If you have completed the ‘Between Heaven and Earth’ course, then you will have already come across this exercise. There is value in revisiting it as part of this course on standing practice.
Start with your normal warmup. Settle into your Wuji posture, and then raise your arms directly above your head and stand breathing deep relaxed breaths.
The posture is simple, but many people will find it challenging as they will have muscle tensions that make it difficult to hold the hands above the head for extended periods of time. We often think of these tensions as being in the shoulders, and a lot of them do build up in this area, often from sitting at a desk or using a computer. But we will find that there are actually corresponding tensions and misalignments throughout the body, particularly down through the back and in the pelvis, but also all the way down to the feet.
As we work on standing and relaxing into this posture without straining, little by little these tensions will begin to rebalance and wash away. It is very important that we don’t strain though, for the same reasons mentioned in earlier weeks. To help with this there are a couple of things you can do.
You can count how many breaths you can comfortably hold the posture with your hands above your head for, then lower your hands back to the Wuji posture and stay in this posture for the same number of breaths before raising your hands again. You can repeat this as many times as you wish to in the session. Little by little, session after session you can increase the number of breaths you spend with your hands raised, until you can just do a full session with your hands raised in this posture.
Something else you can do if you are trying to extend the time you are able to comfortably spend with your hands raised, is to periodically sway forwards and back and side to side like grass as we did in week one, but this time with your hands raised rather than by your sides.
Some people may find this exercise easy – which is great, for others it will be a real challenge – but the benefits are worth persisting with the practice for, even if progress is slow to begin with.