Yoga for the Army General a.k.a the Liver
I’m obsessed with organs at the moment, not in the ‘head-to-tail eating’ variety, but the internal organs of humans and in particular, how they are affected by yoga. I think it’s incredible that when we pay close attention we can actually imagine and even feel these organs and the affect the different yoga poses have on them.
This week all my classes have been about the Liver. In the Chinese philosophy, Taoism, the liver is described as ‘The Army General’. I really love the idea of creating characters out of organs to explain bodily functions. ‘Organ characters’ become even more interesting when we think about their personality. We can do this by looking at the energetic body, the energy/chi/lifeforce running through the organs. Taoism refers to certain emotions arising when different organs are out of balance (for example a liver that is sluggish/congested or alternatively an over active liver). The Liver is most commonly associated with the emotions Anger & Kindness. When you think of the expression, ‘he/she was Livid’ this makes sense. I wonder what happens when the Army General is over active/hyper? How will this affect our demeanour?
‘The Liver is a very complex organ; it has a number of functions, protein production, storing and releasing blood, blood clotting regulating cholesterol, and glucose and iron metabolism. And by continually filtering our blood, the liver detoxifies and cleanses our bodies.’
With tasks like this, it’s no wonder the Liver is referred to as the Army General. Without a doubt, no matter how clean living you are, urban living means everyone can benefit from a boost to liver function. The good news is the liver is able to heal itself so along with a good diet and yoga focusing on the Liver, we can assist the overall flow of energy throughout the body and boost our well-being.
When we move through certain yoga sequences especially in Yin yoga we are able to work directly on the Liver meridian, opening the energy channels allowing fresh Prana/Chi/Lifeforce to flow to the liver.
Here are two poses (of many yoga poses) that help to improve the functioning of the Liver.
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes) – See the image above
This twist to the spine tones and massages the abdominal organs. It improves the functioning of the liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys an intestines.
Wide leg straddle pose (Dragonfly – Yin yoga) – image below
This pose works on the section of the Liver meridian that flows up the inside of the legs into the groin. By relaxing the muscles and holding this pose we start to open energy channels allowing fresh chi/prana to flow into this liver meridian channel.
According to BKS Iyengar, Camel Pose also tones the liver, kidneys and spleen. You can check out my post about Camel pose by clicking here.
Note: These poses are just a couple to give an example of how yoga can help to boost our internal organs. Benefits come from a regular practice that incorporate a variety of asanas.
If you are also interested in your organs, stay tuned next week I’ll give some Ayurvedic recipes for the Liver!
Joy to the Liver!
 Insight Yoga by Sarah Powers
 BKS Iyengar Yoga