The Zhan Zhuang system begins with two basic standing exercises. These start to build up and release the natural flow of energy inside you. The first position, a simple standing posture (pp. 28-29), enables you to relax your body in preparation for the other exercises. The second position, "Holding the Balloon" (pp. 34-35), is the key position in the whole system. It is essential to become thoroughly comfortable in both these positions before moving on to the exercises in Part Two, the intermediate level.
The simple warm up routines on the following pages prepare your body for the internal changes that take place during the Zhan Zhuang exercises. They are essential for beginners, because although the standing positions do not look strenuous, if you do them properly the resulting activity inside your body is enormous, and affects your whole system.
During the exercises in this chapter you may feel a little weak, start to tremble, or begin to tense up. But don't move: breathe naturally and relax. Use the time to notice all the remarkable changes and sensations in your body. Remember: standing still is not doing nothing, it is the exercise.
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.
Start by doing the standing exercises for five minutes a day. After three weeks, increase this to ten minutes. Three weeks later, aim for 15 minutes, and 20 minutes after a further three weeks. You can stand for longer if you wish, but 20 minutes will refresh your whole system. Follow the step-by-step advice, practising a little every day. Do not skip ahead: developing self-control is part of the training.
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