What are meridians and why are they important?
The meridian system was developed within the framework of Traditional Chinese Medicine as a way to connect the mind, emotions and spirit to our experience of the physical body. The concentration of a particular energy or quality was found to run according to specific lines across the body. With our modern medical research of anatomy and physiology it is fascinating to see how the meridians connect with the fascia, linking connective tissue to internal organs and further drawing on embryological ‘lines of development’ in the body. When applying touch to acupressure points along a meridian line or doing a meridian stretch the particular quality of Ki (or energy) gets stimulated and known to the person. Sometimes it is difficult to connect with a particular meridian and sometimes a meridian is very ‘active’ and painful to touch. This presents a diagnostic picture of what areas of the person needs more attention and support and what areas need to have its energy dispersed and calmed down. This informs the Shiatsu treatment, and equally helps a person know what meridians to attend to.
Easy to follow stretching guide to help digestion
The meridians all run in clearly defined lines across the body that are easier to access in specific stretch positions. By doing these stretches one stimulates the energy of that particular meridian and learn about its mental, emotional and spiritual associations in addition to the physical sensations of the muscles and fascia stretching. Many people today have problems with their digestion as stress activates their adrenaline leading to an ongoing fight or flight state of being. In this state the blood flow to the digestive, urinary and reproductive systems, one that are less essential for survival, is reduced and they don’t function as well. Here is a simple stretch guide containing three stretching poses for helping the Stomach and Spleen meridians become activated. They help to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and counter the stress response of the body, bringing more energy and attention to our digestion:
- Begin by standing. Bring your weight to your left leg and gently lift your right foot grabbing hold of it with your right hand at the back. As you push your right knee back raise your left arm into the air and bend forward slightly reaching out. Feel the stretch between your right knee and tip of fingers on your left hand across your torso. Stay here for 3-5 deep breaths. Return to standing on both feet and repeat on the other side.
- Kneel on the floor with your legs wide enough apart to be able to sit in between your knees making contact with the ground. Use a cushion to sit on if this is too painful for your knees. On the exhalation bend backwards and either lean on your elbows or come all the way down with your back resting on the ground and arms reaching out behind you. Feel the stretch on the top of your thighs and along the torso into the arms and fingers. Stay for a few deep breaths before coming up gently.
- Lie on your stomach facing downwards. Bend your right arm and let your left shin rest on top of the right hand. As you breathe in lift your right arm up with the head simultaneously as you lift your left leg up stretching it backwards. On exhalation return back down. Repeat three times and then change side.