“When the ancient Masters said,
‘If you want to be given everything,
give everything up,’ they weren’t using empty phrases.
Only in living by the Tao can you be truly yourself.
Tao Te Ching, #22 Translated by S. Mitchell
Healing T’ai Chi Exercise #32
Because the trunk is the center of the body, it is critical to stretch the muscles in that area every day, particularly before practicing your other T’ai Chi exercises. Otherwise your trunk muscles will be tense and compressed throughout all the exercises. Unlike the previous exercise, you will be using standard breathing rather than reverse breathing. That is, when you inhale, you are stretching your diaphragm. When you exhale, tighten your abdominal muscles. Though somewhat similar, each exercise has a different target area and purpose.
Start each exercise session with the previously posted breathing and relaxing exercises such as Clearing the Mind and Clearing the Emotions. Also include the Stimulating Ch’i and Lifting Ch’i movements from previous postings. And, finally, stretch your torso as described below. Now, you’re ready to gain the maximum benefit from the rest of your session.
This is the first in a series of Torso Stretches. We will continue this series in subsequent postings.
Benefits – This exercise will stretch the muscles in the center of your body and will open up your pathways for the ch’i to flow freely and effectively throughout your system.
Posture – Sit as usual with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Tuck your hips under you to allow the energy to move up and down your spine.
Breathe in slowly as you interlace your hands and lift them above your head, palms facing the ceiling.
Breathe out, leaving your hands in place. Take at least 3 breaths while your hands remain above your head.
Return your hands to your lap and repeat again stretching upward (without straining) a little more on each breathing set. Repeat for 6 sets if you can manage without overstraining your arms or trunk.
Sit in your usual position. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breath as you hold your finger on the Sea of Tranquility point.
Locate this pressure point by measuring 3 thumb widths up from the base of your breastbone.
Hold your finger at this point for at least 60 seconds, breathing slowly and deeply.
Benefits: This point is very effective for stimulating your immune system, regulating your thymus gland and relieving anxiety and depression. Use as often as necessary.
Don’t forget to drink water at the end of your exercise session or any time you begin to feel thirsty. A Word of Caution…If you have or have had problems with your kidneys, please consult your physician regarding the amount of water appropriate for your condition.
~The exercises in this blog are intended for educational purposes only. Always consult with your health care provider before beginning a new exercise program.~
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