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6 Steps to Relieving Stress with a Wooden Pillow

6 Steps to Relieving Stress with a Wooden Pillow
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Today I’m going to share with you how you can instantly melt stress while doing nothing more than lying flat on your back and breathing.

Oh yeah — and you’ll need a piece of wood.

In a world full of expensive gadgets and never-ending technological updates (aren’t we on iPhone 5,000,0093 or something?), it might seem almost radical to use something so simple.

But don’t be fooled: For all its simplicity, the wooden pillow can do a ton for you… Like release stress from your mind, relieve tension in your body, and help counteract spinal misalignments caused by the things we do in modern life... such as, ahem, staring down at that iPhone all the time. (Just sayin’.)

The best part about the wooden pillow is that you mostly just need to lie there and let it do the work.

What exactly is a wooden pillow?

The wooden pillow is a lightweight piece of wood designed to fit the curves of the body. Although it’s now being rediscovered by many people, it’s quite ancient technology. It’s been around for many generations in Asian countries, used in homes and bathhouses to bring relief for various aches and pains.

Change Your Energy founder Ilchi Lee has updated the wooden pillow practice for modern times so that anyone can use it as a natural tool for self-healing and relaxation.

Below, I’ll walk you through a six-step practice using the wooden pillow for stress relief.

But first, there’s a key principle you should understand…

Water Up, Fire Down

Much like the earth, your body is a miniature ecosystem. There is a certain way the “weather” of your body must flow in order for things to be in good balance. In East Asian medicine, this is known as the “water up, fire down” principle.

“Water up, fire down” states that in order to remain in a healthy, balanced state, cool water energy must flow up from the kidneys to the head, while hot fire energy must flow down from the heart to gather in the abdomen.

Unfortunately, modern society often leads to a reversed energy condition (fire up, water down). A sedentary lifestyle leaves the lower abdomen weak and cold, and lacking the energy needed to pull fire energy down. Fire energy gets stuck in the head, and this is only made worse by the fast-paced, information-overload culture we all live in.

Stress itself is a form of fire energy. It’s not bad — it can be used for good — but when it gets out of balance and we don’t have a way to get back to the proper energy flow, tension builds up. We become more prone to prolonged negative emotion, an unfocused and restless mind, and anxiety.

Using the wooden pillow can release this blocked energy stuck in the upper body, and open up the pathways to return to a state of “water up, fire down.”

6 Steps to Relieve Stress With a Wooden Pillow

Here’s a process taken from the book, Wooden Pillow Exercises for Stiff Neck, Shoulder Pain, Spinal Health, and Relaxation:

  • 1. Lie on the floor with your arms about 45 degrees from the body and your feet shoulder-width apart. You can use a small pillow or towel under your head for comfort. Turn your palms upward, tuck your chin in slightly to straighten your neck, and relax.


  • 2. Close your eyes and focus on breathing into your chest. You don’t have to force deep breaths, just follow your natural breathing. Ideally, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, allowing slightly longer exhalations than inhalations. Focus on feeling your chest expand and contract.


  • 3. After a couple of minutes, put the wooden pillow under the upper part of your back, parallel to your spine, with the rounded edge on the floor. Let one of the short edges rest near where your shoulders and neck meet. Let the ridges of the wooden pillow lie on the muscles on either side of your spine, away from the spine itself. Bring your hands and legs back to the original position.


  • 4. Continue to breathe in this posture, focusing on what you feel in your body. Scan down your body from head to toes. As you bring focus to each body part, relax that part, and imagine releasing its tension as you exhale through your mouth.


  • 5. After finishing your body scan, relax for several more minutes. Imagine your body is melting into the floor.


  • 6. Then remove the wooden pillow and continue to relax for a few more minutes. Now breathe with your mouth closed, and keep your mind on your lower abdomen to gather energy there.


  • 7. Finally, shake your arms and legs a bit before getting up.


To experience this and many other ways to use a wooden pillow for your health, check out our Wooden Pillow Kit.

You can also get the components separately: a wooden pillow and the book, Wooden Pillow Exercises for Stiff Neck, Shoulder Pain, Spinal Health, and Relaxation.
Written by Kris Washington-Carroll
Kris is a loving, creative soul with a deep personal healing story. Mindbody practices, energy work and meditation changed her life back in 2006, and today, she’s inspired to share these tools with as many people as possible to help them live happier, healthier lives. In addition to writing, teaching, and coaching, Kris is also a visual artist with a passion for using art to uplift, inspire, heal and transform.
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