Yoga for the Meridians: Heart/Small Intestine & Bladder/Kidney

hi folks… my post was a little late last week… and a little early this week… but i’m leaving town on thursday, and wanted to get this out before then.   here is the second installment of the meridian yoga series.  let me know if you have questions.  enjoy!

Heart Meridian:  11:00 AM – 1:00 PM // Small Intestine Meridian 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

this pair, arriving right in the ‘heart’ of the day,  deeply connects of our emotional life.  these two meridians work together by taking in and sorting out the ‘pure’ from the ‘impure’.  emotional manifestations include: confusion, anxiety, hysteria, and melancholy.  physical manifestations include:  tightness in the shoulders, headaches, extreme sweating, extreme thirst, cold arms/hands, issues around menopause, and insomnia.
Bladder Meridian 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM // Kidney Meridian 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

as anyone who regularly gets sleepy in the late afternoon can attest to, the bladder and kidney meridians rule the energy/vitality of the body.  it has been said that if you can balance the bladder meridian, you can balance the whole body – one reason, perhaps, that back massage feels so good for ones whole self.  emotional manifestations include:  fear, guardedness, and adaptability.  physical manifestations include:  inflexibility, neck/back/hip pain, headaches, infertility, epilepsy, diabetes, urinary problems, impotence, and edema (swelling).

Yoga for the Meridians: Lung/Large Intestine & Stomach/Spleen

for the next few weeks, i am going to begin to introduce some basic concepts of acupressure and give you a series of yoga postures that help to balance certain meridians (energy lines mapped out in traditional chinese medicine)  in the body.  these are taking from a workbook I created for a workshop that i teach on self acupressure.  if you have a regular yoga practice, you may recognize the names of the poses listed as good ones for each meridian pair.  if not, you can just try to one ‘featured’ posture for each grouping.   for more information about what meridians are and for symptoms that may indicate imbalance in specific meridians, see below.  
postures for the lung/large intestine and stomach/spleen meridians.

Lung Meridian: 3:00AM – 5:00AM  //  Large Intestine Meridian:  5:00AM – 7:00AM

much like the movement of the breath and the bowels, this meridian pair has much to with taking in and letting go. emotional manifestations include: major life changes, difficulty releasing emotion, holding grudges, and uncontrollable releases of emotion.  physical manifestations include:  difficulty in breathing, tightness in the chest, shoulder pain, sore throat, coughing, intestinal discomfort and skin outbreaks.

Stomach Meridian:  7:00AM-9:00AM  //  Spleen Meridian:  9:00AM – 11:00AM

this meridian pair is associated with how you digest the stuff of life.   connected to the earth element, these are the meridians that help ground and nourish you.  emotional manifestations include:  worry, sympathy, obsessions, and depression.  physical manifestations include:  menstrual disorders, indigestion, fatigue, acid reflux, and arthritis (specifically of the leg and knee).

there are twelve main meridians in the body mapped out in traditional chinese medicine. they are basically the route that energy moves in the body.  sometimes this energy (known as ‘qi’ or ‘chi’) gets blocked, causing symptoms of imbalance within us.  there are specific points along these lines that can be pressed (in acupressure) or needled (in acupuncture) to help release this blockage and gets things flowing again, akin to pouring draino down a clogged pipe.  the lines can also be stretched, though yoga postures, to help stimulate movement and clear blockages.

there are 12 meridians in all, each corresponding to an organ in the body.  it is said that is takes 24 hours for the qi to make it through the entire body.  it always follows the same path, every day,  showing up in specific meridians at specific times of the day.  so – it can be especially beneficial, but certainly not necessary for effecting change,  to do acupressure or yoga during the times that the qi is moving thru the meridian that you have identified as blocked.

each meridian is paired up with another one, and the two work together.   below i’m listing some possible emotional and physical manifestations that have been traditionally linked to the lung/large intestine and the stomach/spleen pairing.  in the next two weeks, i will add the last 4 pairs.  remember that these are huge concepts with an enormous amount of scholarship available.  this is simply a basic introduction.  also, there are some things listed, breathing practices and points, on the illustrated sheets that i’m not explaining further here.  i’m hoping to get to this later… so if there’s something your really want to know about now, feel free to comment or message me with that – or  any other questions.


