If you stand with your arms by your sides and your palms facing forwards, the heart, pericardium and lung meridian run down the from of each arm in three roughly parallel lines.
To stretch these meridians at the wrists, bend your hand and fingers back.
To stretch these meridians at the elbows, straighten, or even hyper extend your elbows.
To stretch these meridians at the shoulder you can:
You may also be able to stretch these meridians by rotating your arms externally.
The following meridian stretches are the equivalent of stretching the shoulders by moving the arms up and back while sitting.
The first stretch is called puppy dog.
From cat pose, the idea is to reach your arms forwards and then sink your chest to the floor. Focus on allowing your spine to bend backwards so that you can stretch your chest. Relax your shoulders so that you can focus on stretching the front of your arms.
To make it easier to relax and stretch in this posture you can focus on using your shoulders to press your hands into the floor while exhaling (as if you are trying to move out of the stretch) and then use them as if trying to lift your arms while inhaling.
Another option for doing this yoga pose is to sneak into it.
From a laying down position, lift your pelvis and move your ribcage back towards your knees. Rest with your sternum on the floor. Move your chine forwards so that you stretch the front of your neck. When you are ready, move your ribcage back further.
So that you stretch the meridians at the front of your arms sweep your arms to the side and then to the front. As your chest and shoulders open try moving your ribcage back more and your pelvis higher.
Note that this exercise stretches the lung meridian (as well as the heart meridian and pericardium meridian) where they enter the arm.
A similar meridian stretch is called "spiderman" or wall stretch.
For this shoulder stretch you can either kneel in front of a wall with your bum on your heels and the top of your head touching the wall or you can lay down in front of a wall with your head touching it.
Lift your chest and then reach your arms up. Position your hands so that they are shoulder width apart of slightly closer.
Here again breathe into your ribcage and feel your ribs move as you breathe. Focus on relaxing your shoulders.
Rest after doing this pose, and then if you like, move a little closer to the wall and do the same pose again.
This next meridian stretch is the equivalent of stretching the arms by moving them down and back.
The next posture is called rack. Where the two previous postures did the equivalent of taking your arms up and back, rack takes your arms down and back.
In a seated position place your hands on the floor behind you. Point your fingers back. Position your hands shoulder-width apart or you can move them closer towards each other, pehaps even close enough so that the inside edges of your hands touch.
Move your shoulders back relative to your chest so that your shoulder blades move towards each other.
Hold this position or if you wish use your legs and move your pelvis away from your hands. Keep your arms pressing back and your chest pressing forwards. If you like you can go forwards even move.
The more you keep your chest open and the further you move your hips forwards, the greater you stretch your lung meridian, heart meridian and pericardium meridian.
For a slightly different stretch, try Rack with your palms facing up.
The next two meridian stretches do the equivalent of stretching the arms to the side and back.
The first pose I call Benitashana after the guy who I learned it from (Jim Bennitt.) You could also call this "Chest Stretching Pose."
Lie down with your belly on the floor. Reach your right arm out to the side. Bend your right elbow ninety degrees keeping your upper arm 90 degrees to your body. Lift the left side of your body and roll it back. Reach your left leg back but keep it off of the floor. Reach your right leg forwards. Keep your right shoulder on the floor. Keep your left leg off of the floor so that the weight of that leg helps to roll the left side of your body back and helps you to stretch the right side of your chest.
Release and the do the other side.
The next yoga pose is called lapasana (after Andrey Lappa) or Front Shoulder Stretch since it stretches the front of the shoulder as well as the lung, heart and pericardium meridians.
Since this pose is a twist as well as a stretch for your right shoulder, breathe into your ribs to help your ribcage twist. Relax your shoulder so that you can stretch it.
Each inhale open your ribcage, each exhale relax it.
When I first started doing this pose I used to do it twice to increase the opening. You may find that this posture is easier if you do benitasana first. You could also try doing this pose, then benitasana and then repeat this pose again.
If flexible enough, you can reach your left hand back and grab your right fingers. Pull your palm off of the floor to stretch your lung meridian, heart and pericardium at the wrist as well as at the shoulder.
Another way of opening the meridians at the shoulders is to rotate the arms in a variety of positions. Since the focus is on opening the lung meridian, pericardium meridian and heart meridian, you can focus on inhaling and opening your chest while slowly rotating your arms externally. Try this with
You can also stretch the same meridians at your wrists by bending your hands back as you externally rotate your arms.
Try to do all actions smoothly and slowly.
The next set of meridian stretches involve bending the wrists backwards to stretch the lung, pericardium and heart meridians. You can do these stretches one hand at a time or both hands at the same time as shown below.
Place your hands on the floor with your palms down and your fingers pointing back. Lift your ribcage up and try to take some weight off of your wrists. (Notice the difference in height in my ribcage between the first picture and the second picture.) Slowly lean your upper body back to stretch the front of your writst. You can hold this position or slowly move backwards and forwards in time with your breath, each time going a little bit further.
These stretches all work on the front of the arm. To balance them, do the following stretches for the back of the arms.
Why improve muscle control?
Muscle control not only helps you to control your body, it also helps you to feel it.
Muscle activation creates the tension that not only moves your body, but helps you to "sense" it.
With better muscle control you can use your body with less effort and make it easier to balance, improve flexibility and deal with pain and poor posture.