Natural Steps Side to Side

It is usually easier to progress (literally and figuratively) using small steps rather than large leaps. Qi Dao teaches us to accomplish things with small, practical steps. All of our basic practices involve steps small enough to maintain full awareness and control of our motion. In just about any challenging situation we encounter in the practice of Qi Dao, we can proceed more gracefully with small steps rather than either freezing with fear and tension, like a deer in the headlights of a car, or recklessly leaping ahead. As with most Qi Dao principles, letting go of "fight or flight" reactivity can be applied throughout your daily life.

Tibetan Shaman

Taking a Natural Step sideways

Natural Step is a method of moving with small steps in the most efficient and quickest fashion. While in Natural Stance, choose to move either to the right or to the left using the foot corresponding to the chosen direction. Lift that foot off the ground without shifting your weight onto the other foot and allow the force of gravity to propel you sideways. Landing on the entire surface of the sole of the stepping foot requires keeping the knees soft and relaxed. After you softly land that foot on the ground, complete your Natural Step by bringing the other foot closer to the first one to resume a comfortable Natural Stance.

As you move sideways, also notice how you can observe the Symmetry of your body. This principle is particularly wise to observe when your legs are spread out sideways to any degree. Your body is Symmetrical when the angles between the axis of your body and the legs are the same on both sides of your body.

The principle of Symmetry is also relevant whenever the torso tilts sideways away from its vertical alignment. Slide your hands down your thighs to check this alignment when stepping sideways. For example, if your right hand reaches closer to the right knee than the other hand at any moment during the Natural Step to the right, it means that your body is tilting excessively to the right. Obviously, the same can be said for the left side, as long as your arms are about the same length.

When you begin exploring more advanced applications of Qi Dao, you will see that this applies to practicing certain kicks, too. As you raise one leg, your entire torso needs to tilt half as far to the opposite side for balance. This way, you can actually keep your head at more or less the same height rather than bobbing up and down while stepping or kicking.

Practice using this Natural Step sideways in the one direction, then reverse and travel in the opposite direction. I believe that it is essential to be equally capable of moving in either direction with the same degree of gracefulness. This movement requires no physical effort, but simply uses the gravity to move you sideways. Compare this way of covering the same distance with cross steps, leaping, hopping, etc. to find out for yourself which movement offers you the best speed and control.

Natural Steps Back and Forth

In your daily life, except when deliberately taking a Natural Stance, you are likely to find one foot to be further forward than the other. To take a Natural Step forward, simply lift your front foot off the ground without shifting your weight back and allow the force of gravity to move you forward. Trust your quads, the thigh muscles, which are usually the largest and strongest muscle group in the human body, to absorb the shock of landing. The muscles of the shins and calves are never as strong as the quads: therefore, landing on your heel or toes offers less shock absorption than landing on the flat foot and using your entire leg to soften your landing. Keeping your front knee sufficiently bent will enable you to land softly on the entire surface of the sole of the foot. Half-jokingly, I call it a "soleful step.*

Tibetan Qigong Healing

Continue reading here: Taking a Natural Step forward

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