Self-Massage Routine

i suspect, if everyone did this every day, i would lose all my massage clients.

… i just got a new printer and added my first scan.  i plan to include my original illustrations much more often now… stay tuned!

Seated Self-Massage Routine

Things to keep in mind while massaging:

*Stay relaxed – especially in the hands, arms, shoulders and face.
*Breathe deeply, in and out thru the nostrils.
*When seated, especially if your spine is rounding and/or your knees are higher than your hips, make sure you are well supported by sitting near the edge of a folded blanket or firm pillow.
*Shake out your hands and arms often between areas that you are massaging.
*Have fun — and go with what feels good!

FEET:  Bring your feet together and allow the knees to fall open away from one another (if needed, but some support underneath each knee.  Start by massaging soles of the feet, toes, and heels.

INNER LEGS: Then use the palms to move up thru the inner leg up to the upper thigh, skipping the area around the knee. (This can be done one leg at a time, with the foot on the floor, if that feels more relaxing.)

OUTER LEGS: Bring feet to the floor with knees bent.  Rub hands up and down the leg, from the hip down to the ankle. If comfortable, make hands in the relaxed fists and pound up and down the leg.  Maintaining the fists, rub vigorously right below the knee on the outside of the leg.

LOWER BACK: Bring feet back together (or take a cross-legged pose, if more relaxing for your body).  Take the fists and vigorously massage the kidney area in the lower back.

BELLY: Then bring your hand to your abdomen, and, starting on the right side near the hip, massage clockwise along the path of the large intestines (up to the rib cage, down towards the naval, back up to the opposite rib cage, and then down toward the left hip). Put palms over the naval, close the eyes and take a few deep breaths. You may want to lie on the your back with your knees bent to get deeper into the belly massage.

CHEST: Massage around the chest area, in between ribs, if comfortable. If you’re feeling sensitive here, do a very light, gentle massage with the palms or finger pads. If not sensitive, you might make fists and tap the whole chest area, Tarzan style.

SHOULDERS: Take one hand to the opposite shoulder and massage however it feels good, grabbing fleshy part of upper shoulder. Then take your open palm, hit the top of the shoulder (not on the bone) and brush down thru the arm all the way thru the hand, doing both front and back of arm. Repeat on the other side.

NECK: Interlock hands behind head, with the pinkie fingers at base of skull. As you inhale open elbows up, lift chest, and look up toward the ceiling. On your exhale, draw the belly in, bring elbows toward on another, press firmly on the sides neck and drop head. Repeat several times with your breath.

FACE: Massage along the jaw line, around the cheeks, and on the forehead. If desired, take open palms and gently slap along the sides of the face.

EARS/SCALP: Massage along the ears, pulling the bottom of the lobes down. Then massage whole scalp, pulling hair if it feels good.

this is a great routine to do in the morning or in the mid-afternoon, or whenever you might be feeling sluggish or tired.   if you are at your desk and can’t do the whole thing – just do the face/ears/scalp… and maybe the lower back – and i promise you’ll feel at least a little better!

**for extra fun, play the divinyls 90’s pop song in the background while trying this exercise.  😉

Frustrated? Shouldering Too Much?

