To help prevent chronic tension from building up in mind and body, take time each day for yourself to relax and stretch. Practice the following meridian stretch to balance and stimulate your qi.* Begin with a simple relaxing body scan, lying down, or in a seated position. Starting at head or feet, briefly tense each part of your body in turn; hold, then breathe out and release, allowing all the tension to flow out of you. When you feel completely relaxed, get up and do this stretch for stomach and spleen meridians.
NB Do not stretch just after a heavy meal. This will interfere with qi circulation needed for digesting food. Stretch before eating, or wait a couple of hours after eating.
Kneel down on the floor and sit on your buttocks between your feet, knees open. If this is uncomfortable, place a small cushion between your buttocks and the floor. Slowly and gently lean backwards until you can place your hands on the floor behind you. Stay here a few seconds and relax, feeling a stretch in your stomach area. If possible, lean back further and place your elbows and forearms on the floor. Breathe in and relax your whole body, stretching your stomach and spleen meridians down the front of your body and legs. Inhale and exhale three times before releasing and relaxing completely.
Note: If you are very flexible, you may be able to take the stretch to its maximum by resting your shoulders and upper back on the floor. From this position you can extend your arms over your head.
Do not overstretch. Pain is not ok. Always listen to your body and adapt to its signals, not your mind’s.
*see November’s blog for a kidney and bladder meridian stretch
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