Snake Spirit Standing Up
Updated: May 11, 2022
This video is the 13th 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.
Snake Spirit Standing Up
騰 蛇 陸 起 (téng shé lù qǐ)
Watch the instruction video: https://youtu.be/kk2rBblIr1A
Earth Snake Rises is an efficient way to build the strength lacking in many people suffering from chronic pain. The kind of vitality that we want to cultivate is a liquid, whole-body, integrated stability. Contrast this with the stiff, restricted, unbalanced forcefulness often developed in gyms worldwide. We must enable this capacity gradually by following qigong principles. For example, never train an exercise that builds more tension than you can release. Within Snake & Turtle, we emphasize the development of softness and ease with every moment.
Stand comfortably with your feet under your shoulders. Notice how quiet your mind becomes while you are aware of your physical sensations. Feel your arms softening long at your sides. Leading with your fingertips, release from your torso, through your shoulders and hands, raising your arms alongside your body. Your whole body is lengthening gracefully as your hands press toward the heavens.
Imagine that your hands gather the sky as they descend in front of your body. As your palms pass close to your torso, soften sequentially down the body. Letting go and making space as your hands move toward the ground, settling and sitting through your hips. However, only sink your hands and hips as far as you can remain soft. When you find that your hips and legs are beginning to clench and tighten, you have gone too far.
People with very weak or arthritic legs may choose a seated or shallow posture. Don't worry. As your ability to be supple improves, your capacity to sink into a squatting position will progress.
Lead with the top of your head as you return to a standing position. Envision that you are gathering up the ground. Make loose fists as though you are pulling root vegetables up in a garden, lifting them to the level of the waist. Release the gathered vitality of the Earth behind the navel, and then return to a basic standing posture.
Continue repeating this exercise until your upper body feels soft & free and your lower body feels comfortable, warm, and full. Avoid doing anything to increase hip and leg tension, which will worsen back stress and pain. Finish & pause for a moment with your palms resting upon your navel.
"Earth Snake Rising" helps cultivate a proper relationship between posture, integrated movement, and gravity. Many studies demonstrate that back injuries occur because of activities like bending & lifting while lacking these skills. As you practice, do you notice the feeling of softness as it spreads down your body and how effortless it makes your motions? What happens when you disrupt your good posture and sequential flow? In that case, you will notice how much more tight and uncomfortable your body becomes. Pay attention to the accumulation of softness in your body, and it will guide you toward a healthier future.
The Next Step:
Continue studying each of the Snake & Turtle exercises at this basic level until you begin a daily practice of the entire series. All of your qigong will deepen and become even more interesting as you gain in skill. Eventually, this movement may lead to the development of a full squat and much stronger legs. I'm excited to see your progress through the system over time! Please share your steps along the journey with the community in the comment section.
You've learned how important it is to stay loose and relaxed during practice. However, cold weather can make it impossible for you to unclench whole sections of your body. It would be best if you stayed warm whenever possible, even your feet. Of course, this is much easier during the summer months than in the winter, so it's crucial to prepare accordingly. Please use warm clothing and heat sources, especially during training, if you can do so.
I also suggest experimenting with the application of gentle heat to your tight & painful body parts. You may notice a dramatic decrease in pain & stiffness. In your practice journal, you should write down which areas in your body respond to heat therapy. Sometimes healing really is that simple!
Please share your favorite tools to warm and relax the body in the comment section.
Remember that softness can lead to strength, and integration can lead to stability. 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
Ready to train? Follow along with traditional practice sessions
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