Yoga and Meridians - How Do They Relate?

Exploring The Meridians In Relation To Yoga

Jing, means ‘to go through’ and Luo means ‘that which connects’. It is translated as ‘channels’ and is commonly known as Meridians.

Through the Indian Yogic tradition, it is said that Prana or ‘life force’ moves through energy channels called Nadis, carrying life energy through the subtle layer of our being. 

In the same way, according to Chinese tradition, Qi moves through a network of energy pathways called ‘Jing-luo’

In both ancient practices, these pathways interconnect all tissues and cells within the body

The chakras in Yoga are considered the main energetic points of energy storage and distribution. While Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), based on the Taoist tradition, focuses on the organs being the main source. It distinguishes 12 main meridians, including 8 minor ones and many others. 

Yin and Yang Energy

According to the Taoist tradition, everything in life is associated with Yin and Yang energy, which creates balance. This is also why the organ meridians form in unique pairs. The 12 major meridians mentioned above, includes 5 Yin meridians, 5 Yang meridians, plus the Pericardium meridian, and the San Jiao meridian.

5 Yin meridians

Store energies and fluids.

  • Heart
  • Spleen
  • Lungs
  • Kidneys
  • Liver

5 Yang meridians

Transform & transmit energies and fluids.

  • Small intestines
  • Stomach
  • Large intestine
  • Urinary bladder
  • Gallbladder

Elimination & Circulation

Pericardium Meridian | San Jiao Meridian

The San Jiao meridian,  sometimes called the Triple Burner relates to the intake, transformation, and elimination of energy.

The Pericardium meridian also called ‘Heart Constrictor’ relates to circulation, and protects the heart.

They are not usually linked to a particular emotion.

The Meridian Pairs

In TCM, each organ pair is linked to a particular element and different emotions, while also having specific functions in our body.

Heart & Small Intestine

Element: Fire
Function: Blood circulation and mental functions.
Balanced Emotion: Happiness, joy, love, and decisiveness, as well as seeing the good in the self and others.

Signs of disharmony: When the Heart/Small intestine Qi is unbalanced, heartache, feelings of sadness, hatred, desperation, lack of enthusiasm and vitality, mental restlessness, depression, insomnia, inability to make decisions, and despair can occur.

Related Yogic Chakra: Anahata | Heart Chakra

Yin Yoga poses for the Heart/Small intestine meridian: Wide Child Pose Variation, Wild Thing, Horse Side Stretch, Melting heart. and Dolphin.

Lung and Large Intestine

Element: Metal
Function: Controls respiration and regulates water flow. 
Balanced Emotion:  At peace, renewal, excitement, an ability to let go and move on, surrenders control.

Signs of disharmony: When Lungs/Large intestines Qi is unbalanced we tend to feel sadness and grief associated with a sense of loss, a need to be in control, and feelings of emptiness.

Related Yogic Chakra: Anahata | Heart Chakra

Yin Yoga poses for the Lungs/Large Intestines meridian: Thread the Needle, Gate, Cowface, Reverse Triangle, and Bowing Mudra.

Spleen & Stomach

Element: Earth
Function: Reservoir for food and water, feeds the rest of the organs. 
Balanced Emotion: Trust, calm, and serenity, belief in goodness, compassion, healthy responsiveness, and caring.

Signs of disharmony: When imbalanced, can manifest as an excessive need for approval, anxiety, nervousness, and overthinking, pessimism, and extreme worry

Related Yogic Chakra: Manipura | Solar Plexus

Yin Yoga poses to work on the Stomach/Spleen meridian: Cobra, Low Lunge, Garland, Seated Straddle, Lizard, and Sleeping Swan.

Kidneys & Bladder

Element: Water
Function: Regulates water volume, coordinates respiration, and stores Jing: our essence. 
Balanced Emotion:  Strong, optimistic, trusting, courageous, wisdom acceptance of self, healthy connections, and hope.

Signs of disharmony: When imbalanced, fearful of the outside world, despairing, pessimistic, depressed, unable to let go, and lack trust, loneliness, ashamed of self, traumatized, frozen.

Related Yogic Chakra: Svadhishthana | Sacral Chakra

Yin Yoga poses for Kidney/Urinary Bladder Meridian: Supine Twist, Child’s pose, Dangling, Reclined Twist, Seal, and Side Lying Forward Bend.

Liver & Gallbladder

Element: Wood
Function: Stores blood, regulates Qi flow, the seat of our soul.
Balanced Emotion: Kind, merciful, tolerant and forgiving

Signs of disharmony: When Liver/Gallbladder Qi is unbalanced, frustration and defensiveness can occur as guilt, feeling paralyzed and unable to stand up for ourselves, making rash and impulsive decisions, anger at others, rage,  judgemental and critical.

Related Yogic Chakra: Manipura | Solar Plexus

Yin Yoga poses for Liver/Gallbladder meridian:

Mermaid side stretch, Butterfly, Seal, Shoelace, Revolved Puppy, and Swan.

For more on how all this prana and qi stuff relates to our internal organs and emotions, enjoy this journey through the chakras and begin to understand the energies that support and expand our human experience.