Do you ever get cramps?
I notice a bit of cramping in my students (and to be honest sometimes in myself!) in Japanese Yoga classes during winter.
It doesn’t seem to happen as often in other seasons.
If you google ‘why do you get cramps’, you’ll be met with a few reasons why they typically happen.
You can get the full explanation here, but to save you clicking here’s the summary:
“Overuse of a muscle, dehydration, muscle strain or simply holding a position for a prolonged period can cause a muscle cramp. In many cases, however, the cause isn’t known. Although most muscle cramps are harmless, some may be related to an underlying medical condition, such as: Inadequate blood supply”
In Japanese Yoga we take this explanation one step further with our knowledge of meridians and how they influence functions of the body.
Japanese Yoga views cramping as a possible (probable) sign of mineral deficiency.
And mineral deficiency tends to relate to imbalance in the Kidney meridian line.
What’s that got to do with Winter?
We’ll get to that in a sec!
The Kidney meridian, as well as controlling one’s life force and sexual energy -which Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) wisdom sees as being interconnected – regulates the body’s acid-alkaline balance (pH) by selectively filtering out or retaining various minerals.*
In TCM and Japanese Yoga we consider minerals can be depleted for all sorts of reasons, although the most common culprit is sugar.
Sugar literally leaches minerals out of your system- especially along the whole spine.
It may also be why you may notice you ‘coincidentally’ have a sore or stiff neck after a night on the wines or after a spot of indulgence.
Because sugar goes straight to the neck.
Sugar isn’t just the ‘obvious’ stuff of ice-creams, lollies and chocolate- it also includes ‘incognito’ sugar in the form of alcohol, honey and fruit juice.
“That’s great, but what’s this got to do with my winter cramps?” You might be asking…..
You see, winter’s governed by the Bladder and Kidney meridians.
Which means if you have a weakness or imbalance in these meridians -through your constitution or lifestyle habits (usually it’s a combo deal) – it’ll likely show up more pronounced during winter (although admittedly it can show up at any time of the year).
On the bright side, winter’s THE BEST time to work through any imbalances in the Bladder and Kidney meridians as they’re the most responsive to intentional improvement at this time of year.
So- back to cramping…….
You’re in Japanese Yoga class, go into a pose (most likely a pose that activates your Kidney meridian line) and you instantly cramp.
What do you do??
Firstly, never force it.
If it’s too painful to continue, gently come out of the pose, rest and rub the area to get some blood flow.
Certain essential oils are known to support the body when it cramps.
You can try a few drops each of lemongrass and peppermint oils mixed with carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil and gently massage it into cramping muscles.
If you have a tendency to cramp, you might like to try this oils blend before a class to help prevent it.
For more information on pure essential oils and how you can get them, click here.
And if you’re like me and you treat symptoms in your body like little gems of communication, you might ponder the following:
What have I been eating or drinking lately?
What haven’t I been eating lately?
If you find you cramp a lot and want to avoid it in the future, easing up on the sugar (including alcohol) will be helpful.
The other thing you can try is increasing certain foods known to be high in minerals, including – but not limited to- sea vegetables(like konbu, wakame, arame), legumes, nuts + seeds, wholegrains, leafy greens, salmon.
NB: Sometimes cramping can indicate a more serious issue, so if it’s severe or if you’re concerned in any way, please seek medical advice PLUS cut out the sugar;-)
*If you’re curious about the many wonders and functions of the Kidney Meridian you can read more here.