Fig. 3.99 Turtle—Front View
Your partner should not continue to push when you are out of breath and about to rest. Once you become adept in this practice and you feel your body's structure as one piece, you will feel the muscles relax and find no need for Packing Breathing. If you simply concentrate on the Chi flow and relax, the force will pass through the bone structure.
Change sides and let your partner push you gradually. (Fig. 3.101) The purpose is not to push you over, but to let you feel where the force comes from so that you can redirect the force to the earth. When the force is started gradually you are able to feel where the force is going, permitting you to re-align or relax that part to let the force pass through.
Always balance out both sides by having your partner push on both the left and right sides. Remember one side is generally stronger than the other.
Once you can successfully redirect the force from any part of your body, you will start to know how to reabsorb the force from the earth. The force that your partner pushes you with, when directed to the earth, can be reabsorbed back from the earth and becomes more powerful than before. This energy can be used for self-healing, or to counteract your partner's pushes. In the higher level, you can pass that force to your partner to heal him or her as well.
Fig. 3.100 Rooting practice during the Golden Turtle—Left side pposition.
Fig. 3.100 Rooting practice during the Golden Turtle—Left side pposition.
After each pushing, go back to the Buffalo Position. The chin is up, the shoulders relax, the hands drop down to near the groin area, or touch the sexual organs to strengthen the pelvic and urogenital diaphram energy. Breathe deeply to the groin area to strengthen the sexual/creative energy.
The Turtle Position strengthens the whole back and spine. When your partner pushes from the left, you feel the force go from the left shoulder pass the scapula to the spine, to the right scapula, down the spine to the hip, to the right thigh, the right leg and foot and down to the ground. At the same time, feel the sole breathing and "claw" down with the toes into the ground.
If the pressure is too much, the left foot will uproot. Push down the left foot by exerting more pressure on the hip down to the thigh and the leg.
Partners should be roughly equal in size, stature and strength for pushing.
d. Turtle/Buffalo-Front Rooting Practice
Your partner should place one hand on each shoulder and gradually push you in order to strengthen the frontal aspect of this posture. (Fig. 3.102) To maintain this difficult position, you must gradually feel the connection of the shoulders to the scapulae and the spine to the sacrum and the hips. Front rooting requires more practice. The soles and feet are very important to front rooting. With practice, you can maintain the feet's firm contact with the ground.
a. The Golden Turtle Immersing in Water (Yang Position)
(1) Place the tongue on the roof of the mouth.
(2) Practice lower abdominal breathing in a standing position.
(3) Bend forward with the back straight, bend the arms in close to the body, maintain the continuing line of the spine through the neck. and clench the fists.
(4) Inhale and pack to the navel.
(5) Inhale and pack to the middle abdomen.
(6) Inhale and pack to the lower abdomen.
(7) Inhale and pack to the perineum.
(8) Inhale and pack to the sacrum.
(11) Inhale and pack to the Jade Pillow.
(12) Inhale and pack to the crown of the head.
(13) Inhale and pack more along the back.
b. Water Buffalo Emerging from The Water (Yin Position)
(1) Exhale and regulate your breathing.
(2) Head and eyes should be looking up, but not straining. Keep the back level and extend the arms with the hands towards the ground slightly behind you or touching the groin area. Maintain the same back position.
(3) Practice lower abdominal breathing while focusing on the genital area.
(4) Close the eyes and gradually stand up. Put the hands on the navel area and collect the energy.
(5) Practice the Bone Breathing Process.
(6) Muscle Power Exercise.
The Phoenix Position strengthens both sides of the ribs, from the armpits down to the sides of the hips and packs Chi pressure into all the major organs. On the left side, pack, wrap and squeeze the Chi to the left kidney, spleen, left lung, and heart; on the right side, you are strengthening the right kidney, liver and right lung, (Fig. 3.103)
Fig. 3.103 Wrap and squeeze Chi into all of the major organs.
Fig. 3.103 Wrap and squeeze Chi into all of the major organs.
