One of the most wonderful Tan Tien Chi Kung exercises undoubtedly is squatting. It is so common and well understood in certain regions of the world relatively less affected by modernization. It is hardly noticed; yet now it is considered worthy of elevation to human "exercise". This position of squatting has been the position for humans to move the bowels throughout the evolution of human beings.
Since the beginnings of civilization, people have known the highly beneficial effects of squatting. Their bodies told them to do so and in this way they recreated a deep state of relaxation, in which the sacrum and spine open and the warm life current in the body regained its optimal free flow.
It is not incidental that this yoga position (in the original meaning of this Sanskrit word which means unity, connection, relation) is, of all postures, the one that comes closest to that of the child in its embryonic high energy state. Its capacity for energy storage and consumption is optimal while the metabolic rate is low and energy consumption most economical.
It is not by chance that the common people, to rest from their labors in the service of the powerful, squatted and the chairs and stools were reserved for the rulers and aristocrats who then could, at least while sitting, keep their feet on the ground.
More than any other posture, squatting opens the lower lumbars and thereby prevents hernia. Also it activates the latent motor force of the pelvis, opens the kua, flexes the hip joints, induces downward pressure and release of waste, gases and toxins for recycling in the ground and reactivates the colon. By the gravity pull it provokes, it stirs the earth Chi current to move and bounce upward to the perineum, to awaken the spinal fluids in the sacrum, open and elongate the spine, rebalance vertebrae and ease the Chi current upward to the crown and the crystal room.
Also the lungs and the heart get a massage, as external breathing changes into internal breathing while the Tan Tien helps the heart by taking over its pumping function for the Lower Tan Tien, facilitating and activating the Chi and blood flow.
It also significantly contributes to lengthening the psoas which shortens with age, through anxiety and as a result of too much susceptibility to cold temperatures. It is the shortening of the psoas which pulls the body over and out of alignment with gravity so that the up and downward pull is lost and hence the flow of energy upward and downward is slowed.
Hence the Tao Yin practice which focuses on restoring the original suppleness of the psoas muscle which is also called the "soul muscle" in Chinese is of vital importance. Obviously the soul, to grow, needs a well aligned body so that when the time for the transference of the soul, upward through the crown comes, it can count on a straight body, in line with the earth and with heaven.
By relaxing the psoas, unity between lower and the upper part of the body is promoted. A relaxed psoas makes it possible for the Chi to freely flow upward, connecting the lower lumbar with the lower part of the kua (groin). When the psoas muscles are relaxed, the earth Chi can freely flow from the legs into the upper body, in particular the spine (via the perineum and sacrum).
When the psoas muscles are relaxed, Chi can freely flow between the kidneys via the veins to the heart and vice versa. The free exchange between fire Chi from the heart to the kidneys (by which the kidneys are warmed up and the heart is cooled) and from the kidneys to the heart (by which the kidneys are warmed and the heart is cooled) is the basis of the balance between Water and Fire energy in the whole body and thereby the balance between Yin and Yang.
Squatting is also closely connected with togetherness. When people in communities not yet affected by modernization relax, they often squat together in a circle. It is also the ideal position in the field when at work, and work is alternated with moments of rest. It is also part of the realm of play and playfulness among children.
There are advantages in turning for a while into a frog or into other animals such as a tiger, lion, crane, turtle, rabbit, swallow, elephant, cobra, locust and so on.Through observation of how animals use their energy, the great masters, in their wisdom, invented these postures.
As the squatting position generates a state of relaxation and stillness, it is also a natural posture for meditative practice. One sees that in many indigenous cultures people assume the squatting position precisely for that reason.
Also, the sleeping posture which curves the body, while lying on the side and pulls the legs in, is close to this position. Obviously the subconscious counsels this position for its regenerating quality.
In many cultures, when people die they are laid in the squatting position as it resembles most closely that of the child before it was born and thereby is an unconscious expression of reconnecting the body with its original immortal state of being.
Squatting may perhaps be called Tan Tien Chi Kung exercise number one but let's guard against elevating it to the highest rank of exercise in any system. Let's protect its entirely natural character for those who are spontaneous Chi Kung practitioners without knowing it. Their body knows and the wisdom of their bodies, as they inherited it from the ancestral culture, understands the secret. Yet as the deep sense of Taoist practice is to facilitate and accommodate nature, it would still be just to see it as an exercise.
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