In order to get the most benefit out of qigong, one of the key things to pay attention to each time you practice as well as throughout your day to day life, is to notice what your posture is like in relation to spinal alignment. Most of us have adopted poor postural habits over time and this can impede the free flow of energy between our brains and bodies. We also may have spinal injuries, slipped discs or spinal curvatures which can result in pain. One of the benefits of practicing qigong over time is a better alignment of the spine and a reduction in pain and clearer thinking (watch the video or scroll down to keep reading).
Before beginning your practice, start with the below points in mind:
• Feet: Place feet comfortably together, flat on the floor/ground. Legs are straight; knees are relaxed and unlocked. Feel your connection with the energy of the earth through the soles of your feet.
• Pelvis: Tuck in your stomach; relax your lower back downward, thus elongating your spine, while the top of your head remains lifted. Tailbone drops and points downward, toward the earth. Mingmen (the energy gate on the spine between L2 and L3, opposite the navel) opens.
• Head: Lift up the crown of your head and pull in your chin to straighten the neck vertebrae. Feel your connection to the sky above through the Baihui, the energy gate at the top of your head.
• Arms and chest: Relax your arms at your sides, with a feeling of empty space (visualizing an energy ball the size of an orange) under your armpits.
• Energetic alignment: Holding this posture, strongly feel your alignment between the earth and the sky.
• Relax: See if you can relax into this posture without losing its power and strength. Allow your eyes to close softly. Smile inwardly at this new sense of energetic alignment within, and memorize this feeling so that you can return here easily.
It may feel unnatural at first-but rest assured, over time your body will re-learn good posture habits and it will have a positive effect on your life.
After a while of practicing this posture, try the additional instructions:
Once the above steps come naturally, you can add these two adjustments:
• Allow your tongue to rest behind your upper teeth on the roof of your mouth.
• Close the lower energy gate, called the Huiyin, found at the perineum (between the genitals and the anus). To do this, contract both the genital muscles and the anus muscles; draw up and in toward the center. (This resembles a Kegel’s exercise.) Hold briefly, then relax about 50%, to close the Huiyin.