The Phoenix Exercise also exercises the fingers, toes, tendons and the tongue (which is one of the main tendons of the body.) You will also exercise the tendons of the whole body. The pinky fingers are small, but can activate many tendons, especially along the sides of the body.
(1) Assume the Iron Shirt Horse Stance. (Fig. 3.104(a)) Place your arms at your sides. Practice the Energizer Breathing to fan up the energy.
(2) Sweep the arms out to both sides and turn them over so that the wrists are straight. (Fig. 3.104 (b)) The palms begin to face up and are turned in towards the body as though you were gathering something up under the armpits. The pinky fingers are pointed up toward the ceiling. (Fig. 3.104 (c)) Feel the pull of the tendons all the way up the arms to the ears, circling the ears, and down the sides of the body to the small toes. The scapulae are rounded. The neck muscles and the trapezius muscles are relaxed so that the hands and the arms are connected. The elbows are bent out to the side.
(3) Inhale while you pull up the left and right sides of the anus and bring the sexual energy from the testicles/ovaries to the kidneys. Pack in energy to the kidneys and to the level of the adrenals which are located at the top of the kidneys on about the same level as the solar plexus. Bring the palms up along the sides of the body feeling the tension and the pull of the tendons on the insides of the arms up to the elbows, the pinkies and the thumbs.
(4) Inhale higher toward the armpits, pulling the sexual energy from the testicles/ovaries to the kidneys and up to the spleen on the left side and the liver on the right side. Hold and pack the Chi in the organs and then wrap the Chi around them. The palms still face up and the pinky fingers' tendons stretch toward the ceiling. Inhale and get closer to the armpits, pulling the sexual energy up to the heart, and to the lungs. Fill the lungs with Chi.
(5) Feel the whole rib cage and the armpits bulge up, filled with Chi. (Fig. 3.104(d))
(6) When you get as close to the armpits as you can (Fig. 3.104(e) and (f)), exhale while maintaining the contraction in the anus and the pull on the genitals. Rotate the hands medially. Face palms out (Fig. 3.104(g)), pulling from the scapulae which are connected to the earth. The forearms are straight; the elbows are back; the wrists are locked; the knees are open. Push from the sternum to C-7 in order to feel the force come from the earth up into the heels, the sacrum, the spinal cord, the scapulae and the hands. (Fig. 3.104(h)) As you push, extend your arms and exhale using the First Healing Sound, the Lung Sound "Ssssssss". (A complete explanation of the Six Healing Sounds is provided in the book Taoist Ways to Transform Stress into Vitality.) From the palms of the hands to the heels of the feet you will feel like one piece. This is what is meant by "structure".
(7) When the arms are fully extended (Fig. 3.104(i) and (j)), inhale and contract the middle of the anus and pull up the sexual organs. Feel the pull at the tip of the fingers of both hands. Gather the fingers to the thumbs and press them together in a small point by exerting more force on the pinky fingers (which should be in the middle with all the fingers pressed against it), and more force on the tips of all the fingers. (These finger positions are called "beaks"). (Fig. 3.104(k)) Feel the pulling force in the anus and in the tips of the fingers combine into a single force.
(8) Inhale, pull the "beaks" inward from the elbows and contract the middle part of the anus. (Fig. 3-104(l)) Feel the force of the anus and the sexual organ pull the "beaks" in.
(9) Inhale again, pulling the "beaks" closer to the body, further tightening the anus and genital area. (Fig. 3.104(m)) While inhaling, pull the elbows and the wrists near the chest with the "beaks" pointed out.
(10) Exhale as you open the "beaks", extend the arms in front of you and then spread the fingers wide apart. (Fig. 3-104(n)) Exhale, using the Second Healing Sound, the Kidney Sound "W0000000", and lower your arms in front of you, the heels of the hands leading the way with the action originating from the shoulders. (Fig. 3-104(o)) When the arms have reached the sides of the hips, lock the elbows, keep the fingers spread apart and rotate the hands laterally out to each side. Flex the finger tendons out, especially the pinky fingers and the thumbs. Spread the toes out, especially the small toes. At the same time, extend the tongue out as far as you can to the chin. (Fig. 3.104(p)) Direct your eyes to look at your nose. Feel the tongue and the sexual organs pull up as one line out to the tongue. Finally, turn the big toes and the heels inward, and then make the feet move towards one another by taking "steps" leading with the big toes and alternating with the heels until the feet come in together. This will exercise the feet tendons.
