In Chinese medicine our posture not only affects our bones and joints, but is also responsible for preventing problems with qi and blood flow to the brain and all organs of the body. According to TCM, the spine is seen as the center of the body and has a main channel of energy, called an Extraordinary channel, running through it. Du Mai, or Governor’s Vessel, is responsible for regulating qi through all six yang meridians. It starts at GV 1 (chang qiang), half way between the coccyx bone and the anus, and continues up the center of the spine into the head to GV 20 (bai hui), the meeting point of one hundred points of energy. It then continues down the face to end at the roof of the upper mouth at GV 28 (yin jiao) where it joins the Ren Mai, Conception Vessel, master of the six yin meridians. Any misalignment of the spine will disrupt qi flow in the Du Mai channel and all yin/yang meridians. This can then create an imbalance in the internal organs of the body, causing digestive, reproductive and urinary problems, heart, liver and lung disorders.
The importance of the joints (ankles, knees, hips, wrists, elbows and shoulders) is emphasized for good health in the Nei Jing. ”Man corresponds with nature: In heaven, there are yin and yang; in man there are 12 joints, a sage will never surpass him.” Qigong exercises focus on posture and body structure to keep the body in alignment, grounded and rooted. The result is smooth qi flow throughout the body promoting health and vitality. To check your posture for alignment, pay attention to the following points:
To maintain balance when standing or walking, feet should keep a distance between them equal to that between shoulders or hips.
Keep knees slightly bent, not locked, so that qi can flow through them without stagnation.
Shoulders, elbows and wrists remain relaxed.
The pubic bone should be tilted upward slightly, allowing coccyx and sacrum to align.
Chin is tucked in with crown of the head lifting up to align cervical vertebrae.
Imagine one straight line of energy flowing up from the soles of the feet, through the center of the spine and out through the top of the head.
To release stiffness from your body before assuming the above posture do the following:
Raise your arms, leading by the wrists, in front of you until they are at chest level. At the same time come up onto the balls of the feet. Then quickly drop your arms back down to the sides and bring your feet back down onto the heels. Do both actions together. Repeat a few times. Relax.
Acupuncture is a great place to start working on your posture. A practitioner can discover the muscles or channels most affected by your physical stance, and can then recommend which areas are in greatest need of improvement.
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