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  • Writer's pictureJohn Blue

Channel Massage Sequence

This is a wonderful addition to your self-massage sequence. Increase the vibrancy of your body while developing awareness of your channels.

When I was a stiff graduate student studying medicine, my favorite way to review anatomy was to practice this restorative self-massage sequence. It helped me immensely with my aching joints, and I am sure it will help you too.

You can enjoy this sequence by itself or after "Snake Shakes its Tail" during qigong practice. You can also use this as a mindfulness practice during the day. Do you notice how physical sensation helps anchor you in the present moment?

By enlisting the support of your practice partner, it's nice to include a bit of extra patting on your upper back as an extension of the self-massage sequence. In general, you can spend more time enlivening the outside and back of your body, as those meridians tend to be more resilient and enjoy light dispersal. However, if you experience weakness in your lower back, arthritis, skin damage, or herniation, please be extra gentle. Obviously, pregnant people should avoid smacking their bellies and can try rubbing instead. Everyone has a different body, and some of us are especially delicate. Please avoid hurting yourself, and get medical advice if you're unsure about any practice.

As you train, always maintain good postural relationships. Don't tense your shoulders, lock your knees, or hold your breath. Always return to your navel after each cycle, pausing to release any accumulated tension.

Our goal isn't to pound the tight muscles, toughen them up, or disperse tension like a shiatsu therapist. Instead, imagine coaxing energy and circulation to the surface. You are drawing fullness to the location rather than breaking up local hardness. Because we are using existing resources, we avoid practicing this sequence when feeling exhausted.

I will cover meridians and points relating to our qigong practice in later lessons & interviews. In the meantime, you can search online about channel sequence and the specific acupoints if you have questions.

Gently swing your arms, and turn your waist while keeping your hips stable and soft. Do not permit your knees to twist! Allow your hands to lightly pat your navel and your lower spine at the same moment. Slowly transition to both of your hands lightly tapping on your navel while you relax and breathe naturally.

We will begin by emphasizing nourishing the lung and large intestine channels. Using your right hand, pat lightly up your torso slightly to the left of your center line. Follow your collarbone outward toward the shoulder, thoroughly releasing the opening called Lung 2. If you habitually roll your shoulders forward, you may linger here to help remove that pattern.

With your palm facing forward, massage down your arm to the inside of your elbow. Spend a few moments stimulating this area at Lung 5, especially if you have breathing difficulties. Continue down to the palm and the base of your thumb. This spot becomes painful over time for many people, so please gently pay attention to keeping this Lung 10 zone soft and nourished. It's easier to think of these locations as access points or openings rather than spots to be forcefully manipulated.

Flip your hand over to thump the other side of your thumb on the back of your hand. This Large Intestine 4 spot is helpful. Try pressing and holding this point the next time you have a headache.

Continue gently striking upward toward the bend of the elbow. Spend a few moments in the zone of Large Intestine 11 and the area at the top of the forearm. Spend extra time here if you tend to have tension in your wrists.

Work your way up to the front and top of the shoulder. Take extra time lightly stimulating these points, Large Intestine 15 & 16, especially if you suffer from chronic shoulder tension.

Circle to your upper back, keeping your shoulder relaxed, patting and relaxing your upper spine. This point at the base of the neck is called Governing Vessel 14. It's essential to keep this area soft and warm during practice; spending time scrubbing it with your palm feels soothing.

Softly pat your hand up the back of your head, over the top, down your face, past the chest, and once again on your navel. Remember that the goal is not to disperse your belly but to encourage softness and fullness.

Trade hands and repeat the same sequence on the opposite side.

Returning to the navel, we will take the time to nourish the stomach and spleen channels. Pat your hands around your waist to the lower back. Spend a moment softening and releasing, especially if you regularly experience lower back tension. I also love to rub and warm the lumbar each time.

Draw your hands around the waist along something we call the Belt Vessel. Use your hands to help open the front of your hips at the point called Stomach 30. This conjunction will help you to soften this area of your hips and thighs as you stand.

Continue patting down the outside-front line of the legs. Pause for a moment on the space above the knee called Stomach 34 to continue easing the thighs. Then do the same just below the knee on a fantastic point called Stomach 36. Allow it to fill and energize through your touch.

Lightly smack all the way down to the tops of your feet. Of course, if you have any wounds or delicate skin, avoid doing any harm. Also, if you have higher blood pressure levels, please be careful not to place your head below the level of your heart. Sink by bending your hips and knees, or sit in a chair when you reach toward your feet. Avoid locking your knees or putting pressure on your abdomen, especially if you're pregnant or have a spinal injury. Please be gentle with your body!

Moving your hands to the inside of your feet, begin patting up the inner-front line of your legs. Help some liveliness gather at the intersection called Spleen 6, just above the ankles. This point is beneficial for people who suffer from painful menstruation.

Following that channel upwards, gently soften the space just above the knee called Spleen 10, and then the front of the pelvic fold in spaces called Spleen 12 & 13. These will help you to continue letting go of your hips and legs and will continue to make it easier to release your lower back.

We finished enlivening what is called the Tai Yin and Yang Ming channels. Well done! Return your hands to your belly, lightly tapping on the navel and nurturing the qi there.

