What follows are my favorite go-to acupuncture points. I’ve chosen them because they are safe, effective, and deeply soothing. These acupuncture points also share a common effect: in their ability to calm and soothe the nervous system, they are ideal counterweights to the prevailing fast-paced energy that most of us live and breathe in daily life. The only caution is with pregnancy: no points on the feet should ever be used on pregnant women.
Pericardium 6 has the benefit of being both safe across the board (even for pregnant women), easy to locate, and ultra calming. Gently fold your wrist to find the crease on the palm side. Place three fingers as shown in the photo above. Pericardium 6 is just beyond where your three fingers land (about where a fourth finger would be) on the pinky finger side of the most prominent tendon. When feeling for acupressure points, close your eyes and let your fingers seek out the subtle divot. In Japan, these points are described as little holes, the word is tsubos. There may be more sensation and perhaps a faint achy-ness when you land on the right spot. Allow yourself to be guided primarily by body sensation and touch rather than words and photos. Aside from its ability to sooth and calm, P6 also opens the chest, a useful step in getting it off the chest. This is the point used for nausea and sea-sickness, the place those drug-store bracelets for women with morning sickness are activating.
Lu 7, when with a paired point on the foot, Kidney 6, removes excess wind and opens the Ren or Conception Vessel (CV) channel that runs up the front center of the body. The lungs, and our breath, are our first point of contact with the outside world. The lungs metaphorically help us cope with grief and breathe through challenging life experiences. When I sit long enough with anger I often access the a deeper reality of feeling hurt and wounded. In moments of clear seeing, I witness my preference: managing anger leaves me feeling in control. Sometimes I’d rather rage than sink into the long slow wave of grief. But hurting is a necessary and often valuable part of life.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, if we don’t cope with sadness at the level of the lungs, these emotions burrow deeper: moving onward to the large intestine and from there becoming ever more chronic on their path through the meridians. I think of Lu 7 as an entry point that grows our capacity to hold the truth of difficult life experiences with courage and valor.
To find Lu 7, hook the hands as shown in the photo. The place where your index finger lands on the thumb side of the bone is Lu 7. As with Pericardium 6, close your eyes and feel for the little tsubos. There is a subtle indentation in the blade of the radius that holds the point.
The photo above shows the first three points of the Liver meridian (the dot on the big toe marks Liver 1). Emotionally, according to TCM, the liver is understood to hold or manage anger and fiery outbursts; so these points are ideal when working through challenging situations.
Liver 2 is a fire point, useful for when you feel like you’re about to blow up on someone else- when your anger is directed outward. Use Liver 3, a qi stagnation point, at times when you are holding a lot of undirected, bottled up anger internally. In both cases, an excess of anger can be eased by gently teasing or coaxing the energy from Liver 3 toward the big toe, the opening and beginning of the channel. The photo shows the three points… look for the achy sensation in the tendons between the big and second toes to find Liver 2 and 3. Liver 1 is at the lateral corner of the big toe as pictured.
If you already teach yoga, I recommend working with these acupressure points at home for about six months before you begin to incorporate them into your yoga classes. This way you’ll have a pretty solid understanding of the subtle nuances of each point, and you’ll be able to teach from personal experience, which is always the most powerful way of transmitting information.
My gratitude to Pavones Yoga Center graduate Amber Scriven who worked with me to develop this series of safe and effective acupuncture points for use in the context of yin yoga classes. This post is part of a series of articles about managing challenging emotions. For more in this series: