Wu Chi the first position

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All Zhan Zhuang training begins with this position, which is profoundly important. Even at extraordinarily advanced levels of exercise, we begin with a period of quiet standing in the Wu Chi position - the position of primal energy.

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.

It is a good idea to go to the toilet before starting, to ensure that you do not have to interrupt your stationary exercise.

Try to do your training outside, with your back toward the sun. If you can stand near a large tree with the sun on your back, this is the best location of all. Don't stand in the rain or fog.

If you're indoors, you can either use a quiet room or create a tranquil environment by playing a recording of softly flowing instrumental music.

MOVING INTO THE POSITION

Stand with your feet a shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward, either parallel, or turned slightly outward. Let your hands hang loosely by your sides and drop your shoulders. Imagine that, like a puppet, your whole body is hanging, suspended from your head. A string holds your head from a point at the top of your skull, directly in line with the tips of your ears. Feel yourself sinking down, relaxing, as you hang from the string.

Breathe calmly and naturally. Stand quietly, allowing your whole system to calm down, for up to five minutes. As you do this, mentally follow through the points on the illustration (right), starting at the top of your head. Study it carefully and make sure that you pay meticulous attention to all the elements presented in it. Return to these points again and again until you are able to assume the Wu Chi position naturally and perfectly.

Your eyes look forward and slightly downward.

Drop your chin a little so that your throat is not pushed forward. Release any tension in your neck.

Let your arms hang loosely. Drop your shoulders and your elbows.

Relax your hips and belly. Let the bottom ofyour spine unfold doumvardso that neither your belly nor your bottom is sticking out.

Stand with your heels at least a shoulder-width apart. Never stand pigeon-toed.

Stand with your heels at least a shoulder-width apart. Never stand pigeon-toed.

Wuji Posture

Don't stSm your Allow them to curve gently and remain slightly apart.

Unlock your knees. You can bend them ever so slightly. Make sure they don't stiffen into the fixed, locked position.

Inhale and exhale gently through your nose only. Your mouth should be closed, but not tightly shut. Don't clamp your teeth shut. Ifsaliva forms, swallow it.

Exhale completely and allow your chest to drop: this is the ideal posture.

Don't stSm your Allow them to curve gently and remain slightly apart.

Unlock your knees. You can bend them ever so slightly. Make sure they don't stiffen into the fixed, locked position.

THE FIRST POSITION

PRACTICE TIME At first, even this simplest of all things — just standing still for a few minutes — may seem impossible when you try it. Thirty seconds may seem like an eternity; five minutes may be agony. The boredom may drive you crazy. These reactions are simply the evidence of the constant tension in your nervous system and proof that you need this exercise. Zhan Zhuang has started to alert you to the confused patterns of energy in your body.

Zhan Zhuang
Master Lam in the first position.

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