Did you know there are 5 main branches of Oriental Medicine that work together to help you live to 120 years old? One of them involves physical movement and exercise: In this blog I want to briefly explain how you should stand to elongate the spine and allow for optimum circulation! If you are having spinal/back problems, this standing technique can help you to open the spine, which allows for better circulation and stability to promote healing. Even if you do not have any back concerns, by standing and breathing in this posture, you will strengthen the spinal column and avoid future problems from developing. If done on a daily basis, the spine will align and stabilize and become much stronger and flexible than you could have imagined! All this just by standing properly!
What follows are the basic instructions for what is known as “wu chi posture,” which translates to “empty posture,” in the tai chi system. This posture will help you to regain a sense of center and stability that, unfortunately, can quite easily be lost!
Step 1: First, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Make sure both feet are facing directly forward and are not splayed outward or pulled inward at all. Relax. Find your center of gravity. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed and centered. Breathe! Try to breathe so that you expand your diaphragm and expand the lower abdomen when you breathe. This will help to build your sense of a center of gravity.
Step 2: Once you have found a reasonable center, with your feet shoulder width apart bend your knees slightly. The knees should not bend past the toes. Your knees should be in perfect alignment with your feet.
Step 3: Once the feet and knees are in alignment, make sure that the shoulders are aligned with the hips. This is a crucial point in this standing exercise. The hips need to be in direct alignment with the shoulders so the spine can straighten, center and open up. While standing in this balanced way, to help to open up the lumber spine and keep the hips in direct alignment with the shoulders, we have to tilt the pelvis. This tends to be confusing for some. Let me explain. Instead of having a hollow area in the lumber region that forms a curve similar to the bottom part of the letter S we want to straighten that lower S curve so that it is straight. This is done by tilting the pelvis up ward and forward. Imagine that you are pulling the two points at the front of your hips in line with your navel to wards the abdomen and you are pulling the pelvic floor upward. This motion will straighten and open up the lumber spine while you are standing in alignment.
Step 4: Once the pelvis is tilted upward, the lumbar spine is open and straight and the shoulders are in alignment with the hips, it is time to straighten the neck or cervical spine. This is done by drawing the chin in towards the throat. So in order to form perfect alignment and open the spine, we do not want the chin away from the neck, we want it drawn inward towards it.
Step 5: The arms hang relaxed by your sides. Now you should feel that the spine is in solid alignment. To emphasize this you can begin to use mental imagery. Imagine that as you tuck the chin in to straighten the cervical spine a thread is drawing the crown of the head up to the heavens and a cord is drawing you into the earth from your perineum or pelvic floor. Imagine your feet become roots and draw you further into the earth all the while this heavenly thread is pulling you upward. Play with this imagery and combine the stretching and pulling imagery with the breath. This subtle interplay will help to open the spine further and relax the spinal chord.
Nothing in this document is intended as a substitute for your doctor’s diagnosis and/or treatment. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.