Yoga, Acupressure & Myofascial Lines
Acupressure points are located in specific muscles, around major joints, and allow for a unique and interesting way to practice yoga and study anatomy.
Acupressure powerfully influences the muscles and myofascia and can assist us in developing our practice in a number of ways.
Knowing acupressure can help us to increase flexibility, stop pain, reduce stress, release trigger points, and more.
Stimulating acupressure points can easily be done within poses, through sequencing, and with modifications, adjustments, and gentle touch.
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Acupressure techniques give us knowledge of myofascial release,
muscular kinetics, and functional anatomy.
Downward Dog, The Superficial Back Line (SBL) & the Achilles Tendon
The images show the myofascia of the superficial back line (SBL), the urinary bladder (UB) meridian, and points on the achilles tendon. These points are very effective for pain in the back of the head, neck, and back. We can see from the images that the SBL is very similar to the UB meridian.
By stretching the achilles tendons in a pose like downward dog and moving the neck and legs in specific ways, we can relieve neck and back pain in the SBL and UB meridian. This is a form of myofascial release.
Downward dog is an especially good pose for many conditions of the neck and back, as it alleviates compression in the spine and stretches the myofascia along the SBL and UB meridian.
Stimulating Points with Movement and Yoga Poses
Within any pose there is opportunity to work on various acupressure points. Simple modifications, holds, and kinetic and static movements can allow us to stimulate acupressure points regions in various ways.
There is a point group located between the traditional acupuncture points UB 57 - UB 60 known as the 7 Tigers. These points treat pain in the trapezius (GB 21), scapular region, and neck.
In Warrior and Triangle poses when we press through the outer edge of the foot, it can stretch the 7 Tiger region. By combining specific movements in the arms, shoulders, and neck we can receive additional benefits.
Through synergizing poses with subtle movements and knowledge of point regions, we can stimulate points for therapeutic and structural benefits.
Yoga & Acupressure made easy
Acupressure can be a complex subject with many things to remember. However, by learning the anatomy of the myofascial lines with acupressure, it becomes a lot easier to learn. For instance, there are many muscles and acupressure points on the SBL / UB meridian. Memorizing the location and function of these points can take a lot of time. Additionally, it may not be apparent how to apply acupressure to your yoga practice.
In any forward bend the SBL and urinary bladder meridian will be stretched, as will the myofascia of the muscles along that line. In downward dog the achilles tendon, calves, and hamstrings get a good stretch, as does the back of the neck. Forward bends stretch the muscles and acupressure points on the SBL. Learning about the actions of points in the region of the achilles tendon, calves, and hamstrings has many benefits and can help you relieve neck, shoulder, and back pain.
Acupressure, myofascial release, and functional anatomy are golden keys to deepen your yoga practice and increase the health benefits.
Yoga for Back, Neck, and Shoulder Pain - Don't Over-stretch the SBL
People with back, neck, or shoulder pain often look to yoga for relief. It is also common for teachers and students to recommend doing forward bends to help with these conditions. However, in many cases forward bends will actually aggravate the problem. This is because forward bends cause further strain on the SBL and can weaken already damaged areas.
What many people with pain in the back and neck need are gentle backbends like Salabhasana (locust) or Sarvangasana (bridge) pose. These help to restore the natural curvature of the spine, and they correct the common forward hunching position resulting from too much desk work, sitting, and looking at screens.
Forward bends can frequently make back pain worse.
This image shows a healthy spine with natural curves in the neck and back. The curve in the low back moves inward towards the front of the body. This also occurs in the neck, while the curve in the upper back moves posterior.
Gentle backbends can help to restore the normal and healthy curves in the spine. Additionally, by knowing about acupressure points for back and neck pain in the arms and legs, gentle touch can be used in poses and while making adjustments.
The Superficial Front Line (SFL), Stomach Meridian,
and acupressure points in the Legs
Backbends stretch the SFL and stomach meridian and strengthen the SBL and back muscles. This is part of the reason backbends are good for many people with back and neck pain. On the SFL and stomach meridian are points that can help with low back and neck pain. Acupressure points on the thigh can be used for low back pain, while the points around the ankle can be useful for pain and tightness in the front portion of the neck.
Backbends strengthen and contract the back muscles while stretching the SFL.
There are three major point groups on the SFL and stomach meridian on the legs. One group is located on the thighs, the second group is in tibias anterior just below the knee, and the third group is just above the ankle.
The points in white on the thigh can be useful for back pain, breast tenderness, PMS, respiratory and digestive conditions.
The points below the knee in yellow are in tibialis anterior in the Stomach 36 (ST 36) - ST 40 region. These points are good for digestion and lung disorders. The points in green near the ankle are useful for neck, shoulder, and throat conditions. They are especially effective when the SCM muscle has trigger points.
Notice how the SFL and ST meridian pass through the abdomen, chest, and SCM muscle. The myofascial lines provide an anatomical basis for the meridians, and help us to understand how acupressure works.
Essentially, this relates to functional anatomy and muscular kinetics.
Lunges, the SFL, and the Stomach Meridian
In lunge positions the front knee is bent and this gently stretches the quadriceps. From lunge poses we also have access to point groups in the thigh, and can easily apply acupressure in a variety of ways.
Acupressure in the quadriceps and in the region of ST 32 - ST 34 can be useful for back pain, anterior pelvic tilts, knee problems, PMS, and even abdominal and respiratory conditions.
Many benefits can be realized by learning how to integrate acupressure into yoga practice, massage, bodywork, and self-massage.
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Acupressure Helps With:
Improves Structural Issues
Releasing Trigger Points
Increasing Body Awareness
Emotional Regulation and Meditation