Exercise with proper body alignment is included in one of the 8 fundamental pillars of healing in the Traditional Taoist Chinese Medicine model. Chi Kung, Nei Kung, Tai Chi Chuan and cultivation of energy in sexual practices were created to tune the body in order to maximize the flow of Chi. Why? Because, when health is vital, life is lived with happiness.
Health from the Taoist perspective meant equipping the body-mind spirit with tools to adapt to the adverse influences of life. These ever-changing life circumstances were always described by the complementary and inseparable opposite polarities named Yin and Yang. From this perspective, like two sides of a coin, one is best served by taking into account the polarities in any situation. All exercises circulate Chi . Some tighten the body, others make our physical structure more flexible. Some breathing methods are cooling some warming. A seemingly fast exercise might be classified as Yang while the overall effect of that exercise may create exhaustion(Yin) . Slow-moving exercises like Tai Chi Chuan may seem Yin but their overall effect is to create reply-rooted stamina and smoothness that lead to great speed in a martial arts application(yang). Each person is best served when he/she finds the unique balance of any lifestyle activity that creates a harmony suited to his/her the evolution of Body Mind Spirit. An important practice in our continual healthy evolution is to challenge ourselves. Laziness is a doorway to degeneration. Being too hard on ourselves to improve is equally detrimental (deter mental). BALANCE
Adverse seemingly challenging situations are but one side of a shore that when resolved leads us across the river. We eventually are grateful for these shadows because we realize that they were fuel for a deeper and ultimately more centered peaceful and enlightening life experience. Health is the bridge that connects the shores of our continually evolving journey of consciousness development. Each person’s evolutionary motion is like a stone dropped into the waters, rippling influence to others and ultimately the shared evolution of all life everywhere.
BE the architect of your body-
the temple that houses your soul
BE the Tree of Life-
both flexible and persevering
that weathers the contrasts inherent to all seasons
BE a finely tuned instrument –
echoing your unique vibrant melody
through all ages
Conditioning the body to conduct the Chi necessary to power our journey takes discipline. In today’s fast pace world, exercise often takes a backseat to other seemingly more important(?) activities. While altering our priorities is very important, there are some fundamental body positioning practices that when adhered to, can make many daily activities like Standing, Sitting, Walking, Climbing Stairs and even Going to the Toilet into a very efficient daily workout that will enhance health and quality of life.
Body Alignment : Standing
Standing in a way that is relaxed and maintains an alignment of the body where Chi flow is maximized is an essential first step to optimizing health
A ) Suspend Head- refers to a simple standing posture that assures the optimal circulation of Chi while minimizing any wear that comes from bearing the weight of the body.
Seymour helping student to suspend head
Position the head as if being pulled up by a string from the highest point on the head. The chin is tucked slightly downward.
This lengthens the neck and creates space between the cervical vertebrae. Eyes are directed slightly downward past the bridge of the nose at about a 45 degree angle.
Tongue is resting on the roof of the mouth. Mouth is closed.
Shoulders are relaxed loosely hanging-this posture is similar to picking up a shirt from the collar. Everything below the neck drops in a relaxed fashion. Legs are straight without locking the knees. Knees are angled outward slightly to put the body weight slightly towards the outside of the foot. This keeps the weight supported by the most stable part of the foot-the outside. In contrast to putting weight on the arches. Head goes to heaven and feet go to the earth allowing us to maintain a suspended between Heaven and Earth, light and solidly connected to the earth position. When this position is done correctly, one will fee and grounded and light at the same time and the breath will more easily stimulate the diaphragm making the belly rise and fall on the inhale and exhale respectively.
Above, is an example of a man standing with an overly arched lower back which that compromises the Lower Back, Kidneys and Intestines. The toes out also risks misalignment of the knees which will be discussed later.
Body Alignment Walking: When walking it is important keep the standing posture as mentioned above. Take small steps leading with the Tan Tien 1-2 inches below the navel . Providing the head is suspended moving from the lower abdomen as if if someone is pushing you or pulling you forward will make walking completely effortless. Your feet will follow instead leading you.
Body Alignment- Sitting
When sitting all the above principles are adhered to. There is one important difference. When sitting there is no arch or curve in the lower back/ Lumbar vertebrae area. When standing is natural to have a slight curve in the lower back. This curve naturally puts some strain on the lower back and that is why we are drawn to sit or lie down after long periods of standing.
Note slight arch in Lower back. This will compromise Lower Back , Kidneys and also Large Intestine
This sitting position also occurs any time we bend our legs to crouch. Whenever we bend our knees it is essential to assume the “Tucked in” position of the pelvis.
This is a very natural posture assumed by all children and animals that for some reason has been commonly forgotten especially in weightlifting.
When the lower back is arched (pelvis NOT tucked under) when bending the knees, this harms the organs and tissues of this area. Tightening the buttocks or abdomen muscles will help for some for awhile.. eventually only harm will come to the body in this position.