No matter how healthy you are, at some point, you’ll have to deal with pain. Among all of the pain treatments available out there, one holistic treatment you can try on your own is Meridian Exercise. This type of exercise comes from Asian medicine and combines movement with breathing and concentration. It’s a moving meditation that opens the blocked energy channels in your body. Wherever you have pain, your energy is blocked there.
Depending on your pain’s location, there are different exercises you can do that target that area. There are also Meridian Exercises that affect your whole body. These exercises are so simple that almost anyone can do them, even if their health is poor.
Here are 5 of the most popular meridian exercises, which you can use for many types of pain, whether your head hurts, your neck, shoulders, back, hips, feet, or stomach.
This exercise can be done sitting or lying down, and is great to do before bed to help you sleep more quickly and soundly. It opens energy blockages in your whole body and helps to align your hips, back, and shoulders.
How to do it
Straighten your legs and put your heels and big toes together with your ankles flexed. Using your whole leg, bring your big toes farther apart until your little toes touch the ground (or as far as you can go) while keeping your heels together. Then reverse and bring your big toes back together. That’s one repetition. Do as many repetitions as you can until your pain and tension releases. Move your legs at a steady, quick pace while the rest of your body relaxes. When you exhale, do it through your mouth to release the blocked energy. Keep your focus on the feeling of your toes. This will help energy to circulate around your body.
Touch is an important component of Meridian Exercise, which includes acupressure, massage, and tapping. Patting and rubbing an area of your body that’s hurting short-circuits the pain signals going to your brain. It also warms and relaxes the area, which also helps relieve pain. In addition, tapping makes vibrations in the energy channels that chip away at the energy blockage underlying your pain.
How to do it
Relax your body and mind and focus on the area that’s in pain. Feel the pain without shying away from it and breathe it out through your mouth little by little. With your cupped hand, loose fist, or fingertips, tap on and around the painful area. Start gently and increase your force as the pain begins to lessen. Finish by gently rubbing the area clockwise with your palm. You can also tap your entire body, exhaling as you go. The looser your body and the more energy that easily flows through it, the better.
Energy often gets stuck in your joints, which can easily become stiff. Gently rotating them loosens your joints and helps to relieve their pain.
How to do it
Always focusing on the joints you’re moving and always exhaling through your mouth, rotate the joints where you have pain, whether you feel it in your wrists, ankles, waist, hips, neck, etc. Rotate approximately the same amount of times in each direction (clockwise and counterclockwise). Keep going until you feel the pain release.
Sleeping tiger posture
Sleeping tiger is a great beginner posture that you hold for extended periods of time. The angles of the body you make in this posture strongly push energy through your energy channels and gather it in your core in your lower abdomen. This posture is especially good for head, neck, shoulder, lower back, hip, and knee pain. It also warms your body; afterward you can feel deeply relaxed yet refreshed.
How to do it
Lie on your back and raise your legs and arms in the air. Bend your hips, knees, and ankles until they make a right angle. Flex your wrists to ninety degrees as well, but keep your elbows straight yet loose. Make sure your wrists are directly above your shoulders and your knees are directly above your hip joints. Keep your feet parallel with your knees. Try to put your lower back as close to the ground as you can. Don’t worry if your lower back cannot touch the ground; it will gradually loosen if you hold the posture for while, and you may be able to do it later. While you’re in the posture, focus your mind inside the center of your lower abdomen, about two inches below your navel. If your mind wanders, just as in meditation, bring it back to focusing on that spot. As always, exhale through your mouth. Work up to holding Sleeping tiger posture for half an hour, or at least until the pain you’re feeling goes away.
Your abdomen contains the core energy center in your body plus many important organs. It’s important to keep your energy warm and flowing there too, and this will affect pain in your entire body, but especially pain in your digestive tract. Intestine exercise can be combined with Belly Button Healing, where you press your belly button in and out at various angles, for added power.
How to do it
Intestine exercise can be performed simply sitting, standing, or lying down, or in a variety of specific postures. Check out the book Belly Button Healing by Ilchi Lee for several postures you can try. For most postures, place both palms on your abdomen so that the tips of your thumbs meet at your navel and the tips of your index fingers meet below, forming a triangle with your hands. Unless the posture indicates otherwise, try to keep your back and neck as straight as you can. Press in toward your back with your lower abdominal muscles and then push them outward. That is one repetition. Try to do one hundred or more repetitions if you can. Focus on the sensations in your abdomen and exhale through your mouth as you do each one. Breathe comfortably and naturally; you don’t have to match your breathing with the movement of your abdomen, although you could. If you feel sharp pain in your intestines, you can do the exercise more gently or simply rub the area and/or press into it gently. You can do intestine exercises throughout your day—while you’re working at a desk, watching TV, brushing your teeth, or lying in bed before you fall asleep. This exercise has a mountain of beneficial effects and is important for your overall well-being, in addition to relieving pain.
These Meridian Exercises and more can be found in Meridian Exercise for Self-Healing by Ilchi Lee. Each is described step-by-step with colored photographs like the ones above, and are organized by parts of the body and common illnesses that affect them.