Meridians are invisible pathways through which energy or life force flows in the human body. These channels are connected to specific organs that can become diseased if the energy to them is blocked. Acupressure, shiatsu, qigong, t'ai chi, and polarity therapy use various techniques in restoring energy flow.
Acupressure manipulates the same points as acupuncture but uses the hands and fingers instead of needles. Shiatsu is a Japanese therapy and a form of acupressure. Qigong is practiced by millions in China. It is a system of gentle exercise and breathing techniques that restore the circulation of energy. The theory behind qigong is that the energy or life force that is inherent in all matter has two aspects, yin and yang. Illness, whether physical or emotional, develops when the energy flow between these two opposites moves out of balance or is depleted. Because of its ease and slowness, qigong can be practiced by all ages including the elderly, helping them maintain their strength and agility. Among the conditions that are benefited by the discipline are gastrointestinal ailments, ulcers, arthritis, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
T'ai chi also incorporates the life force and yin-yang principles in its exercise program and can be practiced by all age groups as well as the disabled. Research compiled in Atlanta, Georgia, showed that a group of elderly individuals who practiced t'ai chi had improvements in the functioning of the nervous, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal systems and delays in osteoporosis development. Polarity therapy uses both Eastern and Western philosophies of energy. The right side and head of the body represent the positive electric pole, and the left side and feet the negative; the spine is neutral. The practitioner uses a light touch on specific points in the body in order to encourage the free flow of energy and facilitate the process of healing.
For more information contact: Acupressure Institute, 1533 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, California 94709, 510-845-1059; American Oriental
Bodywork Association, 6801 Jericho Turnpike, Syosset, New York 11791, 516-364-5533. American Shiatsu Association, P.O. Box 718, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts 02130. National Qigong Association of the USA, P.O. Box 20218, Boulder, Colorado 80308, 1-888-218-7788; Qigong Academy, 8103 Marlborough Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44129. American Polarity Therapy Association, 2888 Bluff Street, Suite 149, Boulder, Colorado 80301, 1-303-545-2080; Polarity Wellness Center, 10 Leonard Street, Suite A, New York, New York 10013, 212-334-8392.
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