Saturday, 20 February 2021

Full moon in Virgo, Saturday 27 February 2020, Affecting the Small Intestines

This Saturday 27 February's full moon in Virgo will be affecting the Small Intestine (SI) meridian.

In Chinese medicine this meridian is connected to the Fire Element (which has 4 meridians connected to it, while the other 4 elements only have 2 meridians each connected to them). The Small Intestine Meridian is a Yang meridian, paired with the Yin meridian of the Heart. All Fire Element meridians help us connect with the inner fire, the flame of our soul. 

The path of this meridian runs as follows: it starts where the Heart meridian (its Yin pair) finishes, namely in the outer tip of the little finger. It then runs along the back edge of the hand, through the wrist, upward along the outer forearm and upper arm, to the shoulder. After zigzagging along the back of the shoulder it meets the Governor Vessel meridian which runs along the center of the back. Here it branches, with a first branch going inside the body and descending through the heart, diaphragm and stomach before ending in the small intestines. A second branch ascends along the side of the neck to the cheek and outer corner of the eye, from where it goes to the ear. A third small branch leaves the cheek to run to the inner eye, where it meets the Urinary Bladder meridian.



                                          

The human Small Intestine is about 6 meters or 20 feet long. A semi-permeable barrier that sorts (and thus is responsible for discernment) solids and liquids into useful nutrients vs. waste to be eliminated, it is responsible for the absorption of nutrients from our food into our blood (which then takes it to our cells). Its surface is a mucous layer containing beneficial bacteria and essential parts of the immune system. 

The term 'leaky gut' refers exactly to this intestinal barrier becoming compromised, holes appearing, and particles that shouldn't be entering our bloodstream doing exactly that, thus creating food intolerances, inflammation, immune system issues and ultimately auto-immune disorders. (This is a field of natural healthcare that I'm personally specialised in as a natural healthcare provider, so feel free to contact me if this is something you want to work on).

The SI meridian's energy is about separating the pure from the impure - on the physical, mental and emotional level. It can be regarded in connection to the Ayurvedic or yogic Agni Tattva, i.e. the fire of digestion, but also the fire of transformation, of alchemy, of profound inner change. The digestive fire changes food into blood. The fire of the heart gives us spiritual endurance; when we see that fire in someone's eyes, we know they are living from their heart. Fire is the great purifier. 

On a mental/emotional level, the SI meridian stands for Discernment - the so-called Buddhi aspect of the mind (aka Bibek Buddh). The SI meridian influences our mental clarity, judgment, and our powers of discernment. The ability to distinguish relevant issues with clarity before making a decision is attributed to the Small Intestine. 

A weak Small Intestine loses the capacity to discern useful nutrients from garbage. This manifests in poor absorption of food, but the brain will soon start spluttering as well, becoming overwhelmed and indecisive. 
The SI function can also be affected by emotions such as anger that cause Liver Qi to stagnate, and fear, which together can cause digestion to stop altogether. That's why we say to never eat when you're angry or upset...

The key for this full moon is to simplify everything. Keep your diet simple and pure. Keep life simple and pure.


Symptoms of an imbalanced small intestine meridian:
  • Problems digesting food
  • Stomach problems
  • Pain in lower abdomen
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Sluggish gut
  • Gut inflammation
  • Leaky gut
  • Bacterial imbalance
  • Confusion about what is and isn't pure
  • Unclear life direction
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Inability to focus on 1 single task
  • Taking on too many things at once
  • Feeling of being pulled in many directions
  • Ear problems (e.g. deafness)
  • Eye problems
  • Pain in shoulders and neck (along the path of the meridian)
  • Congestive Heart Failure is also linked to SI chronic inflammation
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Moodiness
  • Irritability
  • Pessimism
  • PMS
  • Melancholy
Things to avoid:
  • An overly critical attitude
  • Too much self-analysis
  • Overeating low nutrient foods that require excessive sorting
  • Eating on the go without complete chewing (stresses the small intestines)
  • GMO foods with pesticides and herbicides
  • Excess cold and raw foods (can cause cold to accumulate in the Small Intestine)
  • Excess hot and spicy foods (can cause heat to accumulate)
Tips to balance the meridian:
  • Hold and massage the little finger of each hand for 2 minutes
  • Wear red clothes, use red crystals such as garnet, red jasper, red carnelian, red agate, ...
Things to eat:
  • Bitter foods: turmeric, quinoa, basil, grapefruit, karela (bitter gourd), rucola, green tea (washed), dark chocolate, ...
  • Red foods
  • Psyllium and chlorophyll daily help to keep the intestinal tract clean.
Some malas that can greatly help balance this meridian:

