Snake & Turtle Join Their Qi
Updated: May 11, 2022
This video is the first 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.
View the video lesson: https://youtu.be/hLuBL6Nn89k
Snake and Turtle Join their Qi
龜 蛇 合 氣 (guī shé hé qì)
Turtle Standing in the Rain is a beautiful way to start any practice and a helpful exercise to use just before going to bed at night. Many people use this as their primary health practice each day. For instance, I have treated more than one patient who reliably uses it to control their hypertension.
Stand in a comfortable spot with your feet beneath your shoulders. Allow your feet to be symmetrical with your toes relaxed on the ground.
Slightly bend your hips as though you are about to sit on a high chair behind you. This release will soften and slightly unlock your knees and lower back. Avoid leaning forward or backward, to the left or the right. You stand naturally upright so that your hips are under your shoulders.
Your shoulders are centered comfortably, without pulling your scapula back or rounding them forward. The arms hang easily by your sides.
Soften your neck & throat, and feel how this releases the head and creates a light and free feeling. Feel as though your skull is floating effortlessly above the shoulders.
As your head is released upward, imagine light rain falling all around you. As it covers the top of your head, notice that the whole top becomes comfortable, and your mind becomes clear. Anywhere this rainfall touches becomes soft & relaxed, nourished & full of vitality.
This healing rain continues to wash down the front of the body. Feel it release the face, the throat, the chest, the abdomen, the hips, the thighs, past the knees to the lower legs, the feet, and then it flows down into the ground a meter below your feet.
Allow your awareness to return to the rainfall, and imagine that it touches the top of your head and quiets the mind. This practice intends for your whole body to become soft and release anything that no longer serves you. Feel the rain flow down the back surface of the body. It loosens your neck, the space between your shoulder blades, releasing the lower back, the glutes, hamstrings, the area behind the knee, the lower leg, the bottom of the feet, and then washes down into the Earth.
How does placing your awareness at the bottom of your feet and releasing weight into the ground affect your sense of grounding and stability?
Again, your awareness returns to the rain washing over your head. Quiet your mind. Allow your whole body to remain soft and effortless, standing comfortably and breathing naturally. If you find that standing is too difficult for you right now, try Snake & Turtle practice while seated in a chair. Observe as the rain flows down the lateral sides of your body. It releases your jaw, the sides of your neck, and the tops of your shoulders. Let it relax your upper arms, elbows, lower arms, palms, and each of your fingers. Soften your rib-side, the lateral aspect of your waist and hips, thighs, knees, lower legs, and feet. The healing rain carries any tension or stagnation away and into the ground.
One last time, return your awareness to the rain easing your head and mind, softening and opening there. The rain washes down through the center of your body. Feel it soothe your throat, nourishing the chest cavity, freeing the upper abdomen, flowing through the lower abdomen, pelvic space, and then down through the thighs, the knees, the lower legs, and the feet. Notice the rain flowing down from the bottom of your feet and down into the Earth, like growing roots.
After a moment, your awareness naturally settles between your navel and your spine. (A location that we will refer to as DanTian.) Your palms will follow this movement to your belly and then rest on top of your navel.
Pause in this position for a moment until you feel your mind and body settle. You might even notice your belly and lower back growing warm.
The Next Step:
Continue studying each of the Snake & Turtle exercises at a basic level until you can begin a daily practice of the entire series. While it is perfectly wonderful to practice this exercise by itself, it becomes especially beneficial when combined with the movements of the whole form. In later lessons, we will discuss this practice in greater detail as you become more fluent with internal skills, postural relationships, and the ability to let go.
For those of you suffering from high blood pressure, please do take the time to cultivate practices like this. Many studies show the effective nature of such preventative treatments. (https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.1995.1.263)
As a beginner, the most important thing you can do is cultivate daily practice. Decide to commit to doing some form of training every day for the year. Don’t worry! I’m only asking that you start with 5 seconds. Choose a time and a place to practice each day. Spend 5 seconds doing this Turtle in the Rain exercise, and then you’re done! This way, you can develop a habit of practicing daily without having to argue with yourself about spending time. After a couple of months, you will have made a habit out of consistent practice, and it will be easy to grow from there! When you feel confident that you will do the exercise without resistance, add 5 seconds to your daily training time. You can always continue with the form if you’re enjoying the quiet time, but you’re not forcing yourself. After a year, you’ll have developed a daily 30-minute practice with no effort at all! This method works like magic for those who have difficulty maintaining a consistent daily routine.
Thank you, and 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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