Introducing the Makko Ho Stretches!
These are a series of 5 easy stretches that balance the Qi energy in the body. According to my Wu Tao dance teacher, Michelle Locke, these were developed by Shizuto Masunaga, A Zen Shiatsu master. I studied and have taught Wu Tao dance for many years, a dance therapy that is very therapeutic because it is meridian/channel based and so beautiful to do. You can find a Wu Tao class near you here.
The Makko Ho stretches are designed to both strengthen and improve organ function while opening the meridians, or energy pathways in the body.
The Meridian System
Each meridian is connected to an organ and further connected to a particular element, season, colour and emotion. When practiced regularly, the Makko Hos create flexibility in body and mind, vibrant health and a profound sense of peace and balance in your body.
One of the many gifts of the Makko Hos is how they reveal the state of balance and flow in the body. Depending on the degree of ease and flexibility you experience with each stretch, you can learn a lot about your body both structurally and psychologically.
For example, if you have stagnant energy in your liver and gall bladder meridians, the emotion of anger is usually present. If you have been suffering from grief, the lung and large intestine Makko Ho stretch can provide nurturing support for easing the emotional burden.
Every Wu Tao Dance class begins with the Makko Ho stretches to balance the Qi energy in the body to warm up and open the body to prepare to dance. You may like to begin your day with the Makko Hos or do them any time you are feeling stressed or anxious. Also good if you’re having trouble sleeping… just get out of bed, do the stretches and you’ll find more ease with being able to sleep.
In the video below you can join Anna, a Wu Tao Instructor based in New York, and do the stretches along with her.
Feel free to pause the video and spend some time in each stretch, staying centred in your breath.
The benefits from the stretches come through the relaxation into each one. No pushing or forcing or trying is needed. Just nice deep breathes and relax into each position and you will gradually become more flexible.