Yoga for the small intestines: 
  • Any and all postures that work on the third chakra and navel point: leg lifts, leg pulls and pushes, Stretch Pose (1-11 mins.), Sat Kriya (3-31 mins. -- see https:www.3ho.org/articles/everything-kriya-sat-kriya for a full explanation), pumping the navel and breath of fire, ...
Stretch Pose


Sat Kriya

  • Yoga Mudra: sitting in Rock Pose (on the heels) with the hands interlaced in Venus Mudra behind the back, bow forwards bringing the forehead to the floor (or onto a cushion that you put in front of you) while lifting the arms up behind you as high as you can. (You just lift up the arms as high as they can go - it might look nothing like the picture for you and they might only be lifted slightly - don't worry, that's okay).
Yoga Mudra
  • Shoulder Stand with long deep breathing or breath of fire. (3-10 mins - not advised when menstruating).
  • Half Boat or Boat Pose (1-3 mins.)
Kriyas:
Sources: www.divinehuman.com & https://fiveseasonsmedicine.com/the-small-intestine-channel-discernment-sorting-mental-clarity/

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Full Moon in Leo Affecting the Heart Meridian - Thursday 28 January 2021

The full moon coming up on Thursday 28 January will be one in the sign of Leo, the lion, and will - as the Leo full moon always does - be governing the heart meridian. 

The heart meridian is one of the Yin meridians of the Fire element (the Pericardium being the second Yin meridian of this element) and is paired with its Yang counterpart of the Small Intestines meridian (both connect in the tip of the little finger).

To quote from the ancient Chinese text the Huang Di Nei Jing (written 4,700 years ago): "The heart is the sovereign of all organs and represents the consciousness of one's being. It is responsible for intelligence, wisdom, and spiritual transformation."

The heart meridian is considered to be the seat of spirituality as well as the ruler of wisdom and good judgement. The heart moreover also rules clarity of speech; that is why words can touch our heart so deeply in a positive way, or hurt so deeply. The heart (also called the Hirdaa in Gurbani) is also where we can meet our spirit, our soul, most easily.

When the heart is strong we radiate, especially from the eyes -- the Heart houses the Shen (the Spirit of the Heart) which radiates and shines from a person's eyes and face.

The heart is the first organ to start working while we are developing in our mother's womb, and it's the last to give out - in between, it beats steadily, without ever taking a break (unlike other organs which get to rest at intervals). 
The Heart is truly the Emperor of all organs, and it rules over our entire being: physical, emotional, mental and subtle. It is responsible for our blood and for circulating it through the vessels to nourish the cells. Chinese Medicine understands that the Mind & Perception (our mental abilities as well as our Consciousness) actually reside in the Heart - not in the brain, as Western medicine mistakenly thinks. Tellingly, the heart's electromagnetic field is many times stronger than the brain's electromagnetic field.

The Heart also dominates sleep. If it is strong, a person will fall asleep easily and sleep soundly. If the Heart is weak though, the person's mind will 'float', causing an inability to fall asleep, disturbed sleep, or excessive dreaming.

