The Yoseido- Shiatsu Meridians Stretching Exercises

Yoseido- is a word with 3 characters.

Yo-means nourishing, feeding or making something grow.
Sei-means birth-the physiological aspect of a person's existence or simply 'life form'.
Do-means the way. or attaining one's ideal place or spiritual contentment.

The combination of the three words together mean: harmonizing one's existing life-form by following the way ( the encounter between Heaven and Earth).

In a certain sense all the traditional oriental disciplines are based upon this attainment of Do Yoseido. How can we achieve this harmonious life form? One way is through the meridians stretching exercises as Yoseido Shiastu emphasizes.

Practicing the stretching postures for the eight meridians encourages full health and a lively balance of the energies in our body. They can be used to treat physical ailments by reactivating the flow of vital energy through the body.

They also have a role to play in preventive treatment by ensuring that blocked energy is dislodged, protecting the body from imbalances and stagnation. The exercises are especially beneficial to those with sleeping problems, those with cold hands or feet and those suffering from stress or fatigue. If the exercises are being used for maintenance rather than for specific treatment, then they should be taken in their proper sequence.

The most important posture is for the governing vessel. It is easy to do, and one can quickly experience the effects. If you are not used to exercise and have a very stiff body, start with this exercise alone. It is advisable to do these exercises every morning as well as every evening before going to bed. The spirit of concentration is important. Morning exercise allow us to draw on the rising energy of nature, while evening exercise provides an opportunity to rid our bodies of the tiredness and bad or used energy accumulated during the course of the day.

The exercises should not be done after a meal, an operation, or with a fever. some of the eight meridian exercises can be difficult even for the young and supple. But perfection is not important, since each individual is different. The essential thing is that the muscles are relaxed before any attempt is made to stretch them so  that the meridian postures can be done without straining the body. If any feeling of discomfort occurs, then stop and continue with another exercise.

Where a blocked meridian is found, spend more time working on that meridian ensuring that each breath is slow and steady. If there is not enough time for all eight meridians, then concentrate on the two main meridians, the governing vessel and the conception vessel.

While exercising, it is important to remember that the stretch is made with an inhalation, and that one breaths out slowly after the maximum extension. Breathing out is a vital part of these exercises, because unless we are able to exhale in an even and relaxed way, the next inhalation becomes tight, and then instead of letting the energy flow smoothly into the meridians, we tend to halt the flow of this energy with tense and stumbling breathing. Of course one must not forget someone who is not well and lacks energy will have and entirely different approach to the stretching exercises than someone who is healthy. Either way, it is best to start with the governing vessel and the conception vessel ad then go on to the other meridians.

Fortunately each meridian has an important point, which regulates the entire flow of the meridian. so we can start off by pressing these eight points. The regular point for each of the meridians is as follows:
  • Governing vessel: small intestine point         -"Gokei"
  • Conception vessel: lung point                        -"Reketsu"
  • Yang ankle vessel: bladder point                   -"Shinmiyaku"
  • Yin ankle vessel : kidney point                      -"Shiyokai"
  • Belt vessel : Kidney point                              -"Rinkuyu"
  • Throguh-going vessel: spleen-pancreases point-"Koson"
  • Yang linking vessel: spleen-pancreas point   -"Gaikan"
  • Yin linking vessel : heart constrictor point- "Naikan"
All these points are located near the ankle or close to the wrist- parts of the body which are always in motion and areas where lots of ligaments and tendons are concentrated.

We could say that we walk, jump or run fast because we have solid, strong and supple ankles. Without this movement in the ankle we would be slow ans awkward. Our body is constructed to move around using full movement of the muscles in our legs and arms. When we use these muscles with the help of joints( knee, ankle, elbow, and wrist) we circulate the energy of our internal organs. Arm movements enhance the circulation of lungs and heart, and the movement of legs can activate internal organs such as the small and large intestines.

As we grow old the upper part of our body starts to degenerate first. This manifests itself in grey hair, loss of hair, loss of memory, wrinkles on the face, and weakening of the teeth. In the end we can become immobile because the leg muscles have no strength to hold us straight and let us move. When we become bed ridden, our internal organs start to stagnate, and stop functioning. As long as we can walk, we can keep  the organs intact and sustain  the minimum vitality of life force.

