Tao energy arts are not limited to standing and moving exercises. In fact there are five modes of practice, which also include:
- Lying down
- Partner exercises
Tao movement and sitting practices form a continuum with each reinforcing the other. Alternating between the two has been practised by dedicated students for millennia to achieve the most in-depth training and corresponding health benefits, as well as pursue spiritual quests.
However, if you truly want to bring what you learn in one mode to another, you need a proper foundation in both. Stabilising the basics separately before combining modalities is a critical first step, allowing you to maximise training results while sitting after a great Tao energy arts session and vice versa.
Body + Mind Must Rise to the Occasion
There are two initial challenges when beginning a sitting qi gong or Tao meditation practice:
- Keeping your body from collapsing.
- Keeping your mind from wandering all over the place or falling asleep.
Most people don’t sit well even after they learn proper postural alignments. We put our bodies in some strange positions, especially when our minds are extremely focused. After months or years of hanging out in these contortions, we have a tendency to hold onto and lock tension into our bodies. This causes undue stress on our joints and internal organs, and limits blood and oxygen supply throughout the body.
For instance, crossing your legs above the knees twists the sacrum in the iliac joints, which can eventually destabalise the whole spine. Most people have a “favourite” side that further causes imbalances throughout the whole body.
If You’re Not Working for the Circus, Do Away with Acrobatics!
Place your sit bones (at the base of your pelvis) on the edge of the chair with the back of your thighs free (i.e., not touching the seat of the chair).
Raise your spine and adhere to all the upper body alignments in standing. Keep your chin down and back to gently open up your occiput (located at the base of the skull, where the spine and skull meet).
Place your feet directly, vertically under your knees as in standing. Place your hands on your knees or thighs. If you’re typing on the computer or doing desk work, keep your armpits open and your elbows down. Relax your arms and shoulders.
You should be able to sit there without tension for some time.
If for any reason sitting up straight is too strenuous for you, use a straight-backed chair.
Position your sacrum against the back of the chair while simultaneously pressing your bottom on the seat of the chair (gently now).
Then, lean your spine against the back of the chair while lengthening up your spine. Adhere to the rest of the postural alignments detailed above.
How to Improve Posture
When doing some of the extreme yin practices or during times of fatigue, you can sit on a comfy chair or sofa (yeaha, something easy for a change). The real problem for most people is collapsing the chest, lower spine or neck, which compresses the internal organs. So don’t be most people!
Again, start with the sacrum pushing back on the sofa. Your bottom is on the seat of the sofa (of course), so really feel the contact. Align the body as best as you can.
You may be able to hold the spine in a slight curve (with the chest concaved) from tailbone to head—depending on the seat in which you are sitting.
Be sure that:
- Your spine is lengthened upwards;
- Your body is not collapsed;
- Your chest and organs are dropped and not compacted;
- The chair/sofa is supporting you so that you can relax and yet stay awake.
No Naptime Slumping
Some people become sleepy when sitting because their spine and organ base is compacted. The compression shuts down the blood and chi flow and ZZZZZZZZ!
Keeping the spine and organs open and the flows active will help keep your mind attentive. It will also give you a mental edge when working or performing any activity.
Practise these sitting positions whenever possible so you become familiar with them. Eventually, you won’t have to think about what to do so much and your body will just align. A couple quick checks in the morning and afternoon and you’ve already practised 20 minutes before you leave work. Not bad.
Adaptations for Qi Gong Energy Exercise
A number of preliminary qi gong exercises are best done sitting. They help you focus on specific aspects of your practice—separate and combine—until you’re ready to integrate them while your body is in motion. You can also adapt standing or moving practices when your body or energy is compromised in some way.
You can sit any time you’re just not in the mood to move around. Some practice is better than no practice.