Much has been made of proper breathing patterns while stretching yet athletes should not overanalyze a function that should come naturally and instinctively. Athletes should breathe normally and visualize the muscles, tendons and ligaments lengthening during the stretch. Since breath holding can increase blood pressure and general muscular tension, it should be avoided. Correct breathing functions to enhance relaxation while stretching, particularly when the exhale is timed to coincide with the elongation phase of the stretch. Of course, it should be intuitively recognized that it is difficult to maintain muscular tension while exhaling
Any great athletic performance seems effortless because the athlete has practiced and practiced until he has programmed his body for the appropriate response. He has learned to keep his mind calm and to relax while performing, thereby conserving his energy and assuring a longer and better performance. He is like a work of art, graceful and beautiful to look at, because he has achieved harmony between his body and mind. A great coach is the same thing. He has learned to teach and train his team with patience, kindness and understanding. He has confidence in his team and his coaching staff. He knows that they will do the best that they can, and that the game is not the time to change previously conditioned responses or to try to do a coaching job that should have been done in practice sessions. So he remains calm and relaxed on the sidelines and usually winds up winning. Of course there are coaches who become involved to a great extent and are also winners, but they cbn't last as long...
So how can we come to balance You have to bring your body to . 1 point between consciousness and unconsciousness, when you are neither awake nor collapsed. By practising Qigong you first reach a level of relaxation, then you come to the balanced state that will open your Prenatal Qi. At first you find your body relaxes. Then you become used to the exercise and you come to a point where you can do the movements without thinking -where you can forget everything, even yourself
And are also winners, but they dont last as long and generally pay for their involvement with ulcers and loss of friends and support. No one likes you when you are upset especially your own body. So lets practice a form of relaxation that takes only 3 minutes and can be as beneficial as 1 hour of sleep. Relaxation Technique, lie on the floor with the feet together and the palms face down on the sides of the body. Look straight up and do not move the eyes. This is important. Now take a deep breath, hold it for a second and
In tai chi. there is always a generous amount of space under the arms, leaving the armpits with an open feeling. Also, the elbows do not come into contact with the sides at any time, as shown far left. AH this frees off the chest ant rib-cage it allows you to breathe more easily and encourages the energy to flow more smoothly along the irms. Do not overdo this, though -we tire not seeking the gorilla' look here Yon simply need to adopt a posture of openness and relaxation.
In learning taijiquan, one should first of all start from the quan jia or frame of boxing he should practise according to the routines and follow the master's every movement carefully, and keep each action in mind. Meanwhile, he should pay attention to the nei, wai, shang and xia. Nei means using the mind rather than force. Wai means the relaxation of the limbs, shoulders and elbows, making the movements from the foot to the leg to the waist gentle and continuous. Shang means straightening the head, and xia means sinking the breath to the lower belly. For a beginner, the most important thing is to remember these points, grasp their essence and practise each basic movement correctly over and over again, never seeking quick success and instant benefit. It is advisiable to make slow and steady progress , for this will pay in the long run. In practising taijiquan, it is necessary to keep all the joints in the body relaxed, so that the movements will be natural and unrestrained. Do not...
A Deeper Level Tai chi has a strong mental and even spiritual aspect. It is not essential for you to explore these areas in order to obtain the wonderful benefits that tai chi can bring in terms of physical health and relaxation, but they will help you find satisfaction and enjoyment in what you are doing.
When using bone support, the sniper can relax muscles, reducing any movement that could be caused by tense or trembling muscles. Aside from tension in the trigger finger and firing hand, any use of the muscle generates movement ofthe sniper's cross hairs.
