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Meridian Activation explained (+ 15 min daily practice)

In my first article, I introduced the concept of meridians through the lens of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and touched briefly on how we use this knowledge in our Meridian Yoga practice. This time I want to break down the beginning part of the MYT sequence, namely the meridian activation: why we practice it and the different techniques we use, which you can practice daily for optimal Qi circulation and general well-being. For a guided practice, you can follow along this IGTV I made for that purpose.

Firstly, why is it called meridian activation?

This sequence of techniques is an effective way to stimulate all meridians and the circulation of qi and blood. It can be divided into two parts: in the first one we tap, slap, rub and pound along the three longest meridians (Stomach, Gallbladder, Bladder), starting from the feet, moving up to the face and reversing our way back down. Depending on the location, the vigor of the slapping and pounding will vary: we slap and pound firmly on large muscle areas while gently tapping on the extremities and face. If you know anything about the benefits of shaking or tapping therapy, the slapping technique works on the same principle: it increases blood circulation, stimulates the nervous and lymphatic system and helps release stored emotions in the body. For that reason, we do this at the beginning of a class as a kind of warm up. I get the same kind of tingling in my whole body as when I’m foam rolling, which indicates increased circulation in muscle and connective tissues. From a TCM perspective, it disperses Qi into the entire meridian, while also bringing awareness from our extremities to our organs, which we tend to pay little attention to.

It can look a bit silly to be slapping yourself, but it feels surprisingly good. Sometimes we take ourselves and our yoga practice too seriously, and this is both a playful and healing technique that anyone can easily practice.

The second part is the meridian stretches. This time we stretch the same three meridians by interlacing our fingers with the arms above the head and bending sideways, backwards and forward (Ardha Chandrasana/half-moon sequence from the Gosh tradition). Unsurprisingly, this series, considered as a compete spinal warm up, stretches the three same meridians: the stomach meridian on the front body, the gallbladder meridian on the sides of the body, and the bladder meridian on the back body, all from feet to head.

Finally, we proceed to stretching the arm meridians. You may get a distinct feeling holding these stretches: they look unimpressive, but they create a lot of heat and sensation! If you’ve heard of or practiced neural flossing, most of these stretches do stimulate the neural pathways in that same way. As explained in the previous post, meridians, the energetic pathways, are connected to and follow some of the neural pathways.

In these stretches, we reach the arms out, with a different hand configuration each time (palms up, forward, outward), and point out especially through one finger, where the meridians start and end. They are a great way to start feeling the meridians in your body and to learn how to breathe and keep your nervous system in control while having an intense physical sensation.

I hope you give it a try and feel the benefits of it!

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