This is a post demonstrating the Meridian Stretches for Water Element: Kidney and Urinary Bladder Meridians. But first I will point out the aims of a Shiatsu treatment, you may stretch your limbs to clear your meridians and you may see a Shiatsu therapist to heal all the body. Meridian therapy is 1 aspect of a Shiatsu treatment, which includes manual healing, exercise and dietary admonitions.
The aim of a Shiatsu Treatment
A. Centering the Hara or Mind
The ultimate aim of a shiatsu session is to “settle” a person into their hara-our mind. This returns a human to their natural state, which is self-corrective.
B. Balancing Meridians
Shiatsu encourages a balanced flow of energy through the body.
C. Balancing Underactivity and Overactivity
Balancing energy involves encouraging energy to flow through meridians that are underactive (kyo) and sedating meridians that are overactive (jitsu).
D. Balancing the Five Elements
Meridian treatment also treats imbalances according to the five element system. If a certain element is out of balance, the associated meridians become a focus of the treatment.
According to Shiatsu Theory, ll movement should come from the hara. Pressure is not applied merely with the muscular strength of the arms or fingers, but flows from the hara. This quality of treatment is transferred to the recipient and encourages their energy to gather in the hara.
B. Finger Pressure
Finger pressure is the quintessential technique of Shiatsu (it is, after all, what the name means). The principle is to apply pressure perpendicular to the body. This allows the “whole body” or the hara to be behind the pressure.
C. Additional Technique
In addition to finger pressure, pressure can be applied with the palms, fist, elbows, knees, and feet.
In order to move energy and open up the meridians, shaking, tapping, rotating, massage, stretching, and a variety of other techniques can be used.
Palm healing fits very nicely in a shiatsu session when there is enough time and it seems appropriate. Generally palm healing, or reiki, is not a major part of a 50 or 60 minute session, but longer sessions can include a significant amount of palm healing work.
D. Tonification and Sedation
Tonification is used for kyo. When meridians are weak and deficient they benefit from tonification, which is a slower, deeper style.
Sedation is used for meridians that are overactive (jitsu).
It is now time to strengthen our ‘water element’ for the winter months. The water element in Five element Chinese Medicine Theory consists of the Kidneys, the Urinary Bladder, and their associated meridian channels. The Kidney meridian consists of 27 major acupressure points starting at the soles of our feet and finishing just below the clavicle bone on our chests. The Urinary Bladder meridian channel starts between the eyes and finishes on the side of the little toes. With 67 acupressure points in total, the Urinary Bladder meridian is the longest.
A well balanced water element requires a good flow of Qi (energy), and blood circulation in the meridians just mentioned, and has an impact on ones emotional and physical wellbeing. When the water element is out of balance, a person may feel depressed, fearful, insecure, and lacking in confidence. In contrast, a person with a balanced water element is likely to display courage and determination. Physical effects of imbalance include insomnia, trembling, lower back pain, frequent urination, thinning of the head hair, hearing loss, ankle and wrist pain, and feeling cold all the time.
Foods that are good for the water element are sea vegetables, sea weed, fish, oysters, mussels, tuna, pork, boiled eggs, black sesame, eggplant, sweet potato, celery, cucumber, lettuce, adzuki beans, red kidney beans, lentils, apple, banana, grapes, raspberries, chestnut, pistachio, and walnuts.
Exercises that can help to strengthen the water element are swimming, walking, Tai Chi, Qi Kong, meridian stretches and meditation.
Shiatsu massage and oriental therapies such as moxa and sliding style cupping can also help strengthen the water element, restoring balance and activating the body’s self healing power. The first two photos demonstrate Urinary Bladder Meridian Stretches, and the last two photos show Kidney Meridian Stretches. Sit flat on the floor, with your toes pointing up, take a deep breathe and breath-out as you stretch your arms towards your toes with your thumbs pointing down. Reach as far forward as you can, hold in that position and breathe naturally to feel the stretches under your legs. Remember not to push beyond your own limitation. Stretch your right arm forward and retract the left leg by moving your left heel inward. Repeat the same on the other side. Breathe naturally to feel the stretches in your inner thighs. Remember not to push beyond your own limitation.