Makko Ho is a Shiatsu Stretching Technique
I first learned about Makko ho stretches while in massage school years ago. My teacher would lead us through these stretches at the beginning of each class. These stretches are intended to bring health to the body, mind and spirit. It’s a great addition to any exercise routine or a gentle way to wake up the body or simply relieve stress and tension in both body and mind.
Meridian stretching isn’t just arbitrary stretching. According to traditional Chinese Medicine, Makko Hos are a series of stretches that relate to the meridians in the body. The theory is that when stretching these meridians, the energy or qi is able to flow more smoothly thus enhancing ones health in body and mind.
Stretching is an Activity with Great Importance for our Overall Wellness.
We’ve all heard that too much stretching can be bad for you and not enough stretching can lead to more tightness and pain. So what are we to do? Whether you had been living a rather sedentary life or you are someone who is active but neglectful of stretching your body or simply wound up with normal stress and tension of daily living, Makko Ho stretches are a great way to free the body of tightness and bound up energy.
Here are SIX Makko Ho Stretches
* It is suggested that they be done in sequential order and to be repeated three times. Remember to breathe fully while doing these!
1: Metal Element ~ Relates to the Lung and Large Intestine.
- Stand tall with your feet shoulder width apart.
- Bring your hands behind your back and link your thumbs.
- Lift through your chest and as you exhale begin to fold forward.
- Raise your arms up behind you as your head is hanging down.
- Hold this position for a few long exhales before you SLOWLY rise to your original position.
2: Earth Element ~ Relates to the Stomach and Spleen.
- Sit between your heels.
- Lean back and reach for your feet.
- If you can go further without feeling pain in your knees or low back, continue to lie back you can rest your arms on the floor.
- Tilt your head back for more stretch.
- One more alternative for this Makko ho is to remain standing.
- Bend one knee so that your heel reaches for your hip.
- Grab onto that ankle and hold the stretch for a few long exhales.
- Do the same for the other leg.
3: Primary Fire ~ Relates to Heart and Small Intestine.
- Sit with soles of feet pressing together or as close as you can get them.
- The knees will be butterflied out to the side.
- Wrap your hands around your feet and sit up as tall as you can.
- On your exhale, fold over from your hips.
- On each exhale fold over a little more.
- After several breaths, SLOWLY come up.
4: Water Element ~ Relates to Kidneys and Bladder.
- Sit down with legs extended in front of you. * Keep your legs straight.
- Reach your arms above your head.
- Exhale and fold over from your hips and reach for your shins or your feet.
- Focus on feeling the stretch along your spine as well as in the backs of your legs.
5: Secondary Fire Element ~ Heart Governor and Triple Heater.
- Sit with legs crossed.
- Start with the Right leg on the inside and the Left on the outside.
- Cross the Right arm Under the Left arm.
- Exhale and fold forward from your hips.
- Stay here for a few deep breaths.
- Repeat the makko ho but cross the opposite legs and arms.
- An alternative to this that is gentler is to hug yourself and turn to each side for a stretch.
6: Wood Element ~ Related to the Liver and Gallbladder.
- Sit up straight with stretched wide.
- Reach both arms up over head with palms facing each other.
- On your exhale, reach right arm over to left foot and left arm crosses down toward the right thigh.
- When you can not fold any more, pause to inhale. On your next exhale see if you can fold further. After a few breaths, SLOWLY come up.
- Make sure to keep your butt on the ground!
For more information on Makko Ho Stretches
Go on and practice these Makko Ho Stretches and discover more on traditional Chinese medicine.
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