In the practice of Qi Gong (Chi Kung) an ancient method of health cultivation from China, you will often hear something similar to the following statement:
The body is like a vase that holds water to nourish the flower. If the vase is tipped over or broken, water will leak and the flower will wither. Here, water represents the internal organs and physiology, while the flower symbolizes the Spirit.
Following are 4 postural must-dos adapted from Qi Gong that will enable you to move with more power and grace while improving the functioning of the organ systems and thus helping to nourish your spirit.
1. Soften the Knees – The knees are like shock absorbers that help reduce impact upward into the hip and spine, as well as downward to the ankle and foot. Never lock your knees! However, there is no need to over-bend them either. Think about softening at the knees. Aim to keep them centered over the ankles. Reason is that the knees are not weight-bearing joints and if they are not directly over the ankles they become susceptible to injury.
2. Center the Hips – Many of us are stuck in a sway-back posture due to improper sitting and standing. Sway-back is when the hips are pushed forward with the perineum (halfway between the anus and genitalia) aligning over the toes rather than ankles. This puts undue strain on the lower back and throws off the alignment of the spine and head. It is of critical importance to draw the hips back in (toward the rear) to protect the lower lumbar vertebrae and allow for proper body mechanics.
3. Sink the Sacrum – The sacrum is the heart-shaped bone at the base of the spine connecting the back to the hips. Try placing your hands over the small of your back and see if you can tilt your pelvis forward and back without collapsing the upper body. Notice how the posterior tilt of the pelvis (ie. flattening the back) activates the quadriceps (front of the thighs) while taking tension out of the lower back, buttocks and hamstrings. For many of us, this is a difficult task as we have habituated and physically locked in place the lumbar-sacral joint. Don’t go too far with the posterior tilt, just drop or sink the sacrum and tailbone downward rooting us in Earth’s stabilizing and nourishing energy.
4. Raise the Crown – Now extend upward in a Heavenly direction by uplifting your midriff (between hips and ribs), opening your Chest/Heart (towards the front), and raising your Crown (located at the top of the head between the ears). Be sure to keep your chin lightly tucked (towards the back) and your gaze on the horizon. Notice how your shoulders roll back into their socket without having to pull them back, while the muscles of the neck are relieved of supporting the head on their own. Here we are resting on our skeletal system and there is no need for muscular tension to hold us up!