Acupressure Self-Help for Stress (1)

Movement Practices

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Movement Practices

Tui Na Acupressure Self Massage

(I’ve updated this information in a recent illustrated post, Tui Na Acupressure Self Massage.)

Use this massage as a warm up before doing the Thera Cane sequence or Eight Silken Movements, or use it any time for a quick energy pick-me-up.

Tui Na self massage uses a variety of strokes, always moving between joints, e.g., from shoulder to elbow, elbow to wrist, wrist to fingertips. For the brush stroke, brush away from the body on both sides of the arms (and legs). For the other three strokes, move continuously down one side of a limb, then up the other side. Do the strokes at least five times between each joint.

The sequence for moving around the body is as follows:

Outside of left arm (upper arm, forearm, hand), inside of left arm (hand, forearm, upper arm),  left side (from ribs to pelvis), down the outside of left leg (thigh, calf, foot), up the inside of left leg (foot, calf, thigh), down the inside of right leg, up the outside of right leg, right side (pelvis and ribs), inside and outside of right arm, chest, abdomen, low back, head.

The sequence of strokes: 1) brush with the flat, palm-side of the fingers, 2) grasp with the palm of the hand, 3) tap as if holding a raw egg in the hand (loose wrist), 4) circle with the flat of the fingers. With the grasp and circle strokes, you should move the flesh over the bones.

In Chinese, Tui means brush and Na means grasp. Hence the name Tui Na massage.

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Tracing the Three Yang Meridians

Tension accumulates in the head, neck, and shoulders. We trace the following meridians from head to foot  to encourage energy to move down, draining tension from the upper body into the ground.

Stomach Meridian: With both hands, stroke both sides of the body in the following sequence:

 From under the eyes down to the chin

 Up the sides of the face to the temples

 Retrace this line back to the chin

 Come down on either side of the throat

 Move out to the center of the collar bone

 Move straight down the chest through the breast area

 Come in to either side of the navel

 Move straight down to the pubic bone

 Move the hands down the thighs and calves (halfway between the front and outer side of the leg)

 At the ankle, stroke down the center of the foot to the second toe

 Shake and pinch the second toe. Let the neck relax and hang down.

Gall Bladder Meridian: On both sides of the body, make small circles in the following sequence:

 Circle from the outer edge of the eye to the front of the ear (tragus)

 Continue circling from the front of the ear up to the temple

 Circle behind the ears to the mastoid process at the base of the skull

 Come straight up over the head to the forehead, above the eyebrows

 Move back across the head to the base of the skull

 Move down the neck and out to the midpoint on the top of the shoulders

 Circle the fingertips to the sides and move down the ribs and the pelvis

 Continue circling down the outer sides of the thighs and calves

 Circle above the outer ankle bone, then across the top of the foot to the fourth toe

 Shake and pinch the fourth toe. Let the neck relax and hang down.

Bladder Meridian: On both sides of the body, make small brushing movements as follows:

 Brush up between the eyebrows

 Brush over the top of the head and down both sides of the back of the neck

 Reach up behind you and, with the thumbs and index fingers, brush two lines down each side of the spine

 Continue the four lines over the buttocks

 With each hand, brush one line down the back of the thighs and calves

 Brush below the outer ankle bone, then along the side of the foot to the little toe

 Shake and pinch the little toe. Remember to let the neck relax and hang down.

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Eight Silken Movements

These eight Qigong movements activate and balance all twelve acupressure meridians. The movements are done with the breath. Here’s a series of photos to illustrate the movements.

You can repeat each movement as many times as you like. Doing each movement three times is a good way to start. As with all stretches, it is extremely important to stay within your comfort zone. Stretch very slowly and only to a point where there is no discomfort. Stop immediately if there is any pain.

1. Upholding Heaven with Two Hands

This movement benefits the lungs and helps digestion, the heart, the spine, the back, and neck problems. It invigorates the muscles, relaxes the body, and alleviates fatigue.

 Place your feet a comfortable distance apart. Make sure your knees are not locked, and tuck the tailbone under.

 Raise your arms out to the side, palms up, as you inhale, bringing the arms over the head.

 When your hands meet overhead, interlace the fingers, turn the palms towards the heavens, and stretch up. If balance is not a problem for you, you can go up on your toes for the stretch.

 Slowly exhale as you bring your arms back to your side, palms down.

2. Opening the Bow

This movement opens the breath and improves circulation, especially in the head and neck. It strengthens the arms, shoulders, and chest and is good for tight muscles in this area. Because it opens the breath, it strengthens our qi (energy), promotes the circulation of qi in the body, and benefits the immune system.

 Take one step to the side to widen your stance. Bend your knees in the “horse-riding” position.

 Cross your arms in front of your chest, left arm in front. Straighten your left index finger and thumb. The other fingers can be curled towards the palm.

 Separate your arms as if your left hand was holding a bow and your right hand was pulling back on the bow string. Inhale deeply. Look through your extended index finger and thumb as if you were looking all the way to the horizon.

 Exhale as you relax the arms and bring them back to cross in front of the body, right arm in front.

 Inhale as you open to the right side, repeating these last two steps.

3. Raising One Arm at a Time

This movement helps digestion and elimination, balances the Stomach, Spleen, Liver and Gall Bladder channels, and increases the circulation of qi to the Spleen channel, which benefits the immune system.

 Bring your feet back under your shoulders at a comfortable distance. Place your hands in front of the lower abdomen, palms facing each other, left hand on top.

