Step forward with confidence and let the gentle currents of Chi carry you effortlessly into the future – Peter Choy
Seasonal living is a lifestyle in tune with nature’s changes, balanced energy flowing through the body equates to perfect health, when the body is in a state of dynamic flowing coherent energy, so there is no place for dis-ease. Ancient peoples have understood and used the concepts of the five seasons for thousands of years, not only for maintaining health but for making the most of the different qualities of energy within and around themselves. In so doing they continually balanced and maximized their vital life force. The ultimate goal is to be a free channel for universal energy, and to use this knowledge and awareness to evolve and help ourselves and others along the way.
Springtime is associated with Wood Element in the Chinese system of health maintenance, when the sap in nature is rising. The first smell of spring is the suggestion that you are about to emerge out of the gloom. The long dark days are replaced by the crisp, fresh dewy mornings filling you with anticipation of the warmth and sunshine, and the new oxygen that comes from the young shoots and leaves growing around this time of year. Yours diet should reflect this with fresh crispy green vegetables so you know that your body is getting re- energized with clean unprocessed foods. The feeling of this new energy inspires you to detox your body, house, car wardrobe in fact anything that is surrounding you so you match the external new energy
The energy is seen as forceful, determined to rise up and move forwards, yet remain supple and flexible as a trees ability to bend in the wind but secure in its strong roots. The linked organs for this time of year are the Liver and Gallbladder starting under the ground in February but manifesting particularly in March and April the official first day of spring being 21st March.
In spring the energy is rising and moving forwards so the focus is particularly on:
Building inner power: so we don’t feel the need to over control others or external events.
Safely release any build up of anger, frustration, and irritation and replace it with patience, humour and gentleness.
The daily warm up exercises for spring which are aimed at balancing the body by stretching the muscles, loosen the joints and vertebrae, release physical tensions, whilst stimulating the circulation, activating the endocrine system and opening up the energy channels. This establishes a strong foundation for health and for your T’ai Chi and Chi-Gung (Qigong)ƒ practice.
Spinal twists to open up the ‘Stairway to Heaven’
Spinal twists to open up the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ – stand with feet hip width apart, shoulders relaxed and arms hanging loosely at your sides and your knees unlocked. Start turning slowly from left to right and back again using the power of the thighs to promote the movement and letting the waist and torso naturally turn from side to side, gradually increasing the power of the twist. Start by tapping the sides of your buttocks with soft fists for a few turns, then work up to the waist, then the mid back then with open palms slap the gallbladder points on the tops of the shoulders, then work back down to the hips. Repeat 2 more times. Pictures Spinal twist ½
Embracing the tigers head
Embracing the tigers head – increases flexibility and tones the waist and massages the digestive organs – stand in a wide horse stance with head and spine erect and keeping the hips and legs still throughout. Have your right arm (hand fisted) curved out in front of you at chest level and your left hand (fisted) slightly out to the side of your left waist. Working from your centre and turning in the waist turn to the left (without out moving the hips and legs) then swing the left fist forwards and bring the right fist slightly out to the side of the right waist. Alternate from side to side without tilting as if turning the wheel of a car. Use natural breathing. Embracing Tigers Head 1 and 2
Stretch to open the Liver meridian
A Stretch to open the Liver meridian and increase energy flow. Stand with your legs as wide apart as possible, keeping the spine straight and with your hands in the groin crease; inhale, and, as you exhale, bend your right knee keeping your left foot pointing forward and the foot completely flat on the floor. (To increase the stretch, turn your body slightly, over the left leg). Repeat on the other side bending your left knee.
The Wise Owl Gazes behind
The Wise Owl Gazes behind – brings energy into the eyes and tones the waist and spinal column
With your feet facing forwards and about a hip width apart, place your hands at your sides with your thumbs level with GB30 (level with the indent at the side of the buttocks). Keep the hips and feet facing forwards, inhale and turn in the waist to the left to look behind, drawing the energy into your eyes as you focus on a point behind you. Exhale and return to the front, relaxing the eyes and letting them soft focus, repeat to the right. Repeat 8 times on both sides.