Exercises for Releasing Frustration
Ever have one of those days?  These next qi exercises are helpful in both cleansing the liver and releasing the upper body tension that sometimes comes with frustration (and sometimes, just comes.)  In the first three exercises, it’s important to always keep a slight bend in the elbows to avoid hyper-extension, and only go as fast as feels comfortable for your body (particularly your shoulders).  These exercises are NOT appropriate if you have a dislocated shoulder or other joint instability in your shoulders.
“Swinging Arms, Twisting Spine”: Allow one arm to swing in front of the body, hitting at the opposite side of waist.  At the same time let the other arm swing behind the body, hitting the opposite side of waist, while twisting in that direction.  Swing back and forth in both directions, bending knees when in the center and standing upright while twisting around. Continue for 1-3 minutes.
“Giving Yourself a Hug”: Allow one arm to swing toward the opposite shoulder, letting the hand hit the top of the shoulder (GB 21), while the other arm swings and hits below the opposite armpit on the upper back or side of body. Continue for 1-3 minutes.
“Skiing Qi”:  Bend your knees and come forward bending your elbows and drawing them back like you’re skiing.  Then come up, draw your arms up and come into a little back bend — using momentum continue back and forth.  Continue for a 1-3 minutes.
“Shoulder Drop”: On an inhale thru your nose lift your shoulders as high as you can toward your ears, with clenched fists and arms close to the sides of the body.  If you can do so steadily, lift your heals up off the floor too.  Hold for a moment and then,  with a forceful exhale out thru the mouth, drop the shoulders and heals down and open your hands wide (still facing down).  Repeat several times.
“Punching Out”: In this group of exercises, it’s important to keep your eyes open wide (stimulating the liver) and knees slightly bent.  Punch out with each arm, first to the side, then out in front, then up toward the sky, and finally down towards the ground.  Each time you punch make the sound of “HA” loudly.  Go as quickly or slowly as you feel comfortable doing.  Repeat two or three times, taking a breath or two between each set.  I recommend, if possible,  doing this in a place where you feel comfortable being loud…. or, at the very least, with the door closed.  Your neighbors might be a little concerned, but at least you’ll feel less annoyed.  😉

Breathing for Digestion/Emotions

ADVASANA CHAKRA BREATHING

the following is a really great breathing exercise done lying on your belly

(in the ‘advasana’ yoga position), working with breathing into the second and

third chakras (energy centers). it’s great for digestion, of food and of life,

and to balance your emotional state. it can be practiced anytime – including

right after you’ve eaten (in fact, if you’ve over eaten, this is a great one

for helping your full belly work thru the food).

PRACTICE:

*lie on your belly with one cheek turned toward the floor

(you may want to put a towel or pillow between your head and the floor)

*place one hand under your lower belly - above the pubic bone, but below
the naval (this is the second chakra).  breathe deeply into your belly -
feel the belly expand and press your belly into your hand as you inhale.
feel the belly contract, drawing it away from the hand and in toward
the spine as you exhale.
*if you like, you can slide the other hand under the first (palm of one hand
and back of the other hand touching).  if that feels good, and you want more
pressure, make the top hand (the one making contact with the belly) into a fist.
*spend at least 1-3 minutes breathing into this area
*bring your hands out, and notice how you feel for a few breaths
*turn your head so the opposite cheek is on the mat, if comfortable.
*slide one hand under your solar plexus region (below the breast bone,
above the naval - this is the thrid chakra).  follow all the same
instructions you did while holding the lower point.
*when complete, stretch back into a child's pose (by pulling your hips
back toward your heels, extending your arms out and letting your head rest)
or, if more comfortable, turn on your back and hug your knees toward your
chest.

first.

greetings dear ones –

i’m excited to dive into my first attempt at blogging.  one might think, since i did study journalism in college, that i would have explored this medium before now, but i suppose i have been busy learning and teaching and playing.  now – time for sharing!

a little about myself – i am a yoga teacher, thai massage therapist, acupressurist, singer-songwriter, biker, chanter, dancer, punster… blogger!  i have lived in san francisco for the last 11 years (with a few little breaks living in indiana, vermont,  and colorado).    i don’t much like  to type with capital letters.

i have a website, http://www.vanessaverlee.com,  that has lots of information about my music and yoga/massage business.  you can go there to hear clips, see photos, check out class schedules, find out pricing etc.

but, you can come here to check out little jewels – “om”work if you will, to enhance (or jumpstart) a practice of exploring your relationship with your body, mind and spirit.  think of them as suggestions or assignments, whichever meets your needs.    i will draw from many  different sources – not just yogic.  i plan to include poses, breathing techniques, acupressure points, quotes, meditaiton practices, and more.  i hope to update this at least once a week – more often when i have time.

i encourage you to leave your feedback – and let me know if you’re finding these practices helpful.  stay in touch – with me and yourself!

namaste!

vanessa

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