OK Qigong gongers we’re almost done! I can’t believe we’ve reached 100 days of consistent Qigong practice this week. Hurray! It really was helpful knowing that we were doing this discipline together. This kept me going even on those wintry Sundays when I just wanted to collapse on my overstuffed couch and read a good book with a glass of wine or cup of tea…depending on the hour! I hope you feel how the immersion of qigong has seeped into your body. Now I wake up and my body wants to get out and begin my practice and of course I feel so much better once I do. I’d love to hear your experiences. Please share!
Holli had asked me about stances and why they’re important. Qigong stances are the foundation of a practice. In fact when I first began my apprenticeship with Dr. Wang, he told me to practice 3-circle stance (in my book) for ½ hour in a deep modified horse stance before he’d take me on as his student. This was my first introduction to qigong and a grueling one! During the first 2 weeks I was nauseous with sweat dripping down my face (and I usually don’t sweat much). My thighs shook for weeks but at the end of 4 months I had thighs of steel and I was strong and focused. It was an amazing initiation.
To illustrate the power of stances, Dr. Wang showed me one of his Chinese qigong books where a qigong master was lying on a bed of nails with a platform over him with an orchestra on top! He was performing his dantian breathing while they played. He built his super human power by standing in hug the tree stance for 7 hours a day! Now I know most of us have no desire or time to do such a feat but it shows you the potential of a dedicated practice.
The stances are the best way to build your stamina and qi, increase immunity and also shift you into a deep inner calm and immersion with the universe. If you can’t do any other qigong, do a stance. “Hugging the tree” or “holding a qi ball” is the most common form that you’ll see in all types of qigong. You can hold your arms by your lower dantian to focus energy development there or hold a qi ball in front at heart level. Always remember to get grounded first, sinking your energy into the earth and then lift your arms into position. Relax the shoulders with elbows pointed slightly downward. Simultaneously imagine long taproots reaching into the ground from your feet while a cord reaches from the top of your head into the heavens. This creates a gentle spinal stretch. Stand and focus on your dantian breathing. Begin with 1-3 minutes and slowly build up to 15 minutes or more. There are different stances to achieve various outcomes. The awkward stance is the most difficult but will stimulate the liver, spleen and kidney meridians and help gynecological problems including cancers. This form will also build bone strength, increase circulation in the pelvis, strengthen the hips, back, and legs.
In luscious springtime I go to our local park and indulge my senses with the perfumes of lilac and spring flowers, breathe in the deep greens to nourish my liver and wash away any stagnation with the sounds of the stream. It’s glorious! I’ll write about qigong color therapy with spring flowers soon.
So go out and enjoy spring. Breathe in the birth of life around you and let your soul sing!