Unfolding on the Mat
Expanded Content and Thoughtful Guidance
These days, yoga can be (and is!) combined with just about anything: creative writing, dance, music, acrobatics, kung fu, tai chi, art, and even beer! I think my favorite, though I’ve never participated, is yoga and goats. Yes, goats. So I must say I wasn’t surprised when I heard of yoga and cupping, but I was certainly surprised at how effective it is!
Cupping isn’t new. It’s ancient. It goes back to ancient Chinese, Egyptian, and Middle Eastern traditions of healing. Today it is considered an alternative medicine used for muscular aches and pains, increased blood flow, detoxification, and excess fluid drainage. It has gained popularity recently due to Olympic athletes, such as Michael Phelps, showing up with the tell-tale cupping circles on their bodies. More information on cupping can be found at the Cupping Resource website.
Recently I was treated to a cupping massage with Cindy Anderson at the Yoga Yoga Westlake Spa. After giving me a little background knowledge of the process and a demonstration of the silicon cups, Cindy got to work on my back, shoulders, legs, and chest.
I hate to admit it, but I don’t often treat myself to massage. I have always enjoyed the process, but like so many of us I don’t set aside the time. This experience rejuvenated my interest in having regular massage as part of my health routine. The cupping was fantastic.
As the cup was placed on a muscle group, it gently created a suction which lifted skin and soft tissue into the cup, drawing blood and fluid towards the surface. Then, as Cindy moved the cups in a zig zag across one area, it felt like she was massaging me from the inside as well as the outside. I imagined muscle and connective tissue being smoothed out from underneath. When she placed two cups on opposing points and moved one cup, it created a lengthening sensation. None of this was painful to me at all, though I have heard of it getting quite intense for some.
Perhaps the best part was the lasting effects. Once I got in my car and drove away, I realized how easy it was to turn my head side to side. Any tension I had before the massage had melted away. Delicious.
So where does the yoga come in? Yupping. Yoga + Cups, of course! As I went through various yoga postures I like to use for detox yoga, I placed the cups on certain points to help create that same sense of inner lengthening as in my cupping massage. Forward folds with cups on the low back: ahhhhh. Seated postures while cups draw on the facia on the soles of my feet: wow. It goes on.
Seasonal changes are a great time to detoxify your system. Summer heat has accumulated in the body, and detox yoga is an effective way to let it go. The detox yoga postures and sequences are designed to squeeze and wring out organs of digestion and elimination, as well as improve circulation to move blood and lymph through the body. It’s like your internal body takes out the trash and cleans the house! With the addition of cups, more of that trash can be drawn from muscles and tissues and taken away by the lymph. Think baseboards, tile grout, ceiling fans, nooks and crannies, to continue the metaphor.
On September 24, Cindy and I are collaborating on a yoga and cupping event at Yoga Yoga called Radiant Everyday: Cupping and Seasonal Detox Yoga. Participants will receive their own set of high quality cups and learn how to massage themselves with this technique. I will guide the group in a detoxifying yoga class, including cup placement ideas and enhancing stretches. It is sure to be fun, informative, and effective. I hope you can join us!
Jessica lives, has a family, and teaches yoga in Austin, Texas.