I have often been told and read that real martial artists think that training to make their forms and postures look aesthetically appealing is a waste of time that could be better spent doing more conditioning exercises or practising combative methods. Conversely, those who prefer the more genteel approach tend to argue that the movements should be beautiful, graceful, and that relaxation, sensitivity and a calm mind are ultimately more important than strength and athletic ability. Finally, those who choose to compete tend to argue that physical prowess and flexibility are at least as important as anything else. Who is correct
The person being pushed upon should imagine that they are like a child or pet that resists being picked up by going dead weight. Try lifting a 30 lb toddler or dog that doesn't want up. They suddenly feel like they weigh twice or three times there actual weight. That is because their relative relaxation makes it harder for you to find the stiff bits that can operate as the fulcrum for you to lever them upwards. Similarly, which is harder to lift 20 pounds of iron chain or a similar weight of iron plate
The Wu Chi position involves simply standing still. It is an opportunity to pay careful attention to the tensions in your body and its nervous system. At the same time it becomes a moment of powerful, deep relaxation in your day. Simple as it may seem, this opening position, correctly practised, holds the key to unlock the storehouse of your great internal energy reserves.
Of course there are coaches who become involved to a great extent and are also winners, but they don't last as long and generally pay for their involvement with ulcers and loss of friends and support. No one likes you when you are upset especially your own body. So let's practice a form of relaxation that takes only 3 minutes and can be as beneficial as 1 hour of sleep. Relaxation Technique lie on the floor with the feet together and the palms face down on the sides of the body. Look straight up and do not move the eyes. This is important. Now take a deep breath, hold it for a second and tighten the feet. Now relax and exhale. As you do, say mentally to yourself, relax, my feet are relaxed. Now take a deep breath and tighten the calves. old the tension a second. As you release the breath say gently to yourself my calves are relaxed. Take another deep breath and tighten the thighs. Hold it for a second. As you release the breath, relax the thighs. Three minutes of...
The key differences are the level of relaxation and consequently, the levels of muscle activity, In an internal system the level of relaxation is much greater than in an external system such as Karate. Muscle performance becomes more efficient when the muscles start from a state of relaxation as opposed to tension. It is easier for a muscle to go from relaxed to contracted, than from contracted to relaxed to contracted again. Energy consumption is also lower in the internal arts for the same reason.
KEEPING AN EVEN TEMPERATURE Don't let yourself become extremely cold or hot. When you go out in winter and summer, protect yourself from sustained exposure to temperature extremes. In summer, if you are very hot and sweaty from exercise, keep your clothes on until you can cool down naturally, wash, and change. Don't strip off and let all your perspiration evaporate in the air. When you are hot and thirsty, don't take ice-cold drinks. They may be pleasant in your mouth, but they are a tremendous shock to your digestive system. As a general principle, it is best never to drink them. You should drink liquids at room temperature or, for relaxation, hot water or hot tea. RELAXATION BEFORE YOU SLEEP Before sleeping, spend a minute or two massaging your abdomen. This brings many benefits to your digestive system and other internal organs. Place one hand over the other on your belly and make 36 anticlockwise circles and then 36 clockwise circles. You can do this standing, sitting, or lying...
1) Don't try to learn when under stress. Relaxation is essential, as stress causes athletes to perform erratically or poorly. Too much emotional tension or anxiety has a severe effect on learning new skills. Also, athletes increase the chance of learning the skill incorrecdy and doing it that way from then on if learning under stress.
B) If you can watch your breathing while concentrate on your whole body, you will feel as if most of your disappear or weightless and floating in space. At time stage, you will be rewarded with feelings of total relaxation and peaceful contentment. c) Make sure to turn your attention back to breathing to retain your full consciousness. Such state of relaxation and contentment can easily makes you fall asleep or enter a trance which are not the purpose of this practice.
Think of the most pleasant experience you have ever had. Take three deep breaths and as you exhale each time, count backward from three to one. This is a deepening exercise that enables one to develop a more contemplative state. Furthermore it focuses the attention on the breathing, which helps to elicit what some Boston researchers have described as the relaxation response present in all humans. Feel the relaxation in your body. Any sounds that you may hear do not distract you from this contemplation. If left to random chance, most people at this stage drift easily into a light sleep.
