A tree experiences growth all over. New leaves grow every year. Twigs grow longer at their tips. Trunks and branches become thicker. The roots, too, thicken and lengthen. Zhan Zhuang training will also affect all parts of your body. This is partly because of the effect of the increased flow of Chi through the network of meridians, partly because of the strengthening of your cardiovascular and nervous systems, and partly because of the impact on various muscle groups. The Zhan Zhuang system helps you to extend the flow of your energy; it aims to fuse your whole being into a powerful, balanced force field.
The positions in this chapter help to extend the flow of Chi through your extremities. They are much harder to sustain for long periods than the exercises in Chapters 1 and 5. The exercises start to train you to be composed and stationary while standing with your weight shifted on to one side. The ninth position, at the end of the chapter, focuses your centre of gravity further to one side, with your weight rooted on a single foot.
Do not attempt the exercises in this chapter until you have become fully proficient at maintaining the positions outlined in Chapters 1 and 5. You are advised to attempt them only under the supervision of a qualified instructor.
Initially, you may have difficulty keeping still in any of these positions even for a minute or two. That is natural. Hold each position for as long as you can each time and slowly build up to longer periods as your body adjusts to the strain. Remember that you are growing from within - and that takes time!
The best way to add these new positions to your Zhan Zhuang training is to include them at the end of your basic standing exercise. For example, stand for 20 minutes in the second position - Holding the Balloon and then add two minutes of any of the positions outlined in this chapter. Then build from there.
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