Train in this position until you are able to rest without moving for several minutes. Then, with both feet on the ground, push yourself away from the wall using both your shoulder and the tips of your fingers and thumb. Breathe out as you make this move.
This little push will move your whole body a short way off the wall. Repeat again and again until you are able to bounce back and forth off the wall. The instant your right shoulder and left hand make contact with the wall, relax into the contact for a split second and bounce off instantly. Breathe out each time you bounce away from the wall.
Repeat this exercise, practicing sometimes with your left shoulder towards the wall, sometimes with your right.
The Dragon position, and the posture that follows it, Holding the Tiger, are suitable only for practitioners who have developed a regular, daily practice and are capable of remaining stable in the postures already introduced in this book.
Before practicing The Dragon, which opens the energy pathway of the spinal column and stimulates your central nervous system, you must do the warm-up exercises that loosen your shoulders, hips and knees (pages 20-25). Then stand in Wu Chi for five minutes, working on inner relaxation and establishing a deep connection with the energy of the earth.
Swivel on your left heel until your toes point 90 degrees to the left. Turn your head to look in that direction.
Step forwards with your left foot, keeping your right foot firmly in place. The lower part of your left leg is perpendicular to the floor. Your right leg will naturally incline in the direction of your left foot and be straight with the foot flat on the floor.
Transfer as much of your weight as you can on to your left leg. Lean your torso over to that side, making a straight line from the outside of your right foot up to your left shoulder.
Raise your left hand up and turn it to press away from your head. Your right hand presses away in the direction of your rear foot. The fingers of both hands are spread apart. Look at the back of your right hand.
Feel the weight of your body balanced on your front foot. This is the point from which the dragon arises from the earth. As you relax, you feel the extension of your body as if you were coiling outwards. Your hands open into the air like the spreading talons of a dragon in space.
The full title of this posture is The Dragon at Ease. It is the first stage in learning the advanced dragon position, which must be done under the personal guidance of a master or authorized instructor. Since the basic elements of the advanced stage of this position are contained in The Dragon at Ease, it is essential to pay attention to all the details from the very beginning.
Your feet are at right angles to each other, with the toes of your front foot pointing in the direction in which you are leaning. Your heels are in line with each other. The knee of your front leg does not extend forwards over your toes. Your back leg is straight. The line of your upper body is an extension of the line of your rear leg. You can begin with a moderate stance and gradually extend it until you are much lower, as in The Archer (pages 48-49). Practice also with your left foot forwards and right foot back.
As you lean to one side, more and more of your body weight shifts to your front foot. As this happens, try to keep your forward hand as high as possible. It should be at least as high as your head. Your palm is turned out-wards and your fingers are spread apart, like the talons of a dragon. Your rear hand is level with your hips. The palm is turned to press away in the same direction as your rear foot, with the fingers fully spread. Your head is turned so that you can look in the direction of your rear hand.
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