In Chinese medicine, hypertension is often (or at least in part) associated with the Liver organ and meridian. The Liver is imperative in maintaining the free flow of qi throughout the body. Sometimes when the qi gets sluggish– e.g. from lack of exercise or stress – excess energy rises to the head, leading to high blood pressure, red eyes, headaches, overthinking, and irritability. You might imagine a garden hose with a kink. The water builds up on one side of the kink, and if left untreated, may eventually explode!
In yoga and Thai yoga massage, we emphasize stretches that open the Liver meridian, which includes opening the intercostals. This encourages the free flow of qi, diffuses that excess energy from the head, and returns the body back to equilibrium.
Above is an example of a Thai yoga massage pose. It is like a restorative version of the common yoga pose, extended side angle or Utthita Parsvakonasana.
This pose is held for about 30 seconds, and the receiver is encouraged to breathe into the intercostals. In Thai massage, we work together towards that common goal, here, to soothe that Liver qi!
Debbie Yu is a licensed Acupuncturist and Yoga Instructor. She recently began teaching Yoga classes at Alpine Integrated Medicine on Fridays, and is also open to private sessions of Thai Yoga Massage. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in learning more or scheduling a Thai Yoga Massage Session with Debbie.