As your trusted source on all things holistic healing, we’re here to introduce to you what Acuyoga is.
What Exactly Is Acuyoga?
Acuyoga is just as it sounds - a combination of acupressure and yoga. The idea is to do yoga asanas while pressing on or stimulating certain acupressure points on the body. Given that both yoga and acupressure aim to restore balance to the body and mind, using both simultaneously has a complementary effect.
Whereas with acupressure therapy where you stimulate acupressure points with needles (acupuncture) or your fingers, Acuyoga encourages patients to use their body to manipulate these points for a stronger effect.
Where Did Acuyoga Start?
While there is evidence of the use of yoga dating back to 2,700BC, and ancient practice of acupressure therapy dates back approximately 3,000 years - Acuyoga was founded in the 1970s. Michael Reed Gach, founder of the Acupuncture Institute in Berkeley, California, realised that yoga poses naturally stimulate specific meridians (invisible energy pathways in the body), which can lead to healing.
Gach, who had been teaching acupressure and yoga for years, blended the principles of acupressure and hatha yoga to create Acuyoga - a self-care tool that anyone can use. The idea, as suggested by Gach, is to learn which acupressure points are targeted in which poses so you can press these areas more intentionally during your practice.
Benefits of Acuyoga
Because Acuyoga combines both yoga and acupressure, the benefits are endless! Some benefits you may expect to feel are:
As any yogi will know, the focus on breath control (Pranayama) during a physical yoga practice can be soothing and revitalising in itself. We all know someone who’s favorite pose is Savansana - the one where you lie on your back and breathe slowly at the end of class! Walking out of a yoga class is often accompanied with a state of bliss!
When you pair the calming effects of asana yoga with stimulating acupressure points related to stress - the result is an excellent tool for stress management.
Strength & Flexibility
In fact, the original purpose of a physical yoga practice was to help build a strong and flexible body that is able to meditate seated for long periods of time without discomfort.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially recognised 39 acupressure points for pain relief and calming the mind. Not only does stimulating sleep-related meridians during yoga practice help with insomnia, but it’s also known to move your brain waves into a relaxed state.
Moreover, physical yoga itself, especially when there is a focus on breath, is known to help with sleep. A national survey found that over 55% of people who did yoga found that it helped them get better sleep. Over 85% said yoga helped reduce stress.
The beauty of yoga, and most holistic practices, is that there is a focus on not just physical health but also mental health too. Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines breath control, meditation, and movements - making it ideal for helping with chronic pain.
A study of 313 people with chronic lower back pain found that a weekly yoga class increased mobility more than standard medical care.
Applying acupressure techniques while practicing yoga only doubles up the pain relief effects. Some preliminary evidence suggests that acupressure may help with lower back pain, postoperative pain, or headaches.
How Does Acupressure Work?
While many may be familiar with yoga, how acupressure works is less well-known. Acupressure is an ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice that focuses on massaging or stimulating meridians (invisible energy pathways) to revitalise stagnant or deficient energy (Qi).
The belief is that physical or emotional issues arise when Qi is unhealthy, and that different organs are related to different meridians. For example, Qi may become sluggish in the large intestine meridian causing symptoms such as constipation, bloating and IBS.
Acupressure can be applied through the use of needles (acupuncture), hands, fingers and elbows (acupressure massage) or using ear seeds.
3 Acuyoga Poses To Try
1. Squat Pose
Standing with your feet a bit more than hip-width apart, bend your knees pointing outwards as you lower into a deep squat position - as low as you can go comfortably. Place your elbows against the inside of your knees and push your palms together in prayer position. Holding your palms together at heart or breastbone level - lift your chest upwards.
As you hold this asana, maintain a steady, smooth breath. Press your thumbs to rest against your chest and apply pressure. This is the acupressure point named CV17 or Conception Vessel Meridian. It is particularly helpful to relieve coughs and improve chest and lung health. Emotionally, it is also a point to release suppressed feelings.
2. Camel Pose
From a kneeling position, knees hip-width apart, draw an imaginary line from your belly button back to your spine. Place your fingers at that point on your spine, then move them laterally about an inch outwards. This is an acupressure point on the bladder meridian called B23.
Moving your fingers again an inch outwards from your spin and press to activate the B47 points. Both of these points are known to help with lower back pain relief and to improve kidney health.
While still in the kneeling position, press your thumbs into your chosen acupressure point and rest your fingers on your waist. On the exhale, slowly lean backwards into a gentle backbend while opening your chest. Hold for about 30 seconds and then come out of this healing pose.
3. Child’s Pose
For a more passive pose, take a break in child’s pose by sitting on your heels and lowering your body onto the mat, knees pointing out at a 45 degree angle. Rest your forehead on the mat and arms stretched towards the front of the mat or resting by your sides.
Child’s Pose stimulates meridian points associated with the stomach. This meridian makes its way up into the face so resting your forehead on the mat is helpful. You may also choose to use your hand to stimulate the third eye point at the bridge of the nose.
Can You Do Acuyoga With A Partner?
Acuyoga is most commonly practiced solo as you focus on your own asanas while applying pressure to specific acupressure points however partner acuyoga is possible. In fact, a partner can be an excellent addition specifically for pre-natal Acuyoga.
Other Types of Acupressure Therapy
While acupressure can be practiced during asana yoga to combine the two practices into one, it can also be practiced in the form of acupuncture, acupressure massage or ear seeding.
All forms of acupressure are based on the same premise - that stimulating stagnant or blocked energy in meridians can help soothe, heal, and restore the body and mind back to health.
Ear Seeding, for example, is where you typically stick on small golden beads to acupressure points on your outer ear. You wear the ear seeds for several days and massage or gently press the ear seed several times per day.
Just like Acuyoga, ear seeds are an accessible, holistic, and safe tool that you can use at home. Our ear seed kits come with an ear placement chart showing you where to place the ear seeds based on the health issue you’re looking to improve, like anxiety, sleep or fertility.
Whether you’re looking to try Acuyoga, Ear Seeding or other holistic healing treatments, we’re always curious to hear about your experiences. Join our TCM community on Facebook to stay in touch!