 Inhale as you raise your left hand over your head, turning it palm up and pointing the fingers  towards the center of the body. At the same time, lower your right hand, palm down, fingers pointing towards the center of the body. Stretch up with your left hand and down with your right.

 Exhale and return the arms to the starting position. Rotate your hands slowly, with the palms facing, and see if you feel qi between your hands. Relax and breathe naturally.

 Repeat the last two steps with the hands reversed, pushing up with the right and down with the left.

4. Looking Backwards

This movement relieves stress by energizing the brain and spinal cord. It increases neck flexibility and strengthens the neck muscles. Turn the head only as far as is comfortable.

 Cross your hands at your chest, left over right.

 Inhale as you open your arms to the side and back, with arms straight and palms forward. Turn your head to the left without rotating the waist, and look at your hand

 Exhale as you return to the starting position, right hand over left.

 Repeat the last two steps, turning the head to the right.

5. Bending the Trunk and Neck

This movement releases anger and rage. It increases the flexibility of the spine and strengthens the low back, hips, and thighs. By opening the waist area, it helps balance our yin and yang energies.

 Take a step out to the side, and bend the knees in the “horse-riding” stance. Place hands on hips.

 Exhale as you bend to the left. Let your head and shoulders tilt to the left so you feel the stretch all along the right side of the body, opening the ribs and diaphragm.

 Inhale as you return to standing.

  Exhale as you bend to the right side. Feel the stretch all along the left side of the body.

 Inhale as you return to the standing.

 Exhale as you bend the head and torso forward. Relax the neck.

 Inhale as you come up to standing.

 Exhale as you gently lean backwards. Support your low back with your hands. If you have low back pain, skip this part of the movement.

 Inhale as you return to standing. Repeat from the beginning.

 To relax the neck, gently bend the head forward and back, to the left and right. Turn the head all the way to the right, then the left. If you have problems with your neck, skip these movements.

6. Touching the Toes and Arching the Back

This movement benefits the kidneys, adrenals, and low abdomen. It strengthens the low back and waist. If you have low back pain, you may want to skip this movement. It improves blood flow to the brain, strengthens the nervous system, and helps regulate metabolism. As you move, think of gathering pure and abundant qi from the heavens and earth.

 Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.

 Exhale as you bend the torso and head forward, keeping the knees relaxed, but straight. If you can reach, touch your toes with your fingertips. Let the neck relax.

 Soften the knees, tuck your tail bone under, and inhale as you roll the spine back up.

 Place your hands on the low back for support, and exhale as you arch backwards.

 Return to the starting position and repeat.

7. Punching with Angry Eyes

This movements builds physical strength and stamina in the legs, arms, and upper back. It releases pent up anger and frustration. During this movement, open your eyes wide, as if you were angry and could direct anger out through your eyes. Move your mouth into a big, silly grin. Never punch at another person, and avoid punching at surfaces where you can see your reflection.

 Stand with bent knees and legs apart in the “horse-riding” stance. Place your clenched fists at the waist, palms up. Inhale.

 Punch forward strongly with your left fist. Do not extend the arm completely. The elbow should remain bent to avoid a sudden pull on the tendons at the elbows. As you extend the arm, turn the fist over so it is facing downwards at the end of the punch. Exhale as you punch and make a loud “huh!” or “ha!” sound.

 Inhale as you return to the starting position.

 Punch forward in the same way with the right fist.

 Repeat the forward punches as many times as you like.

 Punch up alternately with the left and right fists.

 Punch down alternately with the left and right fists.

 Do one more pair of punches forward with the left and right fists.

8. Standing on the Toes

This movement strengthens the mind and body to prevent illness. By opening the meridians, it energizes the nervous system, spine, and brain and increases the flow of qi and blood. This exercise is not recommended for those who have severe back problems or difficulties with balance.

 Stand with your feet about six inches apart.

 Inhale as you rise slowly on your toes. Hold this position for a few seconds. To maintain your balance, it helps to focus on an object on the wall. Glue your eyes to a spot.

 Exhale as you slowly lower your heels.

 Repeat the movement a total of ten times.

 An alternate version, if you have difficulty standing on your toes, is to bend at the hip crease and pull up on the calves six times, lifting the heels off the floor if you can. Breathe naturally.

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Three Qigong Movements for Long Life

Offering Up the Hands

Stand with your feet a comfortable distance apart, arms at your sides. Turns your palms forward. Raise your arms until your hands are at eye level and, at the same time, rise on your toes. Inhale as the arms move up. Now turn the palms face down. Lower the arms and the heels as you exhale. When your heels are on the ground, lift your toes.

Do this movement slowly with the breath. It is said that doing this movement 100 times a day ensures excellent health. 1000 times a day promises a long life.

Stretching to the side

You may want to widen your stance for this movement. Exhale as you lean to the left, stretching your right arm over your head. Inhale as you return to the center. Exhale as you lean to the right, stretching your left arm over your head. Inhale as you return to the center.

Do the complete sequence (left and right) at least 10 times.

This movement is excellent for massaging the Gall Bladder meridian, a meridian that is frequently and easily thrown out of balance by the stresses of our modern life-style.

Oscillating between Heaven and Earth

Bend your knees slightly and raise your arms, palms down, until your hands are at eye level. Arch your back (belly forward), and look up. Inhale during this portion of the movement. Now make your hands into fists, lower your arms, and round your spine. Squeeze your arms into your sides. Exhale during the downward portion of the movement. Repeat 10 times, doing the movement with the breath.

Squeezing the ribs and breast area with the arms, along with the movement of the breath, helps move lymphatic fluid, which has a tendency to stagnate in this area of the body. This is also an excellent massage for the spine.


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