In Chine, many elderly people practice the Rai Chi Chuan in public spaces, which keeps them healthy by circulating energy through the entire body. People who are physically disabled or have a rigid constitution can also use the regulating points of the eight meridians.

Before they start doing the stretching exercises they need to prepare and loosen the body by applying pressure to those points. Those lacking the energy to do this by themselves, should ask someone else for assistance.

It is important to acquire the habit of pressing the regulating points daily so that as time goes by one starts to feel more relaxed and notices the benefits of stretching the body. As we know, if the muscles are not regularly stretched and exercised they tighten up, eventually becoming impossible to move. In the case of a broken anklebone plaster is applied to hole the ankle tight during the mending of the fracture. But if these points are pressed right after the accident the healing power can be accelerated.

There is no fixed order for these postures. One can start anywhere. But to strengthen the immune system it is particularly advisable to follow the order given below.

1.  Governing Vessel Exercise
  • Lying on your back, take hold of the soles of your feet, as illustrated and gently rock on your back, letting your spine roll against the floor.
  • It is important to keep your neck soft and long, and not let your chin stick out. All the effort comes from the lower abdomen.
  • The movement can start from the coccyx and go up to the first dorsal, avoiding the cervicals of the neck because they are much more delicate.
  • Breathe normally during this exercise.

2. Conception vessel exercise
  • Lie on your stomach and take hold of your feet, rolling forwards and backwards gently on your stomach, rocking along the centre and breathing normally.
  • If you can't reach your feet with your hands, then imagine you are holding them.
  • The aim of the exercise is not to attain perfect position, but to visualize the posture and follow its possibilities for movement.
  • Women should avoid this exercise during a menstrual period, and those with back troubles should not do it until they feeling better. It does pull on the back.

3. Yang Ankel Vessel Exercise
  • Hold the big toe with the thumb and first fingers of the corresponding hand.
  • Life one leg and stretch it towards the outside, and follow it with your eyes, keeping the other leg firmly one the ground.
  • Inhale as you lengthen you leg and exhale as you return you leg to the center.
  • Then repeat with the other leg

4. Yin Ankle Vessel Exercise
  • sit in the Seiza position, as shown, with one leg bent back and close to your body, along the thigh.
  • Take hold of the other foot with both hands and lift it up, keeping the leg straight.
  • Inhale as you draw it towards your chest.
  • Repeat five or six times and then do the same with the other leg.

5. Through Going Vessel Exercise
  • Sitting, place one foot on the thigh of the other leg, and stretch forward to hold the other, extended foot with both hands.
  • With an inhalation, and the back held straight draw your body close to the extended foot.
  • Repeat this exercise five or six times on both legs.
6. Belt Vessel Exercise
  • Sit with your legs wide, and place one hand on your hip and the other fairly high along your ribcage.
  • With an inhalation lean towards the side where you are holding the hip.
  • Repeat the exercise five or six times on each side, and then hold your hands on both hips and make circles with your body from the base of your spine, thirty time in each direction.
7. Yang Linking Vessel Exercise
  • Open your legs as wide as you can.
  • Place your hands on the floor in front of you.
  • Slide your hands slowly forward and with a straight back, let your body go forward. inhale as you go towards the floor.
  • You should stop when you feel it interferes with your breathing.
8. Yin Linking Vessel Exercise
  • Sitting, fold your foot onto the top of the left thigh, holding the foot in place with your right hand stretched across your back.
  • Reach forward, keeping the spine straight, and with your left hand take hold of your left foot with your thumb and fingers.
  • This exercises is quite difficult but what is important is that you feel as much movements of energy as you can, as you do this.
  • If you are very stiff, don't be discouraged, but breathe gently and rhythmically and do what you can.
  • Let you imagination recreate the movement, and your body will follow.
  • Repeat five or six time for each side.
This is the basic information about Yoseido- Shiastu Meridians Stretching Exercises.


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