Yoga asanas should never be practiced superficially. Surely we notice the surface, the direction the skin is pulled in, the beads of sweat gathering in the crevices of the armpits but we reach into the depths of our body for the juicy stuff, the transformative shifts.
The kidneys are the storehouse of our deepest vitality. Nestled as they are in the centre of the back, between the front and the back of the body, they are the deepest organs.
Their job is to filter the impurities from our blood and they are therefore paramount to true wellbeing.
Many yoga asanas have a direct effect on the kidneys, they are rinsed, squished, stretched and juiced up from without.
In Chinese medicine the kidneys are related to the element of water, to the ever-changing nature of reality. The element of water has to do with letting go; letting go of impressions, of impurities and even of life itself as we progress along the path of inevitable ageing and death.
The kidneys are also closely related to the ears and the sense of hearing; to sound. B.K.S Iyengar claimed that we practice pranayama with our ears. We attune to the ever-changing true nature of reality that is presented to us through sound. Reality, often obscured by the various robes it wears is stripped down as we sink into silence.
Begin by lying in savasana and releasing the jaw and the inner ear, then rest your hands to lightly cup the lower ribcage, feeling the floating ribs flare out to the sides. This way you are able to fill the lower lobes of the lungs, to expulse stagnant air and to deeply refresh. Take a few moments to deepen the breath into the lower ribcage at the beginning of your practice and notice how the awareness changes. Consciously pour the breath into the kidney area tuning into your deepest vitality.
Then you could practice a few gentle twists to wring out the kidneys:
-Bend your right knee and place the sole of the foot on the floor near the opposite knee. -Press into the ball of your right foot to send the bent knee across the body creating a rich back arch along the right side. -Inhale as you do this movement and hold the inhalation feeling the internal massage of the right kidney and the stretch along the waist. -Return the sole of the foot to the floor on the exhalation and let it settle as you observe internal sensations. -Repeat a few times slowing right down and then change sides.
When you’ve practiced both sides pause in savasana and observe sensations in the mid back.
This exercise acts as a pump for the kidney, aiding its smooth function as a filter.
On our next Hill Yoga retreat from the 2nd-5th November we shall be looking at how we nourish ourselves. Come to learn more practices that will restore your vitality.