Sway the Head and Shake the Tail
Updated: May 11, 2022
This video is the 6th 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.
Swaying Movement Shaking Tail
搖 動 擺 尾 (yáo dòng bǎi wěi)
C.) Sway the Head and Shake the Tail
搖 頭 擺 尾 (yáo tóu bǎi wěi)
Watch the video lesson: https://youtu.be/NLMPoX3Jc8I
Red Snake Softens its Neck will leave you feeling bright & refreshed. Those of you with neck & upper back pain will want to spend extra time with this release daily. Many patients in my clinic who suffered from headaches or migraine mention this as their favorite preventative practice.
Place your feet in a comfortably narrow stance, as close as they can, while continuing to feel stable and relaxed. Allow part of your awareness to rest on the bottom of your feet, releasing the body's weight to the Earth. If you feel unsteady or nervous on your feet, you may choose to follow the seated version of the form, practice near a wall, or enlist the help of a confident-looking friend. You will find that you become steadier on your feet with practice.
Leading with the top of your head, begin making tiny circles with your neck. As you spiral outward, soften all around the neck and throat, releasing the head rather than tightening the neck. Maintain a feeling of length through the neck & begin to allow the movement to include the rest of the upper body subtly.
Observe carefully. Are you skipping any part of the circle or avoiding any areas in your body?
Eventually, change direction and spiral back inward to the center. My neck sounded like a high-school drum section when I first began. After a few years of practice, however, the movements became smooth & silent. Unfortunately, I carried the misconception that I needed to force my neck to pop & crack. This mistake is the opposite of the truth, so please pay special attention to this next instruction:
We mustn't press into difficult or stuck spaces using force. When you find a place in your neck that needs extra care, choose to move gently and slowly! Find a way through the movement that doesn't cause pain, excessive popping, or a big release. Never practice in a way that causes pain or adds stress to the body! Master ZhiCheng is constantly reminding me, "Fast injures. Slow nourishes."
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. This exercise is the last piece of a 3-part movement that creates spirals through the spine. If you are a person that spends a large portion of each day sitting, try this exercise several times each day, taking regular breaks from your seated position.
Begin spending more time in natural surroundings. If possible, find a forest or other tall trees to observe. Nature exposure therapy is a vital part of traditional healing methods, and its benefits are endless. To learn this particular exercise, watch how a tall & healthy tree moves in the wind. Allow those qualities to begin permeating your form. Unless you live in challenging conditions or are very physically debilitated, make a point of spending at least 5 minutes a day in a natural setting. It can become part of your 5-second daily practice and the time spent with your practice buddy.
You'll quickly discover how the wisdom of nature informs your life. 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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