(a) Assume the Iron Shirt Horse Stance. Place your arms at your sides. Practice the energizer breathing to fan up the energy.
(d) Pack the energy in to the testicle /ovaries, into the kidneys, then into the spleen on the left side and the liver on the right side. As you continue to (c) ^ms face up and are ^med in towarcl tte pack and pull the energy up to the body with the pinky fingers point up- heart and to the lungs , you will feel the rib cage bulge up.
(g) Rotate the hand medially.
(h) Push from the C-7 by sinking down the sternum and pressing towards the back. Phoenix Exercise
(m) Side view of Pulling the "Beaks" (n) Exhale, Release the "Beaks". Press your arms against the front of your body.
(p) Sexual organs are connected to the tongue. (o) Front View of the Arms Pressed Down
Repeat steps (6) through (10). This time, however replace the Lung Sound in Step (6) as you push your palms out straight in front of you with the Third Healing Sound, the Liver Sound "Shhhhhhh". Replace the Kidney Sound in Step (10) as you are lowering your arms in front of you, with the Fourth Healing Sound, the Heart Sound "Hawwwwww". Repeat steps six through ten one more time. Replace the Lung and Liver Sounds in Step (6) with the Fifth Healing Sound, the Spleen Sound "Whoooooo". Replace the Kidney and Heart Sounds in Step (10) with the Sixth Healing Sound, the Triple Warmer Sound "Heeeeeee".
You should feel connected through the legs, spinal tendons, scapulae and arms.
(11) Spread the fingers apart and extend the arms. (Spreading the fingers enlists the use of tendon power.) Feel the force come out from the scapulae. Relax. Feel the Chi spread out to all the tendons of the hands, legs, and tongue. The tongue connects to the tendons.
b. Rooting Practice of the Golden Phoenix:
Practice the Phoenix Exercise and extend the arms out. Lock the elbows. Lock the wrists. Round the scapulae. Pull up the middle anus and the genital area. Open the knees. Feel that the palms and feet are connected to the ground. Have your partner use his palms to hit your palms. If you are well connected and are relaxing the muscles of the neck, you will feel the force travel to the ground.
c. The Lift Up Connected Practice
This exercise requires a locked wrist and hand with the shoulders and scapulae connected while your partner tries to lift you up. Be cautious because you can be hurt in this practice.
Lower the arms, shoulders and scapulae while bringing the hands to the sides of the thighs. Place the palms down, draw the elbows back, lock the wrists, round the scapulae, and feel the connection with the spinal cord. Have your partner put one leg between your legs, his palms turned in against your palms and lift you up. (Fig. 3.105) Find a partner who is your height. Make sure that you lock the elbows, the wrists and the scapulae; otherwise you can hurt your wrists or scapulae, and your partner will be unable to lift you.
b. "Beaks" Rooting Practice
Extend the arms and form "beaks", connecting the arms with the scapulae, the spine, the legs and the feet. Have your partner push the wrists, and feel the force transfer to the ground. (Fig. 3.106)
6. Summary of the Golden Phoenix Washes Its Feathers a. Practice lower abdominal breathing in a standing position.
b. Place your arms in front of your body with the backs of the hands facing each other. Inhale and allow the arms to sweep out to your sides, pointing the fingers towards the ribs, and pull up the perineum and anus. Pack into the fasciae on the sides of the ribs and pack into the kidneys. Inhale, raising the hands up along the sides. Pack and wrap the Chi into the liver and spleen. Inhale once more raising the hands higher and pack and wrap the Chi into the lungs and heart.
