The Makko Ho consists of 6 stretches that are designed to both strengthen and improve organ function while opening the 12 major meridians, or energy pathways in the body. This group of stretches comes from the Zen Shiatsu health practices. Each meridian is associated with a particular pair of organs in the body, associated emotions, elements and colours. (see picture, please click on the pic to enlarge). Practicing the Makko ho will balance your physical, emotional and spiritual energy. The practice of Makko ho will also aid immunity and general well-being. You will see that the stretches resemble standard yoga poses, but the added knowledge and focus on the meridians makes that the practices has a slight different feel to it.
The Makko Ho is always practiced in this specific order and the idea is to breathe slowly into the poses, while trying to relax into the pose on each exhalation breath. Each pose is held from 3 to 10 breaths and is repeated 2 or three times, depending on the ease or difficulty of getting into the pose. It is also advised to do a little warm up before you start.
Here’s a really nice set of illustrations from sohoshiatsu.com
A standing quad stretch can also be practiced as part 1 of the earth phase. Or you can move from camel pose to virasana or hero’s pose. A bolster under your back will help support.
In this pose (Baddha-konasana) you may wish to rock form side to side before moving forward.
To ease in this pose you may wish to alternate lifting each arm a little higher than the other, before coming forward. Sitting on the edge of a cushion will support the hips.Make sure to contract lower belly to support the lower back.
This picture shows only the first position. The second position is with the hands on opposite knees and the third position is with the hands flat on the floor underneath the knees.
Before doing the side or forward bend you also may wish to wriggle your hips while reach your arms up to loosen up the spine. Sitting on the edge of a cushion will support the hips.