During meditation the mind must guide the Chi consciously throughout its circulation. Without the mind consciously leading the circulation of Chi, there will be no consistent or smooth circulation. It sometines happens that the Chi will pass from the Dan Tien into the Wei Lu without conscious effort, but the mind must actively guide the Chi for further results. Starting from the Dan Tien, the mind remains calm and fully concentrated only on guiding the Chi past the Wei Lu. This process must never be pushed. Simply keep the mind on the next cavity and let the Chi get there by itself. The requirement of concentration is one of the reasons why simple relaxation will only promote local circulation. For the larger circuits, the Chi must be guided by the will. If the individual has too many day-to-day worries bothering him during meditation, he should neither meditate nor attempt to circulate his Chi. Instead he should breathe deeply for relaxation. Attempting to Chi circulate while...
One thing that I noticed while studying San Soo was in watching Jimmy Woo, I saw that he was very relaxed and moved very naturally, but there was not much talk about how he generated his power. When I learned the internal my teachers went into much greater detail about the actual mechanics of body alignment and relaxation. As I progressed and met different teachers and got different ideas, I came to understand more and more about being able to generate power without effort and not opposing force with force. I think the keys are relaxation, correct anatomical alignment and using your mind to lead the movement of your body. Again, I always start with the Tru-Balance Dynamics. With the alignment and relaxation exercises. From there I teach various types of qi gong that I have learned over the years In Taiwan, such as Ba DuanJin il if - Eight Section Brocade), or Swimming Dragon qi gong. For people who want to build their strength I also have a whole set of Chinese gymnastic exercises for...
The essential aspect of meditation is relaxation. Medical researchers refer to this as the relaxation response. In the first phase the relaxation response is elicited to open the door for change the second phase is used to reprogram or rewire the mind with fresh information along desired lines the third phase is exploring the subconscious, group consciousness, and the process of melting away dualism. Let us remember there is no mind-body It's balance not muscle that allows the skilled meditator to hold a posture for long periods of time. In fact, some research indicates that meditation does not contribute to relaxation as much as balance and internal harmony. You may find the attentions of a chiropractor or massage therapist of some value in the beginning stages, and if you're a martial artist you'll enjoy their skills for more mundane reasons. Meditation that is done lying down is worthless for achieving the kundalini but can be useful for practice in deepening relaxation,...
To live the way during Peacetime, daily practice of shuriken is a method of controlling both the consciousness as well as the physique. The mental focus and concentration, as well as the physical and mental relaxation required for proper flight of the blade (as mentioned above in Philosophical Considerations ) affects the consciousness that in turn affects one's experience of reality in the real world. Thus training in shuriken is having an effect on one's life in this way. For it to have such an influence, the practice must be regular, and held with equal importance as other daily activities.
Many more qualified than I have explained the differences between internal and external martial arts. Suffice it to say that the internal arts develop and nurture qi through relaxation and a structure that facilitates its flow. There is not the reliance on muscle that is common in external methods. This reliance on structure, qi flow and relaxation almost naturally forces the practitioner to rely on principles as opposed to techniques for which external styles are famous. It is my opinion that a good foundation in the principles of fighting will allow any technique to work provided that it is employed naturally and no other principles are violated. A sound foundation in principles and a good knowledge of strategy will serve the student well when it comes to a real fight. What are these principles I am referring to
It is helpful to practice the movements of the Change slowly and smoothly at first, paying attention to the alignments and relaxation. The Single Palm Change should feel relaxed, smooth and comfortable. Once familiar with the form, the speed may be increased, as long as the basic principles are not violated. Look for an overall feeling of the whole body moving in a supple unit, feeling a wave of force moving up through the entire body.
