White Snake Flicks its Tongue
Updated: May 11, 2022
This video is the 9th 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.
White Snake Flicks its Tongue
白 蛇 吐 信 (bái shé tǔ xìn)
Check out the video instruction: https://youtu.be/WKuAEpa5vDk
White Snake Opens its Chest causes the most confusion among my brand-new students. They tend to overthink it and have trouble with coordination. Of course, when I first began, I somehow managed to punch myself in the face, so I understand the difficulty! My only request is that you finish the movements feeling softer and more expansive than when you began. This practice emphasizes a wonderfully fluid movement of the scapula, chest, and abdomen. At first, until we learn to release the resistance that is freezing our body, the exercise can feel like hard work. Studies show that weakness and stiffness result from a loss of postural relationships. Go slowly, continuously becoming a bit softer than you think is possible. White Snake will strengthen and set free many critical postural muscles and change how you move in the world.
Place one foot in front of your body and adjust your stance to feel stable and balanced. As usual, your hips remain gently bent as though sitting, which will unlock your lower back, pelvis, and knees. Avoid leaning backward or forward at any point.
Allow one arm to soften long toward the ground. Then continue around the circle to a point in front of your chest. Your hand floats comfortably in front of you as though holding a glass of water. Can you feel how the movement opens your upper back as your hand lengthens away from the shoulder?
Then let your hand fall back down, around the circle, to rest in front of your hips. Don't allow your pelvis or knees to twist during the movement, which primarily comes through the torso. In fact, the technique comes from an ancient style called "Through the Back" Boxing.
On the back of your opposite hand, locate the muscle between the thumb and index fingers. (We call this area the tiger's mouth.) Place it against your lower abdomen, keeping your shoulder as soft as possible. Slide that hand up to the base of your throat, and notice how the movement opens your chest. What happens to your breath as you make more space in your torso?
After softening-long through your chest and shoulder, glide the hand back down to your lower abdomen. Allow the descending hand to massage & relax your torso while the head and neck continue to feel buoyant. Larger-bodied people may find it awkward to reach their hand up and down their torso while maintaining good posture. Never sacrifice the principles of alignment and ease to force your movements to look like mine. Our bodies are all unique. Always use the exercise to cultivate peace and the unwinding of our tension.
Repeat the movement by allowing your hands to trade places back and forth. Continue until your shoulder blades move more smoothly and your upper body feels soft & warm. You may also exchange which foot is in front and repeat the entire sequence. As usual, take some time at the end of the practice to settle your hands and awareness onto the navel. Cultivating deep stillness is always of utmost importance in our healing process.
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. Future videos will explore how to soften the relationship between the abdomen and chest and release the shoulder blades down your back. Study the instructions with these activities until you understand the practice and perform them independently. If you worry about how fast you learn, try to clear any attachments to a specific outcome. The goal is progress, not perfection. Find ways to enjoy your time exploring the system and perhaps to take yourself a bit less seriously.
Do one thing to make your daily practice routine easier. Be creative. For instance:
If you practice outside each day, buy the proper clothing that keeps you comfortable. You also might benefit from bug-repellant or mosquito netting.
For inside practice, do one thing to make the space even more enjoyable. Perhaps a cozy rug to stand on, incense to enjoy, or a heater to keep you warm.
Very busy people might benefit from a "do not disturb" sign on their door or noise-canceling headphones.
Chronic pain sufferers might benefit from a mild dose of a pain killer. It can help during this initial process of opening a very rigid body. Hopefully, you won't require them for long.
If you are working with the seated version of Snake & Turtle, it's essential to find a comfortable stool that is appropriately sized and allows you a full range of movement.
Every single day, I enjoy having a hot cup of tea while I'm practicing outdoors in a beautiful location, wearing comfortable clothing, and sometimes listening to jazz. After all, this is supposed to be a pleasant experience. You, too, deserve the chance to enjoy your moment of healing and transformation.
Whatever you decide to do for your practice, write it down in the journal along with exactly how, when, and where you'll make it happen. The more specific you are, the more likely it is to occur. Also, if you are feeling brave or generous, please share it in the comment section.
Developing a delightful routine will make it more likely for you to heal! 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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