c. Exhale, keeping the perineum and anus closed while pushing the hands out at shoulder level. Keep the wrists flexed.
d. Inhale and tighten at the perineum and anus. Form 'beaks' with your fingers and bring them in toward the shoulders. Repeat twice more, raising the "beaks' a little higher each time.
e. Exhale, releasing the perineum and anus and lowering the arms while simultaneously straightening and locking the elbows and knees. When the hands are down with the wrists flexed, turn the hands out to the sides of the thighs and spread the fingers and toes out as much as possible. Thrust the tongue and pull up the anus and sexual organs.
f. Collect the Chi energy at the navel.
g. Practice the Bone Breathing Process.
The I ron Bridge is designed to strengthen the front and back fasciae. By stretching the fasciae from the pelvis to the neck and both sides of the rib cage in this exercise, you will greatly increase the flow of Chi between the fasciae and will tone up the front and back muscles considerably.
Arching the spine backwards greatly strengthens the lower spine, especially the lumbar region. By stretching the upper back and spine opposite to the normal direction of its curve, the backbend will help to lessen the often excessive forward curvature of the upper back, limber the shoulder joints, and open the chest. The point to remember is that the bend is from the upper back and not from the hip.
a. Iron Bridge Standing Position - Yang Position
This position will create a tremendous amount of Chi energy which will rise up the spine to the head.
(1) Stand, keeping the knees straight and the feet one foot apart. It is best for beginners if the feet are placed so that they point straight ahead along the second toes. If the toes turn out, there may be unnecessary compression in the lower spine, even if the knees are locked and the thighs and buttocks tightened. The thumbs and index fingers are touching each other and the remaining three fingers are held together. Keep the hands straight, low and slightly in front of the body.
(2) Begin abdominal breathing; exhale and flatten the abdomen. Inhale to full capacity. Bring the hands up and to the back, bend the elbows back, and place the palms up. (Fig.s 3.107(a) and (b)) Fingers should be about two inches apart and will rise close to the scapulae. This will open the sternum, activate the thymus, stretch the thyroid, the parathyroid, the chest and the side fasciae.
(3) Any accumulated tension in the chest and abdomen can be released. Hips stay over the feet. It is most important to arch the upper and middle back and not the hip. This will stretch the front fasciae. Excessive arching of the hip and lower spine can damage the discs between the vertebrae and pinch the nerves because of the excessive weight. Also, if the arching in the Iron Bridge is mostly from the lower spine, there will be much less stretching of the fasciae in the front of the torso. To keep the lower spine protected, it is necessary to arch the back strongly from the upper spine while firmly tightening the thighs and buttocks. By strongly tightening the thighs and buttocks, you can feel that you are squeezing the sacrum down, thus lessening the compression in the lower spine. The knees should be firmly locked and straight. This will allow the thighs and buttocks to be very firmly tightened.
(4) Clench the teeth. As you arch back, begin with the head. Rotate the head back from the upper neck, until you feel the front fasciae of the neck stretching. Do not let the head drop back as this is very bad for the neck vertebrae. If done properly, you will still feel that the neck is elongating upwards, even while it is rotated back. If there is any discomfort whatsoever; you are either practicing incorrectly or trying to stretch back too far.
Look back, locking and pulling the neck fasciae. (Fig. 3.107(c)) As soon as the front of the neck has stretched properly, you will feel an automatic lifting at the chest which, as it stretches up, will then automatically stretch the abdomen. As the abdomen stretches, push the pelvis forward, keeping the thighs and buttocks very tight. As you stretch the chest, feel that the breastbone is being pulled forward and up. In this way, the upper back will be arching, rather than only the lower spine. (Fig. 107(d))
If done properly, you will feel the fasciae being stretched from the groin up to the chest and the neck, pulling tight as a drum without having to arch very far back.(Fig. 3.107(e) If you are arching very far back, then you are inevitably overarching the lower spine. (Fig. 3.107(f))
(d) Arch the upper and middle back.
(c) Look back and pull the neck fasciae.