With Taijiquan and all of the internal martial arts, we have ways to direct and concentrate the Qi without actually doing anything, or more importantly, not having to think about doing this. All we have to do is the training, that is all. We learn about how to do certain things in our Taijiquan. For instance, we might learn how to perform fa-jing (explosive energy) in order to knock someone's head off. Actually, we are learning internally, how to issue Qi, not to knock someone's head off, although we can do this very well. In learning how to fight using Qi, we learn how to heal and this is why it is very important for people to learn about the self-defence side of Taijiquan in particular. I say 'in particular' because Taijiquan is known to many as purely some kind of dance of relaxation etc, whereas the other two internal systems have a good reputation as being martial arts.
Eventually we came to the end of the form. I realized that I had scratched the surface. We went back to the beginning. I began to ask Ji more details about stepping and about the relationship of one arm to the other. It was clear that when he did the form the hands and arms worked in excellent partnership. Their spatial relationship in terms of distance was not easy to follow, given the nature of the movements. I chipped away at this in my own way. The T'ai Chi I knew proved a useful guide, and had given me a good basis in coordination. At the same time, I have always followed the dictum to find relaxation where possible in moving and as I struggled to understand the movements of the form this particular aspect was difficult. I stopped trying to string the movements together and went back to doing them repetitively, in isolation, to get the swing of things.
Same time, the lower level chi rises from the dan tien, along the spinal cord, to the area between the shoulder blades. When a person can achieve this technique, we call it unobstructed chi (the chi is able to circulate through the body freely). Everyone who practises the correct form of Tai Chi Chuan for a certain period of time and to a certain level may achieve this unobstructed chi . However, the beginner does not have to concentrate upon this breathing technique, but concentrate instead on the forms for the correct movement and postures. The only requirements for hte beginners are slow moevements, natural breathing, and a relaxation of the entire body. If there is too much pressure to push the chi to sink into the dan tien, it will head in the wrong direction. This may cause interstinal diseases or haemorrhoids may flare up. After practising to a certain level, we have to know how to breathe. If we do not understand the breathing theory then we cannot strive to attain the highest...
Hypoventilation makes the blood more acidic by diminishing the amount of oxygen in the blood. It is characterized by a sensation of heat which floods over the body. This also causes the heart to beat faster as it strives to restore the proper pH balance of the blood by circulating it more quickly. Hyperventilation is characterized by a chill feeling of cold, which permeates the body. It causes the blood to become more alkaline by altering the system with large amounts of oxygen. This makes the heart beat slower. Proper or Balanced Breathing produces a sensation of calmness and relaxation.
However, Qi is able to help one in the three main areas of martial arts, that of timing, coordination and balance and that's a great help in itself. The Qi mends one's body and mind and in doing so simply makes one stronger and able to use one's body to its greatest use, utilising all of one's muscular power rather than just the outer extremities of muscle. We gain relaxation through the practice of Bagua, another major pre-requisite for any martial art.
Went to work on my feet, and the lady in cotton brought me her shawl to use as a pillow. I closed my eyes, went into no-mind, and turned my attention inward to see if I could catch any of her skills. She stretched my legs out and started a little relaxation massage when all of a sudden these nuclear bombs of energy started to flow up my meridians to explode behind my eyes. I was lost. She had me. I hoped nothing too gross would come out in front cf this audience. I was semi-comatose when I heard her saying, What's going on How old are you I heard myself replying, Five, in a small high voice. Why are you crying she asks. I'm being beaten by my Sunday School teacher, I wail. She caught me eating the oatmeal paste and she's mad.
Meditation Meditation allows you to reorder your body and spirit and bring them into harmony. While this can be used for a myriad of esoteric purposes, such as relaxation and getting in touch with the universe, this skill use also allows you to heal non-lethal damage at twice the usual rate. The maximum number of hours you can meditate per day is equal to your ranks in the Ki skill. Meditation is not a substitute for sleep (meaning you will still be fatigued if you don't rest).
