Power Training

To begin this stage of your training, stand in Wu Chi for five minutes with your weight spread evenly over your feet. Then, shift your weight slightly forwards. Let your heels come up just enough to slide a sheet of paper under them. Focus your weight: it should rest on the red triangle shown on page 84. Include this new development in your daily training, so that you are able to remain balanced and stable without any weight on your heels. Progress to the point where you can maintain all the Zhan Zhuang postures, including those on one leg, using only the "red triangles" of your feet.

As you stand in this advanced position, you will naturally engage your large calf muscles. The next stage of this practice is to focus your attention on those muscles, particularly the large gastrocnemius muscle in the bulge of your calf. Try to identify it so that you are able to contract it for several seconds without engaging the muscles of your ankle, thigh or buttock and while keeping your upper body completely relaxed.

Once you have trained your nerves to contract and relax the muscles in both calves, include this in your daily training. Contract and relax the muscles in your [ eft calf up to 30 times, then do the same for your right calf. Then try contracting and relaxing both calves together. Avoid tensing any other muscles: focus your training on the nerves that control the muscles of your calves.

This training develops your internal sensitivity, exercises your nerves and sharpens the ability of your central nervous system to control subtle movements within your body. There is a similar practice for your hands. When you stand in the Zhan Zhuang posture, Holding the Ball (page 13), tighten your left hand into a fist. Squeeze it tightly for about five seconds. Then release the fist and open your hand fully. Stretch your fingers as wide apart as possible. Hold for about five seconds. Then repeat up to 30 times. Do the same with your other hand. When you practice closing and opening each hand, pay particular attention to your upper arms, shoulders and chest: these should remain completely relaxed. If you notice muscles in your upper body tensing, direct your attention to them and relax them.

These two mind-training exercises can become part of your daily practice. Gradually increase the length of time you spend standing with your weight on the "red triangles" of your feet. To the untrained observer. your feet appear f lat on the ground. but. as in this photograph of the young Professor Yu. you develop the pump that will transform your practice.

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