Causes of an imbalance in the Heart meridian can include tremendous emotional sorrow or a sudden powerful emotional shock (which is well-known to cause heart attacks or strokes).
Image result for heart meridian


The 3 branches of the Heart meridian all begin in the heart. One branch flows downward through the diaphragm to meet the small intestines. Another rises up alongside the throat, runs alongside the mouth (both left and right) over the cheek and ends in the lower eye both left and right. The third branch (again of course left and right both) runs across the chest, through the lungs, and comes out through the armpit. It flows along the midline of the inside upper arm, through the inner elbow, along the midline of the inner lower arm, until it crosses the wrist and palm, before ending in the inside tip of the little finger where it connects to the Small Intestine meridian.


Symptoms indicating an imbalance or blockage:
  • Disorders of the heart and chest: palpitations, pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Pain along the meridian path.
  • Night sweats
  • Vivid or disturbing dreams
  • Insomnia
  • Sadness and sorrow 
  • Nervousness or fearfulness & anxiety
  • Mental confusion & confused thinking 
  • Poor memory
  • A sense of dread
  • Emotional ups & downs 
  • Any kind of speech problems: talking incessantly, laughing inappropriately, nervous giggling and talking, stuttering, aphasia (the inability to speak)
  • Loss of taste 
  • Bitter taste in the mouth
  • A red tongue tip (caused by heat), red face
  • Inability to love
  • Lacking emotional warmth
  • Easily becoming hot-cold on the emotional level
  • Rounded-off shoulders
  • Mouth or tongue sores
  • Cataracts 
Remember: Where there is love, there is no fear. Where there is fear, there is no love.

What best to eat?
  • All red foods: red peppers, watermelon, cherries, red grapes, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, grapefruit, red cabbage, tomatoes, saffron, etc.
  • Bitter foods: rucola, red beets, turmeric, basil, Brussels sprouts, quinoa, bitter gourd (karelay), dark chocolate, green & black tea (in moderation if at all, and definitely do always wash the leaves first because of the caffeine's effect on your kidneys (one cup's effects will last for 8 weeks) - I stay clear of these regardless what moon it is, or I choose matcha green tea which is the only actual 'tea' leaf I consume), etc.

What to reduce or avoid?
  • Be aware: too much of bitter foods is not good 
  • Spicy food
  • Sugar
  • Overthinking
  • Try to avoid distraction or unclear direction in life (Archer Pose is a great way to work on this aspect and help the Heart meridian in this area).
  • Time pressure - the heart suffers from this. Try not to feel rushed and pressured, keep breathing and relaxing through this time.
  • Stasis or stagnation
  • A lack of love in your environment

General tips to help this meridian:
  • Wear red, pink or green clothes or carry red, pink or green stones (red coral, garnet, unakite, rose quartz, pink Peruvian opal, rhodonite, pink tourmaline, ruby-zoisite, mookaite, chrysocolla) over the heart or on the little finger. 
As you might know, I make malas, and you can order malas in these crystals on the webshop or directly with me if you want: https://www.shuniya-yoga.org/product-category/malas/ - I have included a small selection with links at the end of this newsletter, but you'll find many more options on the webshop.
  • Hold and massage the little finger of each hand for 2 minutes. 
  • Think and say the key phrase “I will.” 
  • Practice gratitude
  • Journal, express your emotions
  • Meditate & find time for reflection
  • Make time to create nourishing environments for yourself
  • Connect to those you love
  • Rumi has written beautifully about the Heart - reading his work can be a great way to connect

Yoga for the heart meridian:
  • Cow Face Pose: Grab your hands behind your back. One arm goes over the shoulder, with the other under and behind the back. In KY, the crossing of the legs in shoelace is optional. Do Breath of fire for 3 minutes, then reverse the arms and repeat. If your hands don't touch, you can hold on to the ends of a small towel or cloth. 
Image result for cow face pose kundalini yoga
  • Sit with the hands folded over the heart center, left hand under, right hand over, and just be with your breath.
  • All exercises with the arms at shoulder height or above.
  • Mantra - Chattr Chakkr Vartee is a great mantra for the heart, as is e.g. Guru Guru Wahe Guru Guru Ram Daas Guru

Kriyas:

There are dozens of Kundalini Yoga kriyas for the Heart Chakra. I used to even run 3-day retreats on this topic and offer a 10-session private class series on it too. Here are a few nice ones to practice: 
·         Kriya to open the Heart Center
·         Exercises for the Heart Center (we practiced this kriya in class last week)

Malas that can be extremely helpful (and there are many more on the webshop, just search for Heart Chakra):

Sunday, 27 December 2020

Full Moon in Cancer Affecting the Spleen Meridian - December 30, 2020

We started 2020 with a full moon in Cancer affecting the Spleen-Pancreas meridian (Friday, January 10th 2020) and we end 2020 with another one. The Spleen meridian - together with the Stomach meridian - is associated with the Earth Element in Chinese medicine. 


