Stand up straight, don't slouch, eat your vegetables. Between my mother and my grandmother I thought I was never going to stop hearing this when I was a kid. The funny thing is though, both in my classes and with my acupuncture patients, I find myself saying the exact same thing. Turns out mom and grandma were onto something.
It's such a simple thing and yet, standing upright is the first thing I teach in my weekly qigong classes. It is the foundation upon which all other successful practice is built. But why is this simple act so essential to good practice? Why should a student start on their first day learning how to stand upright all over again?
While I can point to any number of studies that tout the benefits of qigong through a western scientific lens, at the end of the day, it's all about energy, it's all about qi. In the qigong paradigm of the human body, all of our organ systems are connected by channels through which our qi, or vital energy courses. Standing upright allows our body to fall into the best possible alignment. From here, we can then let every muscle relax, and when we are perfectly upright and relaxed, our qi flows smoothly through those channels. When we begin our qigong practice upon that foundation, all of the energy that we take in from the cosmos can flow more smoothly in our bodies and work more efficiently to break through blockages and restore health. You wouldn't build a house upon sand, nor should any energetic practice be started without first being upright and relaxed.
Try it for yourself and see how it feels. Start with your feet together and your weight in the center of your feet. Then stand up with your knees and hips on top of your feet. Tilt your hips inward and upwards. Feel the pressure releasing from your lower back? Nifty, huh? Then continue to stand up from there, torso, shoulders and head all on top of your hips. Feel how easy it is to relax from here. Many of us have a tendency to stick our butts out when we walk. Cumulatively, this leads to a whole host of aches and pains as the years go by. The good news is it's easily remedied.
So while it may seem remedial to some, there's a very important reason that this is the first thing I teach and why I repeat it over and over. We have the benefit at Shaolin Wahnam Twin Cities of an incredibly powerful practice. When we stand well, fully upright and relaxed, that benefit multiplies exponentially. Taking a few moments at the start of your practice to put your attention on this will improve your skill by leaps and bounds.