There are five basic Qigong standing postures that you will come across sooner or later in your Qigong practice. For a beginner, these practices can seem boring at first and may leave your questioning what their benefits are. They are also challenging and can feel uncomfortable not just for your body, but for your mind too. However, once you understand and feel their power you will know why Qigong masters practice them all the time. The postures are best performed after an activation and flow routine, of which you could start here with, then move onto the postures below.
Why is posture important in mood regulation and over all health?
The science of our body language reveals that the way we hold our body has very real biochemical cascades within, and therefore affects our mental and emotional states. Try being depressed as you lift your eyes and eyebrows up to the sky and smile. It is not possible to feel depressed in that moment! This is the body responding to the way you have just moved your body. In a study done at the University of Amsterdam which explored how postures affected the ability to recover from negative emotional states, the results concluded that posture plays a key role in how we perceive our world and the corresponding body language we use which reflect our emotional states. Participants were able to get back into a more postiive mood with more ease when they changed their posture to a more upright posture rather than stooped over posture.
Qigong takes this research further.
By consciously standing in particular postures which relate to the Five Elements, you can not only improve your emotional state through conscious relaxation, but also improve the energy of the corresponding organ that relates to the posture therefore enhancing vitality even further. Practicing these postures builds up, strengthens and tonifies the inner energy in the body. This is because the bones articulate in particular ways and allow for a certain amount of resonance in the body to occur. This has an impact on your emotional and mental state. The ancients knew so much that we in the west are only just beginning to undertand and we are so elementary at it!
The bank of the river.
Qigong mimics the motions of nature, and you can think of the Qigong standing postures as the ‘bank’ of the river and the flowing movements from Qigong routines as the water that flows within the banks. The postures ‘hold’ the energy in order for it to flow.
Postures and the Five Elements
Each posture is based on one of the Chinese Five Elements which is Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth.
- Metal relates to the lungs, so this is the first standing posture.
- Water relates to the kidneys, so this is the second standing posture
- Wood relates to the Liver, so this is the third standing posture.
- Fire relates to the heart, so this is the fourth standing posture
- Earth relates to the stomach, so this is the fifth standing posture.
The basic stance and spinal alignment
Spinal alignment is crucial when performing these postures. If it is not correct, some of the benefits will be lost.
How to do it:
Stand with your feet about shoulder distance apart with your feet parallel. Soften into your knees and drop your tail bone down and slightly tucked under. Feel as if you are slightly falling forward and then shift your hips slightly back so the weight falls more in your heals. Relax throughout your shoulders and lengthen through your neck with your chin slightly tucked under. Do not strain. Do very small adjustments and find what feels the most comfortable. We want to try and do the stance with the least amount of effort possible. Slightly open up your legs so the hips are more open. This helps the energy in the leg gates to open and flow. Your tongue rests gently on the roof of the mouth.
The Lung Posture
From this stance, bring your arms out in front of you as if you are holding a beach ball. Your hands will be at belly button level. Relax through the shoulders and elbows and breath deeply into your belly. Stay here for at least a minute. Shake off your arms and give your legs a shake and then stand normally and sense the energy flow within your body.
The Kidney Posture
Get back into the neutral stance and bring your arms back hands facing towards your kidneys. Ensure once again your spine is aligned (you may feel like you are falling forward a litte more with this one) and keep your shoulders and neck aligned. Hold for a minute, then relax.
The Liver Posture
As the Liver element is wood, this one relates back to a tree. Get into the aligned stance again and this time bring your hands up with your palms facing towards you as if you are once again holding a beach ball, but hands are at chest level. Hold for a minute then relax.
The Heart Posture
Open your hands in front of your heart as if they are shaped like a vessel. Pinky fingers are on the outside. Palms face up to the sky as if to receive inspiration from the universe. The heart relates to the fire element and therefore relates to our passion in life. How inspired to we feel? How excited about our life are we? Feel passion and excitement enter into your hands and into your heart as you stand in this posture.
The Spleen/Stomach Posture
The spleen and stomach relate to the earth element , so this time we face our hands flat down to the earth just below shoulder level. Make sure you are back in the neutral spine stance with your knees soft. Feel grounded into the earth and imagining drawing up the energy of the earth through your feet and hands as you hold this posture for at least a minute.
What do you think? Do these postures seem boring at first glance? If so, you’d be best to follow along with a dvd which incorporates an activation of the energy and then a flow routine so you get the most benefit out of the stnading postures. Have a look at this website to see my recommended beginner qigong program.