As you can see in the below images, the Spleen meridian runs very close to the stomach meridian.

  
The Spleen has quite a wide range of functions in the body, ranging from digestion to the immune system, preserving muscle tone and taking care of our sensuality. The Spleen basically manifactures Qi energy (prana) from the food we eat: it plays a central role in the production of blood and the extraction of prana (Qi energy, life force). Its role is to transform and move foods, liquids and thoughts (!) in the body (all that we consider 'digesting'). This is why the Spleen is also called 'the source of postnatal (i.e. acquired, not born with) Qi/Prana'. It sends the pranic essence to the lungs and heart plus distributes nutrients through the blood to every cell. 
The spleen houses the body's thoughts and intentions (Yi) - hence why one of the imbalances comes out as overthinking or worrying - and is responsible for sharp analytical thinking, memory, cognition, intelligence and ideas. 
The spleen also plays a primary role in the lymphatic system (it is the largest organ of the lymphatic system) and immune system as it helps the body recognise foreign invaders. It keeps our tissues, muscles, and thoughts moist, supple, adaptable. The spleen is responsible for the removal of old red blood cells and the production and storage of white blood cells, which cleanse pathogenic bacteria from our blood. Functionally, the spleen is equivalent to a large lymph node, with a focus on cleansing our blood and thus aiding immunity.
The Spleen is in charge of us being centered and feeling well with who we are and where we are on this planet, providing a stable 'home environment' for ourselves. If we have that stability, we are able to focus our minds keenly and sharply
The Spleen is known as the Mother Organ of the physical body (as it nourishes the other organs) and relates to the earth element. It governs our sense of taste and 'true nourishment'. 
It also regulates our different bio-rhythms, including women's menstrual cycles.
The sweetness of life is needed to feel nourished, grounded and balanced in life. The spleen is associated with the Earth element, and with the energy of a Mother - and to take good care of it, think of what you could associate with this: 
  • warm food (broths, soups)
  • lightly cooked vegetables, especially nourishing root vegetables (see below)
  • a stable home environment
  • calm eating habits
  • regular mealtimes
  • a comfortable daily routine
  • chewing your food well
  • doing one thing at a time instead of multi-tasking (or eating while doing something else)
  • mindful living
  • taking a break, doing nothing
Worry and overthinking are the Spleen's greatest enemies and cause spleen depletion.
Follow the suggestions below to increase the experience of a sweet life (and not need sugar or artificial sweeteners!). 
Symptoms of an Interrupted Flow, Imbalance of, or Blockage in the Spleen Meridian: 
  • general muscle tightness
  • muscle weakness
  • digestion problems & stomach pain
  • abdominal bloating
  • worry
  • (mental) stress
  • depression
  • craving for news and reading
  • overeating
  • irregular meals
  • not being able to relax at mealtimes
  • thinking all the time, overthinking
  • compulsive behavior
  • cold hands
  • distracted, not finishing things
  • chronic fatigue
  • exhaustion (physical and/or mental)
  • mental sluggishness
  • Alzheimer's
  • dementia
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • avoiding protein in your meals
  • nightmares
  • edema
  • cold hands & feet
  • too much standing
  • craving cold or raw food (detrimental to the spleen)
  • easy bruising
  • dizziness
  • pale complexion
  • sleepwalking
  • vaginal discharge

