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  • Writer's pictureJohn Blue

Black Snake Coiling around a Tree

Updated: May 11, 2022

This video is the 8th in a series of 16 that will explore each Snake & Turtle movement in a little more detail. It is a resource for beginners to learn the basic motions. Later, I will present more advanced methods of cultivation and deeper layers of skill that can emerge from this practice, step by step. Please take your time to study each of these exercises in detail, and only begin following my practice sessions once you've grown comfortable with the instruction.

Black Snake Coiling around a Tree

玄 蛇 盤 樹 (xuán shé pán shù)

Watch the video lesson:

Black Snake Loosens its Waist is a movement that builds upon several of the previous exercises. It is my favorite practice to give to someone who regularly carries a heavy bag which often results in neck and shoulder pain, spinal curvature, or an imbalanced gait. This method is a perfect way to heal that kind of damage.

Take note: You may enjoy pretending to be a turtle during this form, but please do not carry your house on your back!

Begin with a slightly wider stance than usual. Gently place your left hand against your lower back, adjusting the position to be comfortable. Don't allow your shoulders to roll back, your hips to travel forward, or your lower back to arch. Throughout the movement, use this hand to provide feedback about the relaxation of the muscles around your spine.

Your right arm softens long toward the ground. Continue around the circle, reaching your hand to the side, up above your shoulder, and finally resting your palm against the back of your head. Continue decompressing your shoulders and neck throughout the process.

If you cannot move your hands into these positions without discomfort or great tension, please do this movement without using your arms. I will provide several additional practices later in the series to help you soften these areas. If you need individual help at any time, please feel free to contact me through the comment section or via email:

Pulling gently with your right hand, rotate your head to look left. Allow the waist to soften and twist slightly to the left, but avoid turning your hips or knees. Keep your knees pointing toward your toes at all times.

Then, open the front of your torso and throat as though looking up at a distant mountain, softening your abdomen. Of course, if you are pregnant, please be extra gentle during any twisting movements.

Next, opening your back and neck, look slightly downward as though gazing toward the center of the Earth. What other areas of your body change shape as you round your lumbar?

Release your left hand to fall to your side, return your head to a neutral position, and allow your right palm to press gently toward the sky. Feel your neck and shoulder become free as your spine lengthens and your head floats upward.

Turn your palm downward and allow it to sink close to your body along the centerline. Feel your body softening along the path your hand travels, and then finally release it back to your side. Pause for a moment while your whole system settles.

Repeat the exercise on the opposite side until your body feels supple, warm, and these twisting movements become a bit more effortless. Always emphasize a restful practice and a peaceful heart. We do not believe that pain equals gain!

The Next Step:

Continue studying each of the Snake & Turtle exercises at a basic level until you begin a daily exploration of the entire series. Notice how the prior movements were helpful preparations for Black Snake. While performing this by itself during the day is acceptable, it's even more effective when part of the whole Snake & Turtle set. If you find any aspect of this maneuver difficult, please be patient with your body. Take your time, be diligent, and be kind.

Homework Suggestion:

Do you often carry a heavy backpack? A big purse? A musical instrument? A computer bag strapped over your shoulder? A toolbox, briefcase, suitcase, or heavy groceries? If you are overloading your neck and shoulders with weight regularly, you will likely cause yourself significant damage.

Your homework for the moment is simple: find another way to carry your objects. If you need a backpack, get a good hiking pack with a frame that places the weight onto your hips instead of your shoulders. If you carry a case, purchase one with wheels. People with heavy breast tissue should find reinforced support with front-closure & large straps to disperse the weight across their upper body. If you carry a heavy purse, get a smaller one.

Which overloaded interactions will you need to rethink? Please share them in the comment section. For extra credit, be specific about how you plan to solve the problem, and then write it in your practice journal.

Find a better way to move around in the world, and your spine will thank you! Happy training!

Remember that this is only a tiny part of a more extensive system and sequence of teaching videos. Subscribe to my channel to learn more!

Make sure that you begin your practice at the beginning of the sequence

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Yung Sahm

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