Monday, 12 March 2012

Stress Management - "Root"

Famous Yiquan Master Yao Chenguang


     Martial arts can be so effective against stress!

     Take, for example, the concept of “root”. It’s used in such martial arts as I Chuan and Tai Chi. After you practise “root” for a while you begin to feel as though you have roots in the ground, like a tree. Physically, and psychologically, you develop a foundation that supports everything you do. “Root” inspires a strong presence in the world.

     I know from my own experience that stress does exactly the opposite: it uproots and destroys your confidence; it fragments you so you lose track of what and who you once were and who you want to be; it scatters what should be life’s rich experiences into a mundane series of events with you as the observer and not the active player.

     If I may, I’d like to share a technique with you that helps establish “root” – and goes a long way in fighting stress. It’s called the standing post.

1.  Please spread your feet with knees slightly bent. (If you have problems with the knees, I suggest that you keep the legs straight, or simply hold the arm position while sitting in a chair).

2.  Raise your arms in a circle out in front of your chest, much as if you were holding onto a beach ball. Please maintain gentle curves at the inside of the elbows and wrists. Relax the arms.

3.  Place the tip of your tongue on the upper palate of your mouth just behind the teeth. Inhale and exhale gently and slowly through the nose.

4.  Tuck the tailbone ever so gently forward and up. Round the shoulders ever so slightly and tuck the chin in slightly.

5.  You should feel as though you are relaxing into the ground while the top of your head feels as though it’s gently connected to the ceiling by a string.

6.  You can look far away, or just in front of you. Or you can close your eyes.

     My suggestion is to hold this position only for 2 or 3 minutes at a time, then perhaps 5 minutes a week or so later until you train your way up to about 15 or 20 minutes. (I Chuan practitioners will go for an hour or much longer but for daily life, 15 or 20 minutes is fine).

     After several weeks, you'll start to feel the benefits. At work or in school, riding the subway or a bus or while driving, walking down a sidewalk, sitting in a restaurant, talking with people…you’ll begin to feel connected in a relaxed and natural way – to your core, to the ground and to your surroundings. You’ll feel complete, and confident. That’s the antitheses of a stressful life!

     I have some video material of a master in Tai Chi using “root” to maintain his balance against a row of 7 or 8 people trying to push him over. He’s so relaxed! I’ll try to post this soon.







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