The Mighty Kidneys
Spring is in the air, ushering in more daylight, burgeoning bulbs, and effervescent birdsong. To many of us, it also means spring cleaning. For some that can be washing the windows and organizing the closet; for others it inspires a desire to detoxify our bodies. Your body has an ingenious system of detoxification built right in and your kidneys are its cornerstone. Good kidney function leads to increased energy, good quality sleep, improved digestion, reduced back pain, improved core integration, effortless posture, and better moods. How can we support these small but mighty organs and reap the many rewards?
Where are the kidneys?
Your kidneys are bean shaped organs that are situated near the back of the body, peeking out from underneath the bottom of the rib cage. You have one on either side of your spine, with the right one slightly lower than the left. They are each about the size of a fist and they weigh in at 120-150 g – about the weight of a billiard ball. Due to their location near the back of your waist, they can have a strong influence on how your back moves and feels. What we experience as back pain can occasionally be caused by your kidneys.
They are surrounded by a thick protective layer of fat that cushions and protects the kidneys, regulates their temperature, and maintains their position in the body. The importance of this fat can’t be understated. Without it, the kidneys would sink downwards too far in the body, creating a kink in the ureter and blocking the flow of urine. Maintaining the kidney’s position in the body is so crucial that your body retains this fat even if you are starving.
What do the kidneys do?
Your kidneys are your most important organ of detoxification and elimination. They perform the vital task of filtering your blood before it returns to your heart. They filter all of the blood in your body every 36 minutes on average! The kidneys do this every day for your entire lifespan, with no breaks and no need to manually “clean the filters” so to speak. There is no comparison in the industrial world for such an efficient, effective, and long-lasting filtration system.
As your kidneys filter your blood, they extract any waste products and harmful substances and combine them with excess water to produce urine. The urine then travels down the ureters (the tubes connecting each kidney with your bladder), to be eliminated from the body. By conserving what your body needs and getting rid of what it doesn’t, the kidneys create homeostasis, the process by which your body maintains optimal levels of water, salts, and minerals in your blood.
Franklin Method Imagery for Kidneys
The Franklin Method is a practical, experiential system designed by Eric Franklin that uses cutting edge exercise, motivation, and dynamic imagery to create lasting positive change in your body and mind. Harnessing the brain’s innate adaptability, it pairs mental imagery tools with embodied anatomy to improve your experience in your body. It is uniquely suited to working with the organs as it has been shown to influence the autonomic nervous system, the part of your nervous system that controls the organs. Try the short Franklin Method experience below and see what you notice.
Begin by rubbing your hands together vigorously for 10 seconds or so. Hold your hands a few centimetres apart and feel the energy you have generated buzzing between them.
Energize your Kidneys:
Use your hands to sandwich the bottom of your right ribs, one in front and one in back. Sense the energy between your hands flowing into your body and energizing your right kidney. Repeat this process on the left side: generate energy by rubbing your hands together, sandwich the left side of the ribs at the bottom, and send energy into the left kidney.
Image each kidney wrapped up in a cozy down comforter, keeping it warm and cushioning it from forces as they are transmitted through the body. Or, try imaging your kidneys enveloped in a life preserver that keeps them afloat and buoyant inside your body.
Move Your Kidneys:
With your hands on the back and bottom of the rib cage, glide your kidneys forward and back in space several times. This will result in your spine arching and curling alternately.
Then try sliding your right kidney up and your left kidney down. This will cause the spine to side bend to the left. Repeat that action in the other direction (left kidney up, right kidney down). Alternate sides several times.
Next, rotate the spine while imagining the kidneys swinging freely around it – right kidney back, left kidney forward, then reverse.
Lastly, try circumducting the kidneys. Move your ribs around in a circle several times to each side, leaving your pelvis still. Image the kidneys circling smoothly and effortlessly, with no friction.
Stand with your arms relaxed by your side and breathe slowly. Take stock of how your body is feeling. Is your lower back relaxed? Your body grounded? Your mood calm? Your breath fluid and easy? Try a few movements with your torso and limbs – does moving feel more effortless?
Imagine your kidneys to be the perfect filters both physically and emotionally. They are constantly creating harmony in your fluids, electrolytes, blood pressure, and mood, while siphoning out any harmful substances and feelings.
Shower your kidneys with love and gratitude for the essential job they do. Say out loud “My kidneys are functioning perfectly, eliminating toxins while creating balance and harmony in my body.”
Want to Learn More?
Intrigued? Moving Spirit will be hosting Franklin Method Educator Allison Birt and Medical Herbalist Bev Maya on April 26, 2020 from 10:30-12:00 for a morning of sensory herb tastings and imagery-in-motion focused on supporting your liver and kidneys as they rid your body of harmful substances. Revitalize your energy, rejuvenate your immune system, and restore balance and well-being with this multifaceted approach to detoxification. Stay tuned for more information as to whether this will be an in-person or online event, as social distancing protocols require.
About Allison Birt
After a series of injuries prompted her to re-consider a career in dance, Allison transformed her passion for movement as art into a passion for movement as medicine. In 2001 she began learning to teach Pilates from Dianne Miller, teaching at the Vancouver Pilates Centre until 2016. A perennial student, Allison has learned from and studied the repertoire of multiple first-generation Pilates teachers including Ron Fletcher, Kathleen Stanford Grant, and Mary Bowen. Allison is also a Level 3 Franklin Method Educator, adept at applying mental imagery techniques to embodied anatomy to create lasting positive change in the mind and body. She loves to collaborate with students to help them discover movement resolutions that will maximize their physical potential so that they can move through their lives with as much ease and joy as possible.
If you enjoyed this article, also see Allison’s piece on The True Core.