(e) Stretch is felt beginning at the second, (f) Excessive arching of the hip and third and fourth toes up the back to the lower spine can damage the discs. spine, and up the front until it ends at the sides of the nose.
If your upper spine is not very flexible, or has a large forward curvature, then you may look as if you are hardly arched back at all when you first practice, though you will still be able to feel a stretch across the front torso. Remember that no matter how flexible you are, you will not arch very far back if you are practicing properly. It is a good idea to practice this upper body stretch while sitting until you can do it well before practicing in a standing position.
Remember also that if you bend too much initially, you may fall back. In the beginning, have a partner look after you when you bend back to steady you, if necessary.
(5) Squeeze the thumb and index fingers together and tighten the muscles of the arms and shoulders. This will stabilize your position.
(6) Hold your breath and maintain this position for 30 to 60 seconds.
b. Iron Bridge Resting Position - Yin Position
(1) Exhale. Straighten up and bring the arms to the front, maintaining the hand position, and slowly bend forward from the hip joint. The head is down and the hands are above or touching the ground. (Fig. 3.108(a)) Do not force yourself.
(2) Adjust the tendons. In the beginning, do not bend too low and, for additional comfort, you can slightly bend the knees. This is particularly important if you are practicing rooting in this position. If the knees are locked back, there will be strain in the knees. lf you want to stretch farther forward, do not increase the forward curvature of the upper spine to do it. Stretch forward by letting the hamstring muscles at the backs of the thighs lengthen. (Fig. 3.108(b)) If you are stretching forward vigorously, or are not very limber, bend the knees much more while stretching so that you can lay the whole abdomen firmly on the thighs. Then, test your flexibility by slightly straightening the knees, while keeping the abdomen on the thighs. Practicing in this way will guarantee that you are only stretching the lower spine and hamstrings, and not arching the upper spine.
Feel the Chi flow down to the head and back and down the tongue. The three fingers of each hand are nearly touching each other and you can feel the Chi flow from the right hand's middle finger to the left hand's middle finger up the left arm to the spine, to the head and down to the navel. Stay relaxed until you feel the energy flow without obstruction. Some people may feel a certain vibration which gradually spreads throughout the body. Allow the vibration to occur for a while. Slowly stand up to avoid dizziness.
Maintain this position only for as long as you feel comfortable. It is quite strenuous and should be approached with moderation.
8. Summary of the Iron Bridge a. Standing Iron Bridge—Yang Position
(1) Assume the Horse Stance.
(2) Place hands at the sides of the body. Touch both thumbs and index fingers together, forming a circle. The other three fingers of each hand remain straight and touch one other.
(3) Breathe abdominally, inhale and look up at the ceiling. Arch back from the lower back, keeping the legs straight and the hips aligned over the legs to maintain balance.
b. Standing Iron Bridge - Yin Position
(4) When you feel you have had enough. exhale and bring the body slowly to a standing position.
(5) Bend the knees slightly in the beginning. Lower the head, and bend forward from the shoulders and chest, rounding the back.
(6) Relax the arms and allow them to dangle in front of you, maintaining the finger position with the fingers facing each other. Feel the Chi flow through each finger. If you can touch the ground, you can feel a certain connection of the Chi energy. Breathe normally.
(7) Come up very slowly from this position. You may feel dizzy at first. Stand still for a while, collect the energy, practice Bone Breathing and the muscle Power Exercise. Walk around, or lie down on your back and massage your belly from right to left to get your Chi circulating.
Additional Exercises: To strengthen the upper abdominals, do sit-ups with bent knees. The lower abdominals are strengthened by doing sit-ups with your legs extended straight out in front of you, although it is recommended that this, as all exercises, not be excessively practiced.
c. Standing Iron Bridge - Rooting Practice
Assume the posture. Have your partner push very gently. Remember that the main arch is in the upper back. Be very careful in this Iron Bridge Rooting Practice. Your partner has to be aware that it is dangerous when you arch backwards. The back and spinal cord are vulnerable to injury in this position. Be careful to apply pressure gently to avoid hurting the spinal cord or falling down.
