps to strengthen the spleen (健脾止泻), remove moisture in our lower body (利水化湿), Coixseed can also enhance the function of the kidney, clean up the heat and promote urination (利尿). It improves the flow of water throughout the body, so it is a good supplement if you are experience water stagnation such as abdominal bloating and edema (excessive water weight, 下肢水肿).

There are two main types of barley in the market – Chinese barley (中国薏仁) on the right and Western barley (洋薏米) on the left. The Chinese barley are bigger and coarser. It takes longer time to cook to softness and has an earthy, herbal taste. The western barley are much smaller, about the size of the green bean. It has a smoother texture, and taste better – this is what you always get at foodcourt and kopitiam.

*WHO IT IS FOR: Hot, humid weather and a love for heaty food makes damp-heat (湿热) syndrome a common problem of Singaporeans. Both types of barley helps to strengthen the spleen and improve appetite. However, the Chinese barley is more effective if you want to expel body moisture and heatiness (清热祛湿). So make sure you choose the right type of barley for yourself.

*WHO SHOULD AVOID IT: Pregnant women should avoid using herbs with a diuretic effect, such as coix seeds. Those who are dehydrated – marked by a dry throat, bad constipation, excessive perspiration or urination – are said to have no dampness within their bodies, and should avoid this herb, which may aggravate their symptoms.

Credit: Adapted from https://www.asiaone.com/…/singapore-tcm-expert-how-use-coix…

Jensen will be conducting a series of Chinese Medicine based Yin yoga workshops in Feb 2020 with Physician Goh You Li. For more details on the workshops, please check out the link: https://forms.gle/fGJbBiLse4rfq3REA

 

Emotion Health with Yin Yoga

Liver and Gallbladder health are directly related to our emotion health, diseases such as depression, anxiety and stress are some of the common symptoms in today society.

Do you know that the Gall Bladder meridian is the longest meridian line in our body? This Meridian’s Qi is responsible, among other, for decision making and good judgments, as well as providing courage and initiative. There are a total of 44 acupoints on each side. Let us look take a closer look at one of the points – GB 20.

GB20 is the Fengchi point (风池). The Fengchi points (GB20) are located by feeling for the mastoid (ear) bone and following the groove back to where the neck muscles attach to the skull. You will experience a dull achy sensation when you are pressing on correctly. Massage on this point if you are suffering from headache, migraine, eye blurriness or fatigue, low energy, and cold/flu symptoms.

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“风池穴(GB20)在项后区,枕骨之下。主治内风病症如头痛、耳鸣 或外感如感冒、鼻塞、目赤肿痛。现在上班族都有肩颈酸痛的问题,常按压此穴,能有效的舒缓紧张的项部肌肉群”

The Liver Meridian is perhaps the most important meridian for women. It is responsible for filtering, detoxifying, nourishing, replenishing, and storing blood. It regulates the amount of blood circulating, withdrawing and storing it when resting or sleeping, and releasing it during exercise.

Tai Chong point (太冲穴) is the source point (原穴)for the Liver meridian. This point help regulates blood flow in the entire body (行血). There are many ways to activate the Qi.

There are many ways to activate the Qi. You can use needling, heat (moxibuxtion), or acupressure (from left to right).