Next, we will follow the body's Shao Yin and Tai Yang sections.

With your right hand, pat gently up your torso, slightly further to the left of your center line. At the level of your sternum, pat across your chest and lift your arm to reach the soft space under your arm called Heart 1, nourishing blood flow into the arm.

Following the back-inside line down toward the little finger of your hand. Pause for a moment on the crease of your wrist to very gently activate a point called Heart 7, and then continue down your palm toward the little finger of your hand. Stimulating this area on the wrist was very helpful to me in the prevention of anxiety.

Begin knocking the spot on your left hand on the bottom of your first. It is called Small Intestine 3 and is terrific for people experiencing spine and shoulder blade stiffness. Follow the channel up to a spot above the point of the elbow. Use this Small Intestine 8 location to help ease stiffness in the elbow. Continuing upward toward the shoulder blade, some people can reach the area of Small Intestine 9 to help soften their upper back and shoulder. Refrain from creating tension by contorting to find these points. Be easy. You might also enjoy awakening the scapula by reaching over the shoulder.

Return to patting the top of your spine. Once again, follow the sequence up and over your head, then down to your navel.

Switch hands and continue to repeat that sequence on the other side of your body.

Once you again return to the navel, allow your hands to separate, and spend a few moments nourishing the lower back. Allow your hands to tap lightly downward, massaging on your tailbone and the point at the base of your glutes, called Urinary Bladder 36. Also, enjoy the spot in the center of your hamstrings called Bladder 37. Especially if you have tight legs as you lean over.

The location behind your knee, called Bladder 40, is terrific to linger over and is often very helpful in treating lower back pain. Spend extra time softening this area each day. Continue to pat down to the center of your calf muscle. This is an opening called Bladder 57, which will also help relax the leg sinews.

Follow this meridian downward to the outside of the foot and the little toe. Again, please be cautious with bending over if this is difficult, painful, or dangerous. Always skip any areas that make you feel worse rather than better!

Move your hands to the inside of your feet and begin patting the inside of the leg. At the level of the knee, you will be making contact with the leg at the inside-back line. Follow up the channel toward your groin and then transfer up to the front of your pelvic area, near the midline. Return to patting your navel for a moment.

Now we will enliven the Jueyin and Sanjiao pathways. Begin lightly striking the side of your torso; this opening is called Liver 13. I love this point for helping to release the breath and ease frustration. Massage up the rib side beneath the arm and then circle the shoulder around the points Pericardium 1 & 2. These junctions will help as you learn to soften your shoulders.

Continue down the midline-inside of your arm, a little above your wrist, to an opening called Pericardium 6. This spot is famous for the treatment of nausea. Spend a moment patting the center of your palm at Pericardium 8 to help deepen the softening of your hands.

Flip your hand over and repeat the same softening of the back of the hand at Triple Warmer 3 and then above the wrist at Triple Warmer 5. The latter will help to release a lifetime of accumulated hand and arm tension at the computer. Follow the center back line of the arm up to the shoulder. Spend several moments softening and nourishing the top of the shoulder at Gall Bladder 21. As before, circle up from the base of the neck, over the head, and then settle everything back down to the navel. Repeat the same vitalizing sequence on the other side of the body and then return to the navel.

Circle your hands around your back, and help your lumbar feel warm and full. Also, spend a moment on the outside of your lower back on openings called Gallbladder 25. Be very gentle on these sensitive points to help revitalize your kidneys.

Follow this line down to the area in the center of your glutes. This Gallbladder 30 point is wonderful for softening your hips. Continue patting down the center line of the outside of your legs, avoiding irritating already tight and exhausted areas. Spend a moment at a point of intersection called Gallbladder 34, which will help soften the sinews and ease your hip and back tension.

Further release the sides of the legs, moving to the ankles and the tops of your feet. Circle to the inside of the feet and begin patting up the inside of your legs once again. Gently follow the inner leg upward to the soft point above the inside of the knees called Liver 8. Softly enliven this point to help the local support of your knees.

Pat upward until toward the groin and return your hands to your navel again. Slowing the patting of your belly, allow your posture to resolve into a middle-embracing stance. Rest in this position for as long as you'd like, allowing your form to become quiet and settled before moving into the rest of the self-massage sequence.

What's next:

Continue with your daily training routine and incorporate this new skill. Deepen your practice by becoming yet more attentive and relaxed. Improve your ability to rest, enjoy time outdoors, and eat healthy foods. All of these will make your qigong experience richer and more effective. The following lessons will add a few more new techniques. However, only move forward once you have embodied the skills in the previous instruction. There is a reason that all of these lessons are shared in a particular order. Don't skip around!


Please explore and enjoy this practice each day for the next couple of weeks until it feels effortless and intuitive. Get to know how it benefits you. Then you can feel free to add it to your regular practice whenever you need extra help. Ask your practice buddy to help you loosen your upper back, and share your favorite acupressure point with the community in the comment section.

You're doing such a great job. Give yourself a pat on the back! Ha!

And, enjoy your practice!

Remember that this is only a tiny part of a more extensive system and sequence of teaching videos. Subscribe to my channel to learn more!

Make sure that you begin your practice at the beginning of the sequence

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