Things to Eat:
All yellow/orange fruits and vegetables (squash, pumpkin, parsnip, carrots, papaya, banana, oranges, persimmons, ...). To promote the feeling of nurturing oneself, eat naturally sweet foods. Ripe bananas would be an excellent food for balancing this meridian. Another great food for the spleen is a dish of millet with Chinese dates and some pumpkin or squash cooked to a soup. Sweet flavours are known as the flavours of harmony and are associated with Mother Earth. If the spleen is in distress, sweet flavours can harmonise and benefit the central Qi. If, however, one uses sweet foods excessively, they will start producing phlegm, obstruct transformation and harm the flesh of the body, which in turn will lead to swelling, bloating, obesity, and diabetes. 
Things to Avoid/Reduce:
  • Living in the past
  • Worrying
  • Overthinking
  • Too much work/stress
  • Multi-tasking
  • Standing while you work
  • Irregular mealtimes
  • Chaotic schedule
  • Raw foods, fruit juices, milk products
  • Cold foods and drinks, iced drinks
  • Overeating
  • Caffeine (caffeine acts as 'False Qi', which can lead to high blood pressure, agitation, depression and heart palpitations)
  • Honey
  • Chocolate
  • Sugars, sweets
  • Glycemic foods
  • Processed foods
Tips:  
Yoga for the Spleen:  
  • Horse stand: Stand with feet firmly on the ground, knees slightly bent, hands loosely on the thighs, body relaxed. Close the eyes, visualize and feel the energy flowing from the deep within the earth upwards through the souls of your feet and continuing up.
  • All pranayama (breathing exercises), but especially Sitali Pranayam, which takes poison away from the spleen, liver and digestive system.
  • Camel Pose 
  • Back Platform
  • Locust Pose:  Lie on your stomach with your chin on the ground. Make fists and place them underneath your groin and lift your legs up. Hold with long deep breathing. Relax in the posture and visualize the color YELLOW in your body, up to 10 minutes.


Recommended Kriya and Meditation:


Meditation Malas / Crystals that will support the Spleen:




Sources: www.divinehuman.com & https://fiveseasonsmedicine.com/the-spleen-meridian-sweet-flavors-and-balanced-biorhythms/ 

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Full Moon in Gemini affecting the Stomach Meridian – November 30, 2020

 Monday 30 November 2020 will see a Gemini full moon governing the Stomach meridian. 

Emotional stability is the key phrase for navigating this full moon.

 


Sikhs all across the world will be celebrating the Avtaar Purb (Gurpurb – birthday) of their first Guru, Dhan Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji Maharaj on this Full Moon (in our Bikrami moon calendar system – which predates the Gregorian calendar – this particular full moon is called Katak Sudi Puranmasi). From a Western point of view you would probably equate it with Christmas – but as we have a lineage of 10 Gurus in human form and one in the eternal form of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji (i.e. the written form in shabad), we have a good few more Christmas-like dates to celebrate, i.e. 11…

 

Back to the stomach and its meridian though:

The Yang Stomach meridian works closely together with its Yin paired meridian of the Spleen, as well as with the Large Intestines, to protect against illnesses.

In TCM, the stomach is called names such as “the Minister of the Mill”, the “Sea of Nourishment” or the “Root of Postnatal Life”, because it is responsible for providing the entire human body with energy coming from the digestion of food and fluids.

In addition to digesting food and liquids and moving them to the small intestines for extraction and assimilation of nutrients, the stomach also has an important energetic job. It extracts energy from foods and fluids, and coordinates with the spleen to transport that energy to the lungs. In the lungs, this energy combines with Qi energy (Prana) from the air that we breathe.

Any dysfunction of the stomach immediately results in imbalances in the other organs.

However, as the stomach is the strongest organ and has the longest meridian of all organs (with 45 points), it can take a long time for disease to show up.

The stomach meridian is associated with our ability to assimilate new ideas, absorb information, as well as our ability to honour and nurture ourselves. As we receive subtle energy from the universe through the food we take in, the stomach is also an important organ to receive universal information into our bodies. This energy is then passed on to the small intestine meridian where it is carefully sorted – do we keep/absorb it, or do we let it go and eliminate it? (think of phrases in English like: “I can’t stomach this (information, emotion,…) now”, etc.)