There are many places where you can study tai chi these days (advice on finding a school or teacher is given on page 141). Most towns have their own adult education centres, not to mention university or college campus. Tai chi is also being incorporated as a teaching medium into the programmes of numerous arts and therapy organizations. In fact, it can crop up almost anywhere ii is used in drama training, in holiday centres, in acupuncture colleges and on board ocean liners it appears in homes for the elderly, in hospital rehabilitation units, in dance studios, and in educational institutes to help those with learning difficulties - anywhere where people are looking for a means of developing relaxation, balance and a sense of harmony between body and mind.
Extending the limb with qi which is a basic method of practice. It must be noted that not all the movements were practiced with Fa-Chin and that even with the changes in speed the requirements for smoothness, continuity, relaxation and rootedness remain. Till today, it is still only taught as an advanced set (by only a handful of teachers) after one has attained a sufficiently high level of practice in the large frame. Normally, only when one has learnt the large frame and does it with Fa-Chin in it does one progress to the Tai Chi Long Boxing. It is relatively unknown but remains the advanced set of Yang Cheng Fu's Tai Chi Boxing.
Qigong makes this refinement happen in a number of ways. Some are impossible to analyse empirically. Some make sense from a traditional Chinese perspective, and some make sence from a Western logical perspective. My own gut feeling is that deep relaxation and quiet attentiveness eventually encourages both hormonal and attitudinal shifts in the body. For whatever reasons, taking chronic tension out of the spine, the muscles, the fascia, and connective tissues, and learning to quiet the mind creates a powerful tool for change.
We can imagine that the novice Buddhist or Daoist monk would be taught a very complete system of qi gong training in a well designed program which systematically developed the body, mind, and spirit of the individual and that the external environment was one which optimally facilitated this process. Qi gong practiced in the environment of a monastic lifestyle, combined with the proper diet, meditation, and herbal supplements, provided the individual with a complete and balanced development. Once the student had practiced simple methods which were aimed at developing mental and physical relaxation, a clear mind, and proper postural alignments, more advanced methods were taught. The more specific the qi gong practice became, the more carefully guarded the lifestyle, diet, herbal supplements, etc. The methods that were taught were prescribed individually. Each student had a mentor who groomed and handled that student's development according to that individual's particular needs. This is...
Breathing is both necessary to sustain life and vital in athletic performance, in relaxation and in concentration. If you don't believe me, hold your breath for a week, or try to sleep while breathing 70 times a minute. The best techniques of breath control in the world come from Yoga and its exercises. Chapter 9 Relaxation
If our waist is stiff and tense we will find it difficult to move in any direction and our coordination will be affected as we will be unable to transmit power from the waist to the actions of our arms and hands. If the waist is stiff, our bottom will jut out, making our balance unstable and preventing our movements from being graceful. Relaxation of the waist is essential
When you are familiar with the first two standing exercises, you will need to learn how to breathe and relax, as described in Chapter 2. This will give you the experience of simultaneous exertion and relaxation during the standing postures, which is fundamental to this exercise system. The curious sensations you are likely to experience when you begin the exercises are described in Chapter 3.
The muscle tone and efficient body mechanics required in bagua are relaxing in the sense that real relaxation is related to creating postural integrity which encourages deep abdominal breathing, and loosens and stretches the body's connective and muscular tissue. In traditional terms, this encourages the Qi to flow in an unimpeded manner throughout the body. In Western medical terms, rhythmic exercise, by the alternate contraction and relaxation of muscles, improves circulation and avoids or minimises the pain and fatigue caused by muscle tension. It accomplishes this primarily by dispersing accumulations of lactic acid, a by-product of chemical energy production in the muscles. It is also true, particularly for older students, that doing the form provides a weight-bearing exercise that can slow or prevent osteoporosis.