(1) Yin Position Rooting Practice
While you are in the backbend position, your partner should put one hand on your back and one hand on your chest. (Fig. 3.109(a)) As your partner slowly presses down, observe that you can take the force only for a few seconds. Bend forward to rest for a while and then practice rooting in the forward position.
(2) Yang Position Rooting Practice
While you are bent forward, your partner should press his/her hands on your shoulders. (Fig. 3.109(b)) You push up from the lower spine. He/she can use his/her entire body to press down. In this position you are exerting more force on the lower back. This will strengthen the lower spine, especially the lumbar region.
(b) Yang Position Rooting Fig. 3.109 Iron Bridge Rooting
The Iron Bar practice greatly strengthens the front and back fasciae and thus makes the spinal cord very strong. The spinal column consists of 24 vertebrae held together by tendons, fasciae and muscles. Normally we do very little to exercise the vital spinal column. The Iron Bar exercise automatically adjusts all of the spinal column, strengthening it segment by segment.
a. Iron Bar Practice
(1) Place two chairs facing each other. Have your partner hold the chair at your head to keep it steady. If you do not have a partner put one of the chairs against the wall.
(2) Put both hands palms down behind you on the floor and push your self up on the chair. Put the feet and ankles on one chair the head and shoulders on the other. Fold the hands across the belly. Straighten out the body especially the lower back. With the toes pointed down and outward, you can feel a pull on the fasciae and tendons. (Fig. 3.110(a)) Make sure the lumbar region is straight, not bent. This will help to strengthen the front and back fasciae.
(3) If you initially feel that the Iron Bar is too difficult to do properly and comfortably, bring your arms back over your head onto the chair that your head is on. This makes it much easier to maintain a straight spine and is considerably less strenuous. As you feel stronger gradually increase the amount of force with which you are pushing down the arms into the chair. When you can practice without pushing the arms down at all behind you, you are ready to move gradually to the final position with the hands resting over the navel.
(4) Place both hands on the stomach and breathe normally to the abdomen. (Fig. 3.110(b)) When you begin to feel uncomfortable, using the hands to steady and hold the chair that the head and shoulders are on, lower the buttocks and feet to the floor. Sit up and place the tongue on the roof of the mouth and let the energy flow in the Microcosmic Orbit. (Fig. 3.110(c)) Do not stand up right away as you may feel dizzy.
(5) After you have practiced for two to four weeks, you can start, very carefully, to move the chairs further apart so that only the neck and head are on the end of the other chair (Fig. 3.110(d)) Do not rest the head only as this can hurt your neck.
This is a very strenuous exercise for the back. Do not attempt
to move the chairs further apart unless you feel very strong. You can step up training by supporting a weight on the abdomen. Again, work gradually. Eventually you will be able to support 30 pounds or more of weight. (Fig. 3.110(e))
(d) Once you are well-trained, you can move the chairs further apart so that only the neck, head and heels are resting on the chairs.
(e) In the advanced practice of the Iron Bar, you can add weight and still maintain the position.
Have your partner place one hand under your back for support in case you should begin to fall. With the other hand, your partner presses down on your abdomen slowly and gently increasing pressure gradually.
This exercise strengthens the lower back in the lumbar region and the psoas muscle.
10.Summary of the Iron Bar a. Put two chairs across from one another at a distance that will allow you to:
(1) Place the feet and lower legs on one chair with the toes pointed down and outward, away from you, to develop the most balanced alignment of force in the legs, particularly in the calves.
(2) Place both palms down on the floor behind you and the head and shoulders on the other chair.
(3) Maintain a straight back. To avoid stress in the lower spine while practicing, consciously tighten the buttocks and feel the sacrum squeeze down. This will lengthen the lower spine.
(4) Breathe normally from the abdomen.
(5) When you are ready, come down to the ground slowly.
(6) Stand up and collect the energy at the navel.
(7) Practice the Bone Breathing Process.
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