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  • Meridian Stretches for the Back of the Arm and Neck

    lung meridian, percicardium meridian, hearth meridian

    The following meridian stretches are for the large intestine, triple heater and small intestine meridians which all run up the back of each arm and up the neck.

    If you stand with your arms by your sides and your palms facing forwards, the, small intestine, triple heater and large intestine meridians all run up the back of your arm in three parallel lines.

    They also then run up your neck to the sides of your face.

    • The large intestine meridian (colored white in the picture) runs up the thumb side of the back of each arm. When it reaches the face it crosses between the nose and upper lip to the opposite side of your body.
    • The small intestine meridian (red) runs up the little finger side of the back of the arm. At the face it runs towards the bottom of the outer corner of the eye and then runs towards the front of the ear.
    • The triple heater meridian (black) runs up the middle of the back of the arm. It runs up the side of the head behind the ear and ends at the outer corner of the eyebrow.

    To stretch these meridians and the hand and wrist, bend the wrists forwards and curl your fingers. To stretch these meridians at the elbow, bend the elbow completely. To stretch them at the back of the shoulder you can reach your arms forwards and spread your shoulder blades or you can reach one arm at a time across your body. You can also try internally rotating the arm at the shoulder.

    To stretch these meridians at the neck you can turn the neck and bend it to either side.

    Wrist Stretches for the Back of the Wrists

    The following meridian stretches are for the back of the wrists. While kneeling, place the back of your hands on the floor with your fingers pointing back. Use your legs to help lift your ribcage up to take some of the pressure off of your wrists. Slowly lean your body back to stretch the back of your wrists. You can do this exercise one hand at a time or you can stretch the wrists of both hands at the same time.

    wrist stretchwrist stretchwrist stretch

    Meridian Stretches for the Back of the Shoulders

    The following meridian stretches are for the back of the shoulders.

    Half Dragonfly Shoulder Stretch

    I used to call this stretch "The cross chest stretch" but I eventually realized it is like doing dragonfly one arm at a time. While laying on your belly, lift your chest and reach your left arm to the right. Reach your right arm back and place it on the floor. Press your right shoulder and the right side of your ribcage down. Tuck the toes of your left foot under, lift your left knee and use your leg to lift the left side of your pelvis. Lift the left side of your ribcage and also your left shoulder. By lifting the left side of your body you may notice that you increase the stretch to your left shoulder.

    shoulder stretchshoulder stretchshoulder stretch

    For a slightly different stretch, relax the left side of your body, reach your left hand over your right shoulder and reach your right hand up your back and clasp your hands.

    In the pictures I have my legs separated in order to start stretching my inner thighs. You can have your legs parallel, particularly when lifting one side of your body or you can spread your legs as shown to try and stretch the meridians of your inner thighs.

    Repeat on the other side.

    shoulder stretchshoulder stretch

    Cross Arm Back Stretch

    This posture stretches the muscles that attach your shoulder blades to your spine. Cross your arms and grab the opposite foot with each hand. Pull your ribcage back, away from your hands. You can bend your spine or straighten it (2nd and third pictures.)

    Then change your hands so that the other hand is on top.

    shoulder stretchshoulder stretchshoulder stretch


    This meridian stretch can be quite extreme. Focus on keeping your neck long and on keeping the front and back of your shoulders open.

    penguin yoga posepenguin yoga posepenguin yoga posepenguin yoga pose

    Place the back of your hands at the sides of your ribcage. Lengthen your neck, widen your shoulders and press your elbows towards each other. You can press them while inhaling and relax slightly while exhaling.

    Once you are comfortable with this variation you can place your elbows between your knees. (You may need to widen your feet in order to get your elbows inside your knees.) Gently use your knees to press your elbows towards each other. Push both your shoulder blades and your collar bones out towards the sides.

    Meridian Stretches for the Neck

    Stretching the meridians where they run up the neck can be fairly simple. Sit with your body upright and your chest slightly lifted. Lengthen your neck. Focus on feeling your cervical vertebrae, the seven vertebrae that connect your ribcage to your head. Slowly turn your head to the right and feel each of your cervical vertebrae turning relative to the one below it. Repeat on the other side. Put the same awareness into feeling your neck as you bend your neck to the right and then to the left. When bending your neck to the right you may try activating the muscles on the right side of your neck to assist the stretch. Likewise when bending your neck to the left.

    You can follow up these yoga postures with meridian stretches for the front, front of the body and legs.

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