The Taijiquan form or kata (a series of martial movements) is the foundation of one's Taijiquan training. Without form, we would only ever rise to a very basic level of both self-defence and healing. All martial arts are great when we first begin training at usually a younger age. However, when one reaches 40 and has been practising his or her martial art for 20 or 30 years, we expect more than just kick punch Sadly, by that time it is almost too late and many who would be good at the higher levels of the martial arts, give it up completely. I know of many, who for the first time see a good internal martial arts instructor and break down weeping because they have wasted the better part of their life practising a purely physical martial art. When one's body begins not to work so well because of age, we have to have something else to rely upon to maintain our health and self-defence. I have so many so called hard stylists come to me after having trained for many years, saying that they...
As explained earlier in this chapter, the very first step in Zhan Zhuang is to train your body to relax. By systematically relaxing your body from top to toe you start the process not only of calming your mind but also of increasing the ability of your mind to focus on relaxation. In this way, although you are working, your mind is at rest. Even this can prove difficult to sustain for long, since your mind must continue to order your straining muscles to relax, and carry you through the initial stages of pain. Just thinking about relaxing can make you tense So, if you are having trouble in the early stages, here are some techniques that may help you. Try these while standing in the second position, Holding the Balloon (pp. 34-35). 2. Try standing when you are very sleepy - just before going to bed or very early in the morning. Your mind will be relatively dull, and as you stand still you will find that the whole exercise takes far less effort. Carry that feeling of relaxation with you...
Sit in a Full Lotus Pose, right foot sole uppermost on the left thigh, left foot sole uppermost crossing the right shin, locking it into place, on the right thigh. Relax the shoulders, straighten the back, do not lean. Close the eyes and empty the Mind. This is often difficult, but the purpose of meditation is to calm the surface of the Pool of the Subconscious. Human Beings see the reality as it is reflected in this magic mirror. If the surface is troubled, then one cannot see or think clearly. Thus the symbolism of the Water element. This will calm the mind, heal the body, and help you to see yourself inside. Clench the fists and place them on the knees, palm uppermost. This will aid in diminishing your thoughts and enable you to concentrate on the experience of inner energy. Take three deep breaths, imagining the numbers 3-2-1 with each as you count down to relaxation. At the conclusion of the third breath, imagining the numeral 1, swallow and place the tip of your tongue to the...
Modern students, particularly those who are desk-bound in their daily work, tend to have very tense shoulder muscles and a slumped posture. It can be very difficult to get them to achieve an active relaxation of those areas. Do not try to fabricate the feeling by leaning forward, forcing the shoulders forward and down, or sticking the neck out. Raising the shoulders and pushing them forward violates the traditional stipulation ba bei, where ba means to stretch and straighten, while bei refers to the back.
With gravity providing the downward stacking providing power from the root into ground. Proper relaxation of the musculature provides more efficient use of it resulting in a pliable strength rather than tensed strength. I prefer translation 'no tension' than the word relaxation which can imply limpness. Why is there a need to sung Very simply because if you don't the muscles are not able to work efficiently. Tensed muscles occur when the antagonistic muscle groups have in some way impeded the motion of each other, as such tension is the retained energy (inefficiency) of the move. This results in reduced mobility, promotes fatigue and reduced power. Jing travels through a strike much like a wave or pulse with relaxed musculature conducting it with no retained tension, much like a whip which has no tension but is able to deliver a telling strike.
Although the most popular form of this art in practice today is a form of meditative exercise (see the T'ai-chi general feat), T'ai-chi Kung Fu is considered the finest representation of Chinese internal martial arts to ever be created, and one that is still widely practiced in China, Hong Kong, and Singapore today. The primary philosophies of T'ai-chi Kung Fu are continuous movement, circular movement, relaxation, and that Ki moves outside the body.
In this section I have covered only a few of the easier punching techniques from t'ai chi. There are others of course but they should be taught personally. I have covered more than enough punches to cover any situation. Practice on a bag by yourself at first to understand about timing and don't go too hard at first. Learn about relaxation and centrifugal force. Then ask someone to throw a few different attacks so that you are able to try them out in a more realistic situation. Keep in mind though, that nothing will prepare you for a real fight. So just because a few of your techniques start to work don't become over-confident.
