Greetings. We are almost through with our discussion of the art of Standing Posture for meditation and form. What I am sharing pertains to most of the people I work with. You might have special needs, so always take what someone tells you with a grain of salt. Always start out slow and easy, feel what you are doing, what the results of this practice are, then you can add more effort. Don’t forget, slow and steady wins the race!
The Spine, Neck, and Head
Continuing on with standing and Tai Chi form work, we next look at the spine, neck, and head. If we were to think of our body as an airport, the head would be the control tower. The tower is the highest point so it can observe the planes as they come and go. The spine lifts and supports this control center. As we know, man has been such a success because he stood upright onto one set of legs, could look out over the land, and make decisions based on keen observation.
Continuing with this analogy, the tower is constructed to be somewhat flexible so a strong wind would not blow it over. Our spine has the same needs – strength and flexibility. In doing standing meditation or form work, we can use two images to play with yin or yang spine.
Yin spine happens when we imagine the top of the head is being suspended from above. Some people call this “the sky hook”. This allows the spine to relax downward and yet be straight without stiffness.
The yang spine sends the top of the head upward by imagining you are carrying something a bit heavy on the top of the head. This requires pressing down into the feet in order to lift the head. Try bending your knees first, then press down against the ground, straightening the legs, as if you are trying to lift something on your head, upward.
I would say, most people find the yang version more energizing, and the yin version more relaxing, but try out both. Sometimes one might feel more inclined to relax, other times to charge up.
Not too much to say about the neck and head. The neck should be as straight as possible without stiffness. The chin should be slightly tucked under so that the top of the head is level, the eyes on the horizon. There is a tendency to tilt the head back with a bend in the neck. Try to find a nice relaxed, level headed posture. We continue with standing tomorrow.