Joint and gland exercises, also known as meridian exercises, are essentially joint exercises based on pavanmuktasana series, which were formulated by the Bihar School of Yoga. The Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy have called similar practices “joint and gland” exercises.
According to Indian tradition, the human body, which is both physical and subtle, consists of nadis and chakras. The vital energy which is called prana, is circulated through the nadis and the cosmic/divine energy lies latent in the chakras.
The role and function of the chakras and nadis in spiritual development have been described in The Upanishads, Yoga and Tantra texts. The chakras are the centers of meditation and energies pass through the nadis and chakras in the yogic process. Hatha yoga and kundalini yoga primarily deal with these energies.
From a psychological standpoint, the chakras may be regarded as ancient intuitions about the various conditions and possibilities of the human psyche or personality.
The Indian theory of the nadis and chakras was introduced in China before the civil war and was developed as a medical treatment system applied through acupuncture, acupressure and moxibustion. The meridians and the central points of the meridians are like the nadis and chakras. The Meridians and the centers correspond to various organs and glands of the body. The meridians pass through the various joints of the body.
The Vital energy (prana), known as qi or Ki in the Chinese system, is an intermediary between the mind and body and it is distributed throughout the body via the meridians. A deficiency or imbalance of the Ki flow in the meridians, influences the organism’s healthy ad mind and body functions. The energy deficiencies and imbalances are treated by means of acupressure, acupuncture or moxibustion.
Some Japanese healers, notably Hirosih Motoyama of the Institute for Religious Psychology, Tokyo, Adopted the pavanmuktasana series of the Bihar School as meridian exercises.
Whether or not one subscribes to meridian theory, the pavanmuktasana series appears to be very relevant to deal with stress. Stress affects skeletal musculature and as well as internal organs and systems functioning. Joint exercises coupled with some asanas may provide the viable practice to deal with stress and disorders caused by it. The muscles in many joints of the body are in antagonistic pairs and are attached to the joints by tendons. The obvious response to stress at the muscular level is tension, rigidity and restlessness. The joint exercises may provide a better and easy means of stretching muscles to make them flexible, soft and supple. As yogasanas involve stretching and squeezing of the various body parts including the internal organs, the joint and gland exercises may augment the processes of the body.