Whether one is student or an expert, practice is essential. A practice session can be fruitless, however, if the body is not properly prepared to handle the energy it is about to absorb. This is the main reason for these additional Iron Shirt training exercises. The term "warm-up" means to begin the Chi and blood flow and invigorate their circulation throughout the body. Warm-up exercises are particularly important for areas of the body that are rarely stretched, such as the spine and the sacrum. Even a person who does weight training and aerobics is still not properly prepared for the conduction of large amounts of energy. Without an adequate warm-up before exercise, the muscles may also be stiff and tight and lack sufficient blood supply to meet the sudden demands placed on them by strenuous activity. This is one major cause of athletic injury.
They are also easy to perform. Listen to the messages from your body as you do the various exercises. Pain is the body's warning signal that you may be overdoing it. The goal is not to overstretch or to develop large muscles, but to loosen the joints and relax the muscles so that the Chi and blood can flow without obstruction. Don't force yourself beyond your limits: less is better, especially at the beginning. If you feel any joint pain or discomfort while doing any of the exercises, back off until you feel comfortable. If you still feel strain or pain, discontinue the exercise all together.
Be especially respectful of any injuries, chronic problems, or physical limitations you may have. If you are kind and gentle to your body, it will start to trust you and relax by itself. You will find yourself starting to loosen on a deeper level without having to force the issue. In this way, you will develop naturally, gradually, and safely. In Iron Shirt Chi Kung, you learn to reorganize the structure of your body in the way you are standing, sitting or moving. In particular, you discover how to use the power of the Lower Tan Tien, the perineum and the spine to stand in a strong, stable, integrated way.You will see that many warm-up movements focus on training the waist for this reason.
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