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How Posture Affects Energy

Man in shirt and bowtie with arms crossed.
Learning to let go of some of our most common habits can dramatically improve our practice.

I’ve talked before in my blog about the importance of keeping your chest open within both qigong practice and life. Indeed, correcting the dreaded slouch can improve mood, confidence levels, and cognitive performance, to name a few. A few weeks ago in the weekly qigong class, I taught an exercise to my students with the emphasis that the physical posture can and will often have an influence on health. You are what you eat and you are how you carry yourself. If something as simple as adjusting our posture can dramatically improve our qigong practice and quality of life, then what are some of the other everyday little things we can do to promote radiant health?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had in the past few years is to break the habit of constantly crossing my arms. I’ve done it for years. It’s comforting and probably harkens back to being a little baby cradled by my mother. Many people would be surprised to hear me say that it’s not a great habit to have. While there’s research to support arm crossing’s benefit on exercising both sides of the brain, it is actually considered poor etiquette within a traditional Shaolin context. Why is that? Crossing one’s arms in the presence of the master signals an attitude of confrontation and challenge, so a Shaolin student makes a point of keeping their arms at their sides when standing, or hands folded in their lap when seated in the presence of a kungfu or qigong master. And while crossing one’s arms might keep your brain busy, it does also close off the chest, helping keep in the very things we strive to move past: depression, anxiety, anger, and their annoying friends. Speaking strictly from a business standpoint, crossing one’s arms makes them appear less approachable and warm, and after all, we use our Shaolin skills to enhance our daily lives, which means performing better both personally AND professionally.

One of our other common habits so deeply engrained that subtly erodes away our health is…you guessed, crossing your legs. I know, don’t shoot the messenger. I’m fortunate to have a Siheng (an elder brother within the context of a traditional kungfu family) who likes to badger me every time he catches me crossing my legs. I’m not going to pretend it’s an easy habit to break but it has big implications for the long-term health of our hips and our knees. Leg crossing can throw our whole body out of alignment and while that’s not going to be a huge deal here and there, over time, it can contribute to wear and tear of our joints, tendons, and ligaments. What’s more, crossing your legs constricts the flow of Qi and blood in meridians, veins, and arteries. This is why you’re always told to uncross your legs when you’re getting your blood pressure taken. In my fertility practice, I discourage women from crossing their legs because it constricts the flow of blood in the uterine artery.

Training out these habits is so worth the effort. Chances are you do these things without even noticing. Of course, the great thing about Cosmos Qigong is its efficacy. That means that even with these habits one can still get physical, mental, and emotional benefits. But what if you could amplify those benefits? Breaking these habits is the equivalent of removing the parking brake while you’re trying to drive. Everybody gets where they need to go faster, and the car is in better shape for it. What about you? Are you ready to trade up your car and lead your best life? Check out our class information here.

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