Diligent practice of Iron Shirt Chi Kung will lead to an increased flexibility and range of motion of the spine and other joints. As the body becomes more open, it is important to understand and apply the principles of healthy structural alignment in daily life. Since many of us have come from a background of structural randomness and distortion, it is necessary to learn what to do with our various body segments as our body becomes open and capable of new, more appropriate alignment. In effect, we must learn how best to "wear the body".
The very center of our physical structure is the spine and its foundation, the pelvis. Encased within the spine and cranium is the Central Nervous System, center of our conscious life. Thus, structural health of the spine is the foundation for the structural and energetic health of the rest of the body. For this reason, the basic structural exercises taught in this section focus strongly on the spine. Regular practice of these exercises will help heal any existing structural problems and tremendously enhance your Iron Shirt practice.
The structural exercises that follow: Structural Training Position Against Wall, Spinal Elongation Breathing, Door Hanging, Shoulder Widening and Backbend, develop a straighter, more elongated spine and joint spaces that are not cramped. The spine will retain its three normal curves, but these curves will not be as excessive as they are in nearly everyone. Attention to details will guarantee that your practice is safe, effective and progressive. Also, additional exercises (the Warrior Poses) that complement the practice of Iron Shirt Chi Kung by eliminating structural blocks in the hips and back, and by strengthening the lower body are described.
By applying the structural principles during your Iron Shirt practice, as well as in your daily life, you will feel the primary forces that are always acting on your structure. These two basic forces are (1) a strong downward rooting force connecting you to the earth; and, at the same time, (2) a strong upward elongating force lengthening your spine which connects you to the heavens. To attain balance and integration, both of these forces must be developed.
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