Quick Ki Workout
This short, invigorating series of meridian stretches is great for everyday toning, and it's a wonderful workout and warm-up for overall well-being. In 15 quick minutes a day.
Lungs and large intestine:
Grasp your thumbs at waist level. Inhale, raise your arms to your head, release your thumbs, spread your fingers, and arch your back, stretching your arms out as far as you can and exhaling (figure 1).
Straighten your back, grasp your thumbs behind your back, inhale, and bend forward (figure 2). Exhale, straighten your body, and repeat the sequence five times.
Stomach and spleen:
Sit in a kneeling position with your buttocks resting on your feet (figure 3). Exhale, return to the starting position, and repeat five times.
Place your hands on the floor at the sides of your feet, inhale, and lift your body as far as you can, arching your back and letting your head drop back (figure 4). Exhale, return to the starting position, and repeat five times.
Heart and small intestine:
Sit with the soles of your feet together and your hands grasping your feet. Inhale and bend your body forward over your knees (figure 5).
Move your elbows forward, alternating each one as you exhale. Return to starting position and repeat the sequence five times.
Bladder and kidneys:
Sit with your legs straight out in front of you. Inhale and raise your arms above your head (figure 6).
Lean forward to grasp the soles of your feet as you exhale (figure 7).
Inhale and bend your knees, then exhale as you straighten them. Repeat five times.
Heart constrictor and triple heater:
Sit cross-legged, with your arms crossed and your palms resting face up on your thighs.
Inhale, lean your body forward, and stretch your arms out as you exhale (figure 8). Return to starting position and repeat the sequence five times.
Gallbladder and liver:
Sit in a straddle pose, with your legs spread. Place your hands on the crease at the tops of your thighs, and gently rock from side to side several times. Turn at the waist, facing your left leg, place your left hand on the floor, and wrap your right arm around your chest and ribs (figure 9). Inhale and raise the left arm, then stretch your body over your right leg as you exhale.
Return to starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Repeat the entire sequence five times on each side. Now, grasp your hands, inhale, raise your hands above your head, and lean forward as far as possible as you exhale. Inhale, and while still leaning forward, place your palms on the floor and move them forward, alternating right and left arms as you exhale. Repeat five times and rest.
*These stretches were adapted from the Boston Shiatsu School & Clinic in Cambridge, MA. Illustrations: Angela Mark