Developing a straighter more elongated spine is the purpose of both the Door Hanging Position and the Structural Training Position Against Wall. In Door Hanging, however the arms are held over the head, which puts a traction on the spine and greatly increases spinal lengthening. (Fig. 4.8) Daily practice of Door Hanging for even a few weeks will lead to better posture, a more flexible spine, reduction of chronic back stress and a heightened awareness of natural structural alignment. Door Hanging will also help you to be aware of and control your psoas muscles, which are very important in many Universal Tao practices.
a. Basic Position
Roll up a towel and place it over the top of a door. Lean against the narrow edge of the door bringing the spine as flat to the edge as possible without discomfort. Follow all position details for Structural Training Position Against Wall, except those for the arms.
b. Lower Ribs/Middle Back
Maintain your attention at the lower ribs, and the middle and lower spine. Bring the arms overhead without letting the spine come away from the edge of the door. Feel that you are tucking the lower ribs in as the arms are brought overhead.
Grasp the towel fairly high, but with the elbows at least a little bent. Continue strongly to pull the shoulders down, and widen them to the sides. Do not hang from the towel. All of the body weight is still on the legs.
d. Shoulder Strain
If the shoulders are strained in this position, hold the towel lower to decrease the shoulder stretch. If necessary the elbows may be only shoulder height or even lower. If a towel is not long enough for this, use a thick rope. Gradually you will be able to hold the towel higher as your shoulder joints become more flexible. The first position of backbend exercise will help limber your shoulder joints.
e. Breathing/Full Spinal Elongation
While maintaining this position, practice breathing up into the chest, as in Spinal Elongation breathing or the Structural Training Position Against Wall exercises described above. Along with the traction of the arms overhead, filling the chest during inhalation will result in tremendous spinal elongation. It will not take much practice to feel your spine start to lengthen. As you feel this start to happen, after every five breaths or so, bring the pelvis and the lower and middle spine a few inches away from the door edge. This allows the lengthened upper spine to lengthen further down the door. Again bring the spine and pelvis back to the door edge and continue practicing.
If possible, practice from one to three minutes or longer. Do not continue if discomfort begins. Straining will not open your spine up faster; it will add more tightness. Regular practice and respecting your own limits will inevitably lead to very rapid spinal elongation and realignment.
g. Leaving the Position
To leave the Door Hanging position, walk the feet back toward the door and come straight up. Do not come up by pushing the pelvis away from the door first.
h. Full Hanging
If you are completely comfortable with steps a through g, you can end by letting your full weight hang from the towel. Gradually bend the knees and slide down the door edge until the arms are straight and holding you up entirely. All other details of practice are the same. Hold this for as long as comfortable, which may only be a few seconds, then come up. Be sure to continue stabilizing the shoulders by feeling them pull down and widen to the sides. Practice of Full Hanging is very strengthening and produces tremendous spinal extension, but must not be attempted if it causes strain.
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