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  • Writer's pictureJohn Blue

Free the Pivots

Let's get ready for the next phase of practice! We will be discussing the major movement centers in the body, and talk about what to expect as you progress.

Hello friends!

Those of you following the curriculum have come a long way! We are nearing the end of this phase, preparing to unlock more specific abilities. All of the following techniques will cultivate the principles we have been exploring. Without the skills and understanding that we developed, the later practices will only reinforce bad habits. So please avoid rushing ahead of your actual training ability. You'll only obstruct your own progress!

Through standing posture practice, we studied postural relationships, and through quiet sitting, we explored the possibility of a relaxed mind. These skills lend a form of stability that every technique requires. Soon we will explore mobility that compliments and expands upon this stability. If your body is frozen and imbalanced, practicing qigong effectively for health or wellness is impossible. So, to help you develop soft and supple movements, let's list the most important spots to focus upon.

Later, we will explore 18 major pivot points throughout the body in great detail. This video is a quick and helpful conceptual overview to learn them more easily later.

Some of these centers of movement are simply joints like an elbow or an ankle. Others are less obvious and will require some explanation to understand. I'll start by naming each of them for you. Please make an effort to remember them.

18 Pivots:

1-6:) Shoulders, elbows, and wrists.

7-12:) Hips, knees, and ankles.

13:) Neck

14:) Waist

15:) Chest

16-17:) The Buttocks

18:) The Rotational Dantian

Every pivot must be stabilized, set free, and integrated into the whole-body movement. At the right time, I will detail each individually and share a series of videos teaching methods for exploration.

Take a little time to explore the feeling of movement through your joints. Draw circles with your wrists and your ankles in every direction. Flexion, extension, adduction, abduction, pronation, and supination. Notice how qi travels through them into the hands and from the hands into the fingers. Most people are shocked to learn that they don't have musculature in their fingers. The gesture in the palms generates action in the fingers. This kind of interconnectivity is similar throughout the body, using various mechanical leverage and fluid support to express our intentions in the world. The body is amazing!

Next, experiment with the hinge of your elbows and knees, flexing, extending, and noticing its relationship with twisting movements. Notice how the motion can travel from the upper arm to the lower arm and from the upper leg to the lower leg. Also, notice the similarities between the elbows and the knees. These shared functions across the body will become important as they integrate and express themselves harmoniously.

Lift your arm and allow it to circle as you explore the range of motion in your shoulder. Twist the length of your arm down to your fingertips, and then roll your shoulder blade around your rib cage and a circle. Notice how these different aspects of the shoulder work together to express movement freely from your torso down toward your elbow and hand. Pay attention to the influence of muscular tension on your ability to express and enjoy these actions. Do you sense how relaxation around the joint allows the arm to lengthen toward the ground?

Similarly, flex and extend your leg at the hip. Then, rotate your leg, twisting it inward and outward gently. And, if your hips are loose enough, try rolling your pelvis around in a circle, tilting your tailbone in all directions, like in the snake and turtle form. How is this related to stiffness or inflexibility in your lower back?

For those of you who are exceptionally inflexible, or have surgical or congenital reasons for being unable to move, do your best. Be extra careful, and consult a doctor or other expert before trying these practices. Never use force or try to push your way through severe pain. That is not part of our practice. You might need to find other ways to open your body and harmonize your joints. Please be gentle and mindful. I love you and want only the best for your body.

Now check out the feelings in your neck. Try moving it in all directions, saying yes, no, maybe, and wobble with enthusiasm. As you release tension in your neck, do you notice how the contraction stops pulling it downward and shortening the length? It's as though softening around any joint allows it to expand and lengthen the limb. We call this "softening long," and it will become vital later in your training!

Let's switch to examining the lower back & waist. If you can, sit in a chair with the posture we practiced earlier. Turn your head and look to the right. Then turn your shoulders to the right. While staying vertical, twist your chest to the right. Now return to neutral. Notice that our navel isn't moving away from our centerline when we turn that way. We are only twisting our upper body and missing any waist rotation. When attempting to turn their navel, most people contort their hips or lean with their ribcage. Neither of those is helpful. Instead, keep your spine upright and your hips still as you turn your belly button. It may only move a single centimeter or even less. That's perfectly normal. Because much of this rotation moves through your lower back, the Snake & Turtle form is especially useful for softening your waist.

Most people have difficulty seeing the chest as a pivot. It's much easier to understand the folding of an elbow or knee. Instead, think of it more as a center of movement. For instance, what happens in your lower back when you rise and sink your chest? How does it affect your neck or your shoulders? Clearly, this area relates to the qi passing through the other joints that you may feel more confident about. And this makes it easier to understand that for the neck & shoulders to move effectively without inhibition, the chest must also become free. Eventually, it can even have a movement quality all of its own. Then the chest, shoulders, and neck all share the activities together, supporting rather than obstructing each other. When all of the pivots in the body unify, moving together harmoniously, we cultivate a genuine whole-body qi movement.

The final pivots are the hardest to describe and develop, so I will only mention them quickly. The buttocks are pivots requiring deep release of the hips and legs. Once the weight leaves your body and rests on the ground, your rear pivots are free to express qi movement through the legs.

The rotational dantian is the most mysterious and becomes the most crucial pivot in our body. If you observe my videos, you'll see my belly move as though it has a life of its own. When it first develops through correct training, it feels like you swallowed a basketball that rotates inside your lower abdomen. Not only can it connect and lead all of your movements, but it also conveys fun abilities that make qigong practice even more enjoyable and nourishing.

When I first began training with Master Zhicheng (

this slender older man effortlessly threw me around all over the place. His arm would barely move, and yet I could do nothing to resist his strength. He was kind enough to place my hands on either side of his dantian, and I was shocked to feel just how much movement could happen in this area. Nothing from a lifetime of studying medicine or martial arts prepared me for the experience. Our bodies are far more capable of subtle and powerful movements than anyone had told me. I'll repeat it, our bodies are amazing!

By setting your movements free and understanding the functional relationships between the pivots, you start a process of integration and deep healing. We will continue unifying the body-mind through softness and fullness, learning profound lessons about wholeness while cultivating our listening ability. These skills are imperative along your healing journey and will become second nature as you continue your daily qigong practice.

What's Next?

Enjoy the curriculum as it's laid out for you. Learn the next few lessons within this phase of your training and follow the advice there. They will help you to understand foundational concepts and key terminology as you continue. You must learn how to practice to avoid strengthening bad habits and destroying your chance to improve. Be sure that you review any lessons you may have missed before moving on too quickly. Bad habits are far more difficult to unlearn than new skills. Try to learn it correctly the first time.


Take the time to memorize each of the 18 Pivots so that it's easier for you to identify them in future lessons.

1-6:) Shoulders, elbows, and wrists.

7-12:) Hips, knees, and ankles.

13:) Neck

14:) Waist

15:) Chest

16-17:) The Buttocks

18:) The Rotational Dantian

Then, notice these pivots as you do your typical practice session. Pay attention to how they move, relate to each other, and where you might be frozen. Allow softness and your awareness to soak into your tissues in preparation for more detailed practice in the future.

In the comment section, write down which of your pivots will need the most work. It will help other practitioners know they are not alone in their challenges.

Allowing these areas to move regularly can prevent or heal many illnesses and pain. Remember the old saying, "A hinge that opens every day will never rust."

Continue eating well, sleeping deeply, and avoiding emotional drama. Remember that qigong is all about cultivating health and well-being. You must heal your entire self to progress. Take the time to do more than just change. Take the time to transform.

And enjoy your practice!

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

Thank you for visiting my site! Feel free to connect:

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