Furthermore, the stomach is also the base for our emotional stability and the place where we sense emotion. In the same vein, the stomach meridian plays a vital role in our mental state, and imbalances in this meridian can cause many types of mental disturbances (see the list of symptoms further below).

 

Beginning at the side of the nose, the Stomach meridian rises to the corner of the eye (where it connects to the Urinary Bladder meridian) before descending along the side of the nose, to enter the upper gum, and follow the outer lips to the lower jaw, toward the joint of the jaw.

Here it branches, with one branch ascending again along the front of the ear to the forehead. The other branch descends through the body to the diaphragm and runs to the stomach (the organ) and spleen.

A third branch emerges from the lower jaw and runs across the outside of the body, crossing the chest and belly, until it terminates in the groin. The second branch, that runs through the stomach, reconnects here with this third branch and then as one line they run downward along the front of the leg down to the top of the foot, where there is another split. The main branch ends in the outside (lateral) tip of the second toe. The second branch reaches the inner (medial) side of the big toe, where it meets the Spleen meridian.

Just below the knee, yet an additional branch also split off, to run to the lateral side of the third toe.


Symptoms of an interrupted flow of the stomach meridian:

 

·                                          digestive problems: bloating, vomiting

·                                          stuffy nose / sinusitis 

·                                          neck / arm / shoulder pain 

·                                          burping 

·                                          dry mouth 

·                                          constipation

·                                          depression

·                                          anxiety, fear, dread

·                                          confusion; being overcritical or gullible

·                                          deep sadness and even despair

·                                          feeling stifled

·                                          hyperactivity & overactive sympathetic nervous system

·                                          some types of ADD

·                                          instability

·                                          doubt

·                                          suspicions

·                                          mania

·                                          suicidal tendencies & death wishes

·                                          addictive behaviour 

·                                          egotisticalness & a sense of over-importance of the self

·                                          slowness at assimilating new ideas

·                                          pain in any of the areas the meridian passes through (mouth, nose, teeth, gums, …)

Tips:

·                                          Eat yellow/orange foods like corn, squash, mango, banana, sweet potato, papaya, cantaloupe.

·                                          Wear yellow clothes and carry or wear yellow stones like Amber, Sunstone, Citrine, Yellow Jade, Yellow Mookaite, Tiger Eye and Yellow Tourmaline. Other helpful stones (of which you can also use malas - see https://www.shuniya-yoga.org/product-category/malas/ for a wide variety of choices) are the other colours of Mookaite, Bloodstone, Goldstone, Rhodonite, Amethyst, all Agates, all other Tourmalines, ...


Avoid:

·                                          stress

·                                          worry

·                                          overthinking

·                                          irregular meals

·                                          quick eating

·                                          wheat & gluten

·                                          food that is either too hot or too cold

·                                          coffee & caffeine

·                                          smoking

·                                          alcohol

·                                          soft drinks

·                                          drinking with your meals (drink between meals instead)

·                                          aspirin, ibuprofen, pharmaceuticals and pain medication

·                                          eating while multi-tasking

·                                          eating before going to sleep or even lying down after meals

·                                          eating when angry

Flu/Cold symptoms:

Chinese remedy Po Chai works on relieving both stomach and virus symptoms.

Yoga:

·                     Yoga mudra is an excellent posture for balancing this meridian. 3-11 minutes (hands are in Venus lock (interlaced), and you just lift up the arms as high as they can go - it might look nothing like the picture for you and they might only be lifted slightly - don't worry, that's okay).


·                     Mulbandh (root lock)

                      Sitting in Rock Pose (sitting on the heels)

·                     Any chanting with HAR at the navel

·                     Fish Pose with long deep breathing


·                     Bow pose and rocking in bow while chanting SA TA NA MA. 


 

Recommended Kriyas:

 

Sources: www.divinehuman.com and https://fiveseasonsmedicine.com/the-stomach-meridian-root-of-life-after-birth/