Regulation of the body is also called posturization or adjustment of posture. It is especially important for the beginners of Daoyin or static Qigong to have a good command of this skill. In Qigong exercise, four basic postures may be assumed; they are: sitting, lying, standing and walking. Static Qigong usually requires a sitting, lying or standing posture, while Daoyin can be practiced using all four.
2.1.1 Sitting Postures
There are two sitting postures addressed in this text: upright sitting and sitting cross-legged.
Upright Sitting. Sit upright on a large, even, square stool. Place the feet parallel to each other at a distance as wide as the shoulders. Bend the knees to form an angle of 90 degrees. Keep the trunk erect so that it forms a 90 degree angle with the thighs. Rest the palms gently on the thighs. Bend the arms at the elbows naturally and look straight ahead. Tuck in the chin a little and let down the shoulders, drawing in the chest slightly inward to keep the back straight. Close the eyes and mouth. Touch the tip of the tongue to the palate (Fig. 1).
Sitting Cross-legged. Sit on something soft with your legs crossed beneath you so that the foot of one leg rests beneath the other leg. Place a cushion under the hips to raise them a little causing the body to lean slightly forward. Grasp the hands in front of the abdomen with the left above the right. With the thumb of the right hand, press Ziwen (located at the union of the palm and the ring finger) of the left hand, and join the thumb and the middle finger of the left hand together (Fig. 2).
2.1.2 Lying Down Postures
There are two lying down postures addressed within this text, lateral recumbent posture and supine posture.
Lateral Recumbent Posture. Lie down (usually on the left side but either side will do) and bend the trunk slightly. Rest the head on a pillow and tilt it slightly towards the chest. Keep the eyes and mouth slightly closed and the tongue against the palate. Stretch the leg of the
lower side naturally, bend the top leg and rest it naturally on the lower one. Place the hand of the lower side comfortably on the pillow with the palm facing upwards, and place the hand of the upper side naturally on the hip (Fig. 3).
Supine Posture. Lie on your back with the face upward and the neck straight. Place the two hands at the sides of the body or on the abdomen, overlapping one another. Keep the eyes and mouth slightly closed and the tongue against the palate (Fig. 4).
Set the feet shoulder-width apart. Keep the head straight and the trunk erect with the chest bent slightly inward. Keep the knees at ease and the arms raised and bent a little. Keep the fingers apart naturally, and hold the two hands close to the chest or the lower abdomen as if holding a ball (Fig. 5). The standing posture can be varied in several ways.
• The palms may be in front of the body facing downward (Fig.6)
• The palms may be overlapped in front of the lower abdomen (Fig.7)
• The right arm may bend in front of the chest with the palm upward and level with the acupuncture point Tanzhong (Ren 17), while the left hand is held erect with the fingers pointing
upward and the palm facing the base of the thumb of the right hand. This last position is called Heaven and Earth Palms (Qiankun Zhang gesture) (Fig.8)
Concerning the requirements for posture in Qigong, The Eight Annotations on Health Preservation (Zun Sheng Ba Jian) cites a quotation from The Book on Mentality (Xin Shu), saying "Sit on a thick-padded cushion, loosen the clothing, keep the back straight up, get the lips close to the teeth and prop the tongue against the palate, keep the eyes slightly open and stare at the apex of the nose." Although there are a variety of postures in Qigong exercise, the essential requirements are the same for all of them:
1. Loosen the clothes. This step is essential to ensure a smooth flow of Qi through channels and collaterals.
2. Image that an object is being supported on the head (called Suspending the Crown of the Head). This protocol helps keep the head upright, the chin slightly tucked, and neck lifted a little so it is straight and relaxed.
3. Relax the shoulders and drop the elbows. This should be done with ease, avoiding stiffness of the elbows.
4. Draw in the chest and straighten the back. The practitioner should not over-relax the back or lean it against anything.
Instead, the chest should be drawn in slightly which naturally keeps the back in proper position.
5. Keep the waist and the abdomen relaxed. The waist and abdomen are vital for proper training and guiding of Qi. The abdomen is usually described as the furnace for refining vital energy. The waist is the residence of the kidneys (the repository of original Qi) and the gate of life (an energetic construct between the kidneys) and is therefore an important source of Qi and blood circulation.
6. Contract the buttocks and relax the knees slightly. Contracting the hips helps to straighten the spinal column; relaxing the knees permits free flow of Qi through the Three Yang and Three Yin Channels of the Foot.
7. Keep the toes clutching the ground. When the standing posture is taken, stretch the feet and let the five toes of each foot clutch the ground to keep the body as firm as Mount Tai (as stable as possible).
8. Drop the eyelids (called Curtain-falling and Inward Vision). This name refers to a method of dropping the eyelids to create inward vision on the spot where Qi is trained or circulated. The book Yin Fu Jing claims that the functional activities of the body are influenced by the eyes; Miraculous Pivot the 2nd part of Canon of Medicine (Ling Shu Jing) holds that the eyes are the messengers of the mind, and the mind is the home of vitality. Eyes are of great importance in Qigong exercise. Curtain-falling and Inward Vision help keep the mind undisturbed, guarding against hallucination and distracting light. The eyes should neither be tightly closed nor left wide open. In the former, drowsiness may occur because of darkness and, in the latter, vitality may be disturbed because of too much light.
9. Close the mouth and stop the ears. Laozi (Laotzi) once said, "Close the mouth to shut the gate." Closing the mouth here refers to closing the mouth slightly without clenching the teeth or tightening the lips. Stopping the ears means to focus one's hearing to oneself so as to be free from outside interference (also called Inward-hearing).
10. Sticking the tongue against the palate (called Propping the Palate with the Tongue Tip or Tongue Propping). It is a way of placing the tongue naturally against the palate so communication is established between the Ren and Du Channels (two major channels which transverse the front (Yen) and back (Yu) of the body. In the course of practice, the strength of the tongue sticking against the palate will increase automatically, and the tongue body will be gradually pulled backward. This is a phenomenon occurring in the course of Qigong practice and should not be pursued intentionally.
When Daoyiti is practiced, adjustment of the posture, and hand manipulation methods such as pushing, rubbing, and kneading should be carried out with ease. Rigidity in movement should be avoided.
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