Turtle Spirit Drinking Qi
Updated: May 11, 2022
This video is the 12th 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.
Turtle Spirit Drinking Qi
神 龜 服 氣 (shén guī fú qì)
The video instruction is worth watching! https://youtu.be/o6n_V7ETYDY
Turtle Drinking Qi will make use of the opening you have generated around your spine for decompression and is an excellent exercise to help soften the hips. Have you noticed that sitting in good posture is exhausting or even painful? I, too, had difficulty sitting comfortably because my hips & lumbar were too tight. Perching relaxed and upright on a chair was a challenge that left me sore. The obstruction that stopped my hips from folding needed special care to release. This simple movement was the key to finding ease while working at a computer and meditating.
Open your stance comfortably wide and place your palms on your lower abdomen above the hip crease. Imagine that you are a turtle resting underwater. Bend your hips and knees, maintaining relaxation of your glutes and legs. Soften your neck and allow your head to feel like it's floating upward, lengthening your spine.
Maintain the length and alignment of your neck & back as you fold forward from your hip joint. Lower your torso toward your thighs without rounding your back or dropping your head. By folding at the hip joint without collapsing elsewhere, you are asking it to soften open in a new way. Don't press into the tension once you have allowed the hips to open comfortably. We will only use the method of softness to restore flexibility. Release the breath naturally out of your mouth as you fold down.
Release the neck and back, allowing the head to hang and the upper spine to lengthen. Then, beginning to inhale through the nose, lift your head like a turtle coming out of its shell. Lift your chin without tightening the back of your neck or your jaw. Leading with your head, open along the front of your body until you return to an upright position without excessively arching your back.
Continue with this exercise until you find that your hips and lower back feel more spacious. Swallow the gathered saliva in your mouth, imagining you follow its path to your dantian. Pause to settle into stillness with your palms resting upon your navel.
While this is a safe technique, a person with severe hypertension should be careful about placing their head below the level of their heart. Practicing this in a chair would make the experience safer. Many people prefer the seated version of this exercise anyway.
Alternately, pregnancy or an ample belly would require care to avoid abdominal compression. A standing version with a broader stance may make that easier.
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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. Throughout your day, look for excuses to practice these new skills. When you lift your phone, remember that you can do it with or without excess tension. Can you remain mindful and enjoy the experience when you sip a drink? Sitting down, notice the shape of your hips and back as you settle. Further lessons will explore other ways to expand hip mobility and make sitting even more comfortable.
Many people suffering from back pain choose a seated job to avoid further damage. While this can be helpful, sitting for too long can also cause pain. My suggestion is to monitor how long you spend in a chair. Many of my clients set a kitchen timer for one hour each time they sit down at work. That way, they remember to move around for several minutes before returning and resetting their alarm.
Have any good ideas that you want to share about this? A favorite type of alarm or helpful app to keep you moving? Please remember to write them down in your journal and share them in the comments.
Let's inspire each other to keep healing. 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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