When I first heard about standing qi gong from my teacher many years ago I thought I had miss-heard her. Up until then I had always thought that it was always done whilst moving. How wrong I was!
Standing qi gong or Zhan Zhuang is an ancient Daoist method that is found in all the internal arts of Tai Chi, Hsing Yi and Bagua. It’s a system that can absolutely transform your health and give you tons more energy.
In times gone by standing qi gong would traditionally have been practiced alongside other martial arts like Tai Chi however more and more people are practising it these days purely for its health benefits.
So what exactly is standing qi gong?
Well on first sight it doesn’t look like anything special is happening. However there is more to standing than you might imagine!
Try this standing qi gong basic exercise for a few minutes and see how you feel?
Basic Standing Qi Gong Exercise.
- Find a quiet place where you can practise undisturbed
- Begin by standing in a shoulder width stance.
- Become aware of your feet and the connection with the floor.
- Move your awareness up to your knees and check they are relaxed and open
- Focus now on the hips, pelvis and tailbone. Allow them to relax downwards.
- Move your attention slowly up the back, becoming aware of tensions that you might previously not have been conscious of. If you are able to release the tension. This part can take some time and practise to accomplish.
- Imagine a thread from the top of your head suspending you up. We want to encourage a sense of the head floating above the shoulders which will help relax the neck.
- Stay here for a moment.
- Now simply bring your mind down the front of the body. Bringing awareness to each part of the body as your mind passes through.
- Once again allow your mind to settle in the feet. Rest here for a moment and notice how you feel.
What happened? How did it make you feel?
Quite possibly it was challenging. Maybe you found it difficult to stay still? Perhaps the mind was on the go and very distracting? Maybe you became aware of tensions in the body?
We can train ourselves to become more internally aware on many different levels. The easiest way to begin this process is via the physical body. It’s the one most people have some sense of, although usually minimally, to start the work.
With more development we can then learn how to become aware of our emotional and energetic bodies as well. There are other levels but that’s for a future blog post.
This process of becoming more internally aware is very different from just visualisation. With standing qi gong we want a direct experience. We want to ‘feel’ more and more. This is very powerful and incredibly transformative.
So how do we begin standing qi gong?
The very first thing to address are the body alignments. these set the foundation for everything else to follow. Without a good understanding of how to align the body you won’t ever get the huge benefits that are in store for you.
When the body is optimally aligned this triggers a multitude of healing activities on so many levels.
We all come with a range of postural imbalances that affect the skeletal structure and the soft tissues. I have seen in practice so many people who have tilted hips, curved or hunched backs, raised shoulders and forward head positions as their default standing posture.
When we start to re-educate the body often it doesn’t feel normal. And you’d be right! Normal is what we have become. It is the habitual practice and embodying of what we most often do. Our muscles being very accommodating, will take the shape that we most frequently assume.
This is often not the most beneficial for our health but because we practise it every day…it has become “normal”. Stepping out of this way of doing things and developing a better body structure can feel abnormal because your asking your muscles to do something that they are not used to doing.
However with regular practise the body gets used to this new way of doing things and takes another shape. Soft tissues become more equally balanced on both sides of the body resulting in better posture and alleviating many of the common aches and pains we experience day to day.
Tension is a huge problem for many people. It can cause problems from the mild to extremely debilitating. This need not be the case. Standing qi gong provides an effective solution to this ever increasing condition.
Through training ourselves to become more aware of the subtle and not so subtle signals that the body is giving us all the time gives us a superb opportunity to change how we feel.
As we bring consciousness to every part of our body we start to feel an aliveness that we weren’t aware of previously. It allows us to consciously relax into every area that we mentally connect with.
The body mind connection is a very powerful thing indeed and still hugely underestimated and under-used.
As we tune in to the internal mechanics of the body we can learn how to make subtle adjustments that encourage better posture, deeper relaxation and further internal development.
At the beginning the muscles can quite tire quite quickly but you will soon develop more stamina and internal strength to hold the postures for longer periods of time.
At this stage you will start to notice a change in how you feel. For some people I have coached it is apparent almost straight away that they are more relaxed. One wouldn’t normally imagine that one could experience deep relaxation whilst standing but I am always delighted to see people who practice standing meditation discover a deep and quite profound sense of relaxation and letting go that lasts for some time after.
Of course with regular and consistent practice this sense of relaxation and inner peace extends beyond the practice session into everyday life until it becomes a continuous state of being.
This is the key to finding ones Center. Being Centered is quite a wonderful meditative feeling to experience and eventually to live in every moment.
It can be quite a journey to arrive there but the rewards are tremendous.
Can Standing Qi Gong benefit my health?
Standing Meditation has long been linked with Traditional Chinese medicine for it’s therapeutic effects. Chinese Medicine is most widely known and used for its preventative healthcare effects on the body and mind.
Zhan Zhuang also is best used as a preventative health care practice.Once you have become aware of the physical body you will at some point open up to experience your own energy system. The strength and circulation of your energy or Qi is at the root of good health. There are many factors which can interfere with the smooth flow of energy around your body. This can later cause blockages in your energy system which can affect your health.
By holding your body in the various Standing Qi Gong positions whilst making micro internal adjustments we can influence the way energy flows in our body and start the remove of these blockages. Balance will be restored and you will start to increase your level of energy quite dramatically.
You will radiate good health and robust energy.
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