Painting a rainbow
Painting a rainbow – strengthens muscles of the ribcage and massages the digestive organs, teaches the practitioner to initiate the movement of the arms from the body
Inhale and lift your arms above your head, palms down, elbows bent and shoulders blades drawn down. Exhale and drop your weight into the right leg and extend your arms out to the side by moving your left side of the rib cage inwards, keeping them above shoulder height. Do not stick your right hip out.
Inhale, centralise weight and take the arms above the head. Exhale and repeat by dropping weight into the left leg and extending your arms to the right side.
Variations: Breathe out at the centre and breathe in to extend your arms, imagine clearing all the thoughts out of your mind through the connection with your palm and the top of your head. Pictures Painting Rainbow 1 – 3
- Advanced – speed up the movement, breathing in to the left and out to the right.
Opening and closing the windows
Opening and closing the windows at the base of the skull. Rub this area Picture Windows 1 Then move your chin forwards, then in and slightly down towards the throat several times squeezing the thyroid gland, which is associated with the liver Picture windows 2/3 Then look to the left and take the chin forwards then around to the right drawing a horizontal circle, then bring the chin into the throat and back to the left several times and then reverse the circle, keeping your hands at your sides.
Ten Dragons run through the forest
‘Ten Dragons run through the forest’ – for the common Cold lodged in the head leading to a headache and foggy thinking, or to help with decision making and improve memory. Place the fingertips of both hands on the front of the hairline on either side of the midline, with fingers pointing to the back of the head. Inhale and rub all ten fingers along the scalp from the front of the hairline over the head and down the neck. Once you reach the shoulders draw your hands out over the shoulders and visualize gathering up the Qi and throwing it away as you exhale through the nose. Picture Ten Dragons
- Points to balance the Gallbladder
GB 24 Ri Yue (Sun and Moon) between the 7th and 8th rib, directly below the nipple. Massage to balance and enhance the function of the Gallbladder
Points to balance the Liver
Qi Men LV 14 (Cycle Gate) located 2 ribs below the nipples. Massage to support the Liver and use for depression and abdominal distension.
Re-energise the brain and detoxify the Liver – raise your hands above your head with the palms facing forwards as you exhale, draw fists down and rotate the wrists so the palms face inwards, pulling down strongly as you exhale through the mouth making a ‘SHHH’ sound which purges the Liver. When the fists reach the Liver points just below the nipples, turn the hands downwards shaking the energy strongly out of the tips of the fingers.
- Activating the Liver Meridian:
Step your feet apart into a wide horse stance and place the palms of your hands together, bend your right leg and turn at the waist over the extended left leg. Slide your hands down the side of the left leg and over the toes and up the inside of the leg then up to Liver 14 point (see above). Then repeat to the right. Repeat several times on both sides. Pictures Activating Liver 1/5
- Activating the Gallbladder Meridian
Inhale and raise arms above your head, palms facing each other; bend your body as far as you can to the left, pressing firmly down through the right foot and keeping your torso aligned and feeling the stretch down the right side.
Exhale intensely and bring your hands, made into soft fists, level with GB24 (below the nipples between the 7th and 8th rib) coming into a stooped position with your knees slightly bent. Inhale as you rise up, arms above the head again and repeat stretching to the right. Repeat this 8 times on each side.
Retrieve the Moon from the Sea
Massages the organs, stimulates the major acupressure points LV14 and GB 24 and open the channels to strengthen the legs. (see pictures)
Stand in Wuji (Picture 353) step and out to the left into a wide stance.
1. Inhale and raise you arms straight out in front level with your chest palms down and sink down into a wide squat. Exhale through the nose and hinge from the top of your legs to take your straight arms between your legs keeping the spine straight and the neck long. Inhale and rise up into the deep squat arms out in front – Repeat six times
2. Then straighten your legs lift and stretch your arms above your head, stretching one arm and then the other to lengthen the torso. Then, repeat sinking into a deep squat and hinging forwards – repeat 1 and 2 six times.
3. Lastly inhale to lift the arms above your head (as above)then exhale lifting Huiyin (the pelvic floor) and placing your hands into your lower back to support your kidneys and lean backwards to open LV14 and GB24. Inhale and raise the arms above the head, exhale and lower down into the deep squat – repeating 1 to 3 six times.
Pictures Retrieve moon 1/8
Author: Sue Woodd
Images: Sue Woodd