MAKKO HO – Zen Shiatsu meridian opening for Spring

Makko Ho or yoga? Traditionally, Spring yoga involves twists for the Liver and lateral bends for the Gall Bladder. Depending on how they are taught, they can feel like an endurance test – specially designed to try your patience! Patience (or lack thereof) is, of course, strongly associated with the green woody season. MASUNAGA’S MAKKO HO, by contrast, are very gentle and work with your awareness and sensitivity in order to open & tonify the meridians – as distinct from stretch & strengthen –and facilitate the movement of KI. Exploration of these exercises is all about unforced breathing, relaxation and focusing on how you feel & how things might be changing (physically, mentally, emotionally) as you explore.

Start sitting upright with the legs astride & feet pointing up – the legs should be active but not rigid*. Bring your arms up above your head with palms facing (either apart or with hands linked). Remember to softly inhale before you move and exhale with the movement. This will help you to avoid forcing.

For the GALL BLADDER, reach up & out (laterally) over one of the outstretched legs – keeping both buttocks on the floor. Hold the position as you inhale then use the exhalation to settle further into it – do this three (3) times. Inhale slowly back to upright to repeat on the other side.

Before you repeat the whole exercise (X3) consider the experience you’ve just had. If you felt good, take more time as you as you repeat and really relax into it. If you felt not so good, breathe & move more quickly – still without straining – through the repetitions and allow the stuck KI to release and flow.

For the LIVER, bring your arms down parallel with the floor with the palms facing away from you to rotate the shoulder joint and stimulate your ring fingers. On exhalation, moving from the hips, tilt your upper body forward. Try to keep your spine/neck aligned & long and your buttocks on the floor as you move through the breathing, relaxing, consideration & repetition sequence.

[* For a less intense GB experience, try (1) folding one arm across your abdomen to give a bit of support &/or (2) bending one leg, foot to groin, to ease your outreach over the other leg.]

Would you like to know more? Find out about other Makko Ho exercises or HERE to get some tips on classical yoga for Spring.

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