The Meridian System has 12 primary meridians, but there are also 8 extra meridians known as the Eight Extraordinary Vessels. Additional names for these are Eight Extraordinary Meridians, Eight Curious Vessels, the Eight Marvelous Meridians, and the Eight Irregular Vessels.
The Eight Extraordinary Vessels are as follows:
- Du Mai ————> Governing Vessel
- Ren Mai ———–> Conception Vessel
- Chong Mai ——–> Penetrating Vessel
- Dai Mai ————> Belt Channel
- Yang Chiao Mai —> Yang Motility Channel
- Yin Chaio Mai —–> Yin Motility Channel
- Yang Wei Mai —–> Yang Regulating Channel
- Yin Wei Mai ——-> Yin Regulating Channel
These eight vessels are typically used in pairs:
- Ren with Yin Chiao
- Du with Yang Chiao
- Chong with Yin Wei
- Dai with Yang Wei
Of these eight meridians, only the Ren and the Du have their own pressure points. The other six use points that belong to the twelve primary meridians. For energy practice, the Du, the Ren, the Chong and the Dai are the most important of the Eight Extraordinary Meridians.
The Du Mai flows from the tip of the tailbone up the spine, over the head and ends in the upper mouth area. The Ren Mai flows from the perineum up along the front middle of the torso and ends in the lower mouth area. In the Microcosmic Orbit meditation practice, the Ren and the Du meridians are linked into a single continuous flow – how energy circulates when inside the womb.
The Chong Meridian flows vertically inside the body along the front of the spine, and is most closely associated with Yuan Qi. The Chong has a close resonance with the Shushumna Nadi. It is described in Hindu Yogic traditions as our energetic core.
The Dai Mai circles the waist, and is the only horizontal meridian. It is like a belt containing the other vertically-flowing meridians. In some practices, we can learn to spiral the Dai Meridian up to connect with the energy of the planets, stars, and galaxies, and then down to connect with the core of the earth.