Water Up, Fire Down is a core Dahn Yoga health principle. According to this tradition, our bodies can achieve optimal health when cool water energy flows toward the head and warm fire energy is sent to the abdomen.
Here we discuss the first part, Fire Down, and what yoga poses help you activate and manage this aspect of energy circulation.
Dahn Yoga focuses on core body strengthening, drawing heat and energy to the lower abdomen (called the Dahn jon in Korean and dan tien in Chinese). In Eastern medicine this is considered the most important part of the body.
The purpose of each pose is to act upon and stimulate the meridians, the network of pathways along which energy, or qi, flows in our body. You can often gain more effect at the end of a meridian than at the point of imbalance. If you have tight hips, for example, shifting your focus to the pinky finger during a side stretch will redirect energy to the hip, helping it to loosen and realign.
Just as Hatha yoga incorporates pranyama (restraining the breath) with each asana sequence, we apply Jung Choong breathing to the floor sequence. Jung Choong is one of Dahn Yoga’s signature exercises. It is a strength building exercise where the body is held in static positions and is designed to build and cultivate fire in the lower abdomen.
With Jung Choong breathing, the muscles of the lower abdomen and lower back are strengthened by resistance to the floor and elevation of the arms or legs. This resistance naturally encourages deep abdominal breathing, which is excellent for managing fire energy.
5 Poses to Balance Your Fire Energy
Similar to Sivasana, with this relaxation pose we tell people to focus on their lower abdomen, especially beginners, by bringing their hands over their Dahn-jon, helping them to not only focus their energy in that area, but to keep it contained, which comes in handy later in the sequence.
2. Sleeping Tiger
Feet raised parallel with knees bent at 90 degress, about 3 inches apart supports the lower back. This is a posture of accumulation. Raising the legs puts pressure on the lower back and lower abdomen that releases fire energy. We recommend that beginners keep their hands on their lower abdomen throughout this pose to keep the fire energies concentrated and contained as the energy builds.
People struggle most when the fire moves from their head down to their Dahn-jon because it affects their thoughts. Also, if you have weakness in your lower back and/or lower abdomen, your legs and knees will feel heavy, in this first part of the sequence!
An added benefit as far as ‘water’ circulation is, it puts natural pressure on the meridian points behind your kidneys, releasing cooling water energy.
Conceptually, a volcano would be the symbolic opposite of Water Up, Fire Down. When fire is unbalanced, things tend to erupt and the wrong energies flow in opposite directions, to parts of the body where they do more harm than good.
3. Circulation 1
Similar to half plough pose, this pose opens the meridian in the back of the legs, especially behind the knees. This is very helpful for clearing bladder meridian blockages and releasing any vestiges of frie energy in your arms, hands, legs and feet.
4. Circulation 2
This pose resembles Halasana, or plough pose, and opens up and acts upon the Dae-chu and the meridians that run along the front and back of the torso. The purpose of this pose is to move pressure from the lower back to the center of the back, releasing fire from the upper body.
Before moving on to Pose V, Poses II and III are repeated. Because the focus on the abdomen in Pose 2 has already accumulated fire energy, people find it easier to move through these poses the second time around. For ‘fire management,’Pose II is the most important for moving fire from other parts of the body where it doesn’t belong.
Lying on floor, legs in lotus position, this crossed legs posture allows you to deeply relax your back and hips and torso without releasing all the good energy you’ve just accumulated.
Repeat this sequence several times for releasing tension from your lower back, and regaining a calmer mind and clear thinking. You’ll like the way you see the world!