We will begin from a right guard posture, with the right foot in front of the left, the center of gravity more toward the rear foot. The waist is turned to the right about 45 degrees, with a slight inward pull at the front of the hips (photo 1). The right arm is extended in toward the center of the circle with the fingers pointing straight upward at eye level. The left arm is extended across the front of the body with the fingers pointing at the right elbow (the left fingers are separated from the right elbow by about a fist's width). The left elbow should gently press against the left ribs. The arms are extended naturally with a slight curve at the elbows and bend at the wrists. The knees are slightly bent. The eyes look in the direction of the right index finger. Be sure to maintain relaxation and a feeling that your head is being gently lifted from the crown.
The neck and the shoulders are the repository of a lot of the body's tensions, so neck rolls are the first step toward physical relaxation. I find neck rolls especially important if you are going to practice any type of grappling discipline where the neck takes a lot of the strain.
The following exercise assumes that you have managed to perform the initial mental relaxation exercises described in Chapter 2. It takes you beyond conventional thinking, and aims to achieve a perfectly quiescent mind. The inner commotion and noisy activity of your mind (the usual stream of memories, inner dialogue, and mental anxiety) is stilled and your mind becomes extraordinarily sensitive and alert. Reaching this stage is one of the hardest things for any human being to do. You are changing the fundamental behaviour of your mind it will be doing absolutely nothing. Check that your muscle groups are relaxed throughout your body. Even after several years' practice you may find that your relaxation is still superficial. Deep iayers of solidified anxiety and nervous strain have accumulated over the years. You may be only now beginning to get in touch with those tensions and you may start to feel strange sensations as they begin to melt. Just as at the beginning of your training, you...
At the very point when you start to feel the pain in your muscles, use your mind to tell them to relax (see Chapter 2). This enables oxygen-rich blood to continue to circulate freely through your system at an enhanced rate, rather than being blocked by tense muscles. It also triggers muscle fibres that have not yet been brought into play, and these help carry the load borne by the fibres that are approaching exhaustion. Until you have mastered the art of using your mind to control the tension in your muscles, you can reduce the tension by moving your mind from the pain (see p. 52). Combining this with the correct breathing and relaxation exercises already described in Chapter 2, enables you to hold any of the Zhan Zhuang positions far longer than you could ever imagine to be possible.
The structural alignment of the form is very important, as is maintaining relaxation. Sun style Ba Gua Zhang emphasizes a pulling in at the front of the hips which serves to maintain the connection between the upper and lower bodies and the ability of the waist and hips to control the movement of the body as a whole. This alignment, together with the gentle lifting of the head from the crown insures correct alignment with gravity and the ability to make full use of the inherent strengths of the body. If the buttocks are pulled under or the tailbone is pulled downward, the upper and lower body connection is severed and the ability to make use of the body's inherent springiness is lost. The shoulders remain relaxed downward and the elbows feel as if they are hanging. The muscles remain relaxed at all times to allow free and easy movement and the smooth transference of momentum through the body.
To make the distinction between this level and the preceding two, an element of duration is introduced. Concentration can be held only for a certain length of time, depending on the individual. At tile end of this period, it either becomes meditation, in which the gross aspects of the universe dissolve into their subtler components or the concentration is voluntarily broken. If the former occurs, the student enters a somnolent state, neither awake nor asleep, yet totally relaxed. One of the results of this relaxation is the diminution of effort and the progressive disappearance of the will. To relax is to passively withdraw into ourselves, to become one with the universe. This is sometimes known as a state of trance contemplation.
Also noted for his calligraphic skills, Wong sifu spent hours writing classical Chinese poetry as a form of relaxation and active meditation. His expertise in this area was outstanding, most especially considering the fact that he had left school quite early and much of his skill was self taught.
The essence of this practice and the deep source of its power is the internal relaxation emphasized by Grand Master Wang Xiang Zhai. You should regard the relaxation process described in Part One as the inner work that you need to accomplish in all the postures and movements throughout this book. As described in Grand Master Wang Xiang Zhai's poem in the Introduction to this pad of the book, there is an inner and an outer aspect to this practice. Ensure you are standing in the correct posture and remain completely still. Then work carefully through your body to release any accumulated tension in your muscles. You can guide yourself through this progressive relaxation using the outline on the facing page.
The focus of intention is the basis of all magic. There is one thing that allows you to learn the 10,000 things continually referred to but seldom explained in Eastern esoteric literature that is meditation. The type of meditation required to truly focus intent, however, is a step beyond focusing on a mantra or going into relaxation response. It is going into your self to awaken your true Self, which connects to the Universal. Internal practice is necessary to affecting the external reality.
The breath plays a very important part in relaxation because it plays a large part in the control of our body's reactions to certain events. For example, we have already noted that we could not run if we were not able to breathe fast and deep enough to supply the additional oxygen requirement needed by the body. When we are angry our breath becomes short and fast like when we are running. But when we are sleeping, our breath becomes slow and deep and relaxed and so is our mind. We cannot be breathing slow and deep and relaxed if we are angry. Just as we cannot be breathing slow and easy when we are upset. We breathe calm and our mind responds calmly, our muscles respond calmly. Your breath stills the mind and calms the nerves. So exercises have been developed centuries ago by people who understood the importance of the breath as a factor in self understanding and mind and body control. We will practice or study by practice, three of these methods.
Stillness is condusive to relaxation and the removal of tension to allow musculature to work in a coordinated fashion. It also allows the mind to be still and to train a relaxed focus without mental distractions, the relaxed body with efficient structure also frees the mind from bodily discomfort which can interfere with its efficient function. Breathing is trained to be smooth, efficient and with increased capacity through a relaxed body rather than one in physical tension which can constrict the torso, decreasing capacity and costing more in terms of energy consumption and increase muscular fatigue. This relaxed breathing is carried on into the moving postures of Taijiquan. A relaxed body without tension is also condusive to good circulation as there is no tension to restrict blood flow.
The four large central characters are from an ancient Chinese text. The first two literally mean stand there, with a sense of solitude. They point to the deep stillness of Zhan Zhuang, the practice that is the foundation of Da Cheng Chuan. Zhan Zhuang literally means standing like a stake in Chinese. To Western ears the idea of standing like a stake seems lifeless, like dead wood, so we normally use the phrase standing like a tree, This helps us understand that although we are not moving, we are growing within. Nevertheless, there is great significance in the original Chinese terminology because it directs our mind to the complete and utter stillness of the foundation practice. We train ourselves to rest in the Zhan Zhuang postures without moving at all, yet developing the discipline of deep relaxation.
During training, the crucial joints of the legs are worked very hard in that they are always bent more than in normal daily activities (sometimes very bent, depending on the style that you follow). In addition, the arms can rest at times, but your legs must always work while you are on your feet. Relaxation and sound posture (the knee and toes in vertical alignment) help the knees transmit the weight of the body from the hips to the ankles. It bears repeat
Visualization is the conscious action of forming mental pictures in the mind. These pictures can be used for learning, for relaxation and for improvement of skill of techniques. We shall discuss techniques for doing these things. Visualizations for Relaxation have you ever been to the Alps, or Europe, or the Queens castles in England, or the Amazon in Brazil Probably not, but in your mind you have because of the wonders of TV and movies. You have formed visual pictures of these places in your mind and it is just like you were really there. The ability to form these visual pictures can be used as a form of relaxation before sleep or to help you go to sleep and have pleasant dreams. Lie down and take a few deep breaths to calm the mind, now slowly let your mind drift over some pleasant thoughts and scenes like the mountains, the lakes, or the forest. As one of these thoughts begins to get clear in the mind, softly begin to linger there and to visualize yourself standing in the middle of...
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