Week Seven: Crane Part Two
This week we will learn additional movements to expand our Crane repertoire. We will begin by looking at several movements separately, you can then put these together into your own sequences as you play with the Crane energy. We will also further analyse the five element components we find in the Crane play.
This Weeks Practice Sessions:
Begin your sessions with the Alignment, Centering and Opening exercises from week one and a few repetitions of the warmups from week two before proceeding onto the new movements. End your session with more of the Alignment, Centering and Opening exercises.
The Crane movements will challenge your balance. Just do a little at a time and it will improve slowly but surely.
Raise one leg and place the foot across the knee of the other leg. Extend your arms to the sides as wings.
Change legs whenever you like.
For comparison you can do this in a few different ways to understand the stimulation that comes from hopping in this way. You can try hopping with your arms in by your sides. You may notice that when you hop with your arms by your sides that your lower abdomen feels more solid. When you hop with your arms extended this opens the ribs and shoulders and lengthens the back making the lower back feel more empty. The movement gets powered to a greater extent by the movement of the arms.
You can also try hopping with the raised legs foot just sitting in front of your rather than crossed over the other leg. You may notice when you do this that you have more of a tendency to build tension in your hip flexors (the muscles in the front of your hip and groin), whereas with your leg crossed it allows this joint to hang open and these muscles to lengthen and relax more. This then allows the lower back to relax and lengthen more effectively.
With your arms extended to the sides and leg raised, extend your raised leg to the front, then draw it in and extend it to the back. As your leg extends to the back, cross your arms and pivot so you now face the other way, opening your wings to the sides again.
You may also want to try hopping and changing which leg you are standing on as you turn.
This movement creates a dynamic challenge to your balance as you turn from one direction to another with your leg extended.
With your arms extended to the sides and leg raised, quickly extend your raised leg to the front, then jump and extend the other in a kicking motion. Land on the leg that was previously raised.
To do this well and easily you need to create a sense of lightness in your body. You need to raise your energy up into your ribs and lungs so that you can make your legs light and quick and lift your body off the ground as you do this. If you leave your energy down low in your body, your legs will be heavy and slow and throw you off balance in this movement.
In this movement we will mimic a Crane fishing. It is hard to see clearly where a fish is below the surface of the water when the light reflects and glares off the surface. So the Crane uses its wings to create a shadow to see through the water more clearly before darting in with its beak to catch the fish. The shadow also creates a distraction for the fish so that its movement becomes more predictable and easier for the Crane to intercept.
Stand with one leg raised, wings spread. Bring the arm on the same side as the raised leg in front of you as if it was casting a shadow over the water where you are looking. Bring the other arm in and sweep it across under your other arm in the same direction making another shadow. Form a Crane’s beak with the arm on the same side as the raised leg. Dart this Crane’s beak forward and down as if trying to catch something, stepping forwards and down with your raised leg as well.
Lift your leg again, crossing your arms in front of your body and then spreading them wide.
Change legs crossing your arms in front and spreading them wide again.
Combine all of the movements together to play at moving around with the energy of the Crane. Let the energy guide you and feel free to improvise further movements in harmony with the Crane energy.
We can see throughout these exercises the Metal element strongly stimulated by the opening of the shoulders and beating of the wings stimulating the ribs and lungs. We see the lengthening and balancing of the lower back strengthening the Large intestine, and sharpness of the beak as additional aspects of Metal. In addition to this we see Wood stimulated from the posture standing on one leg. The Heart also sits in the ribcage between the lungs, so it is stimulated by the same movements as the lungs. Some Qigong systems modify some Crane movements to focus the force more into the center of the chest to give them more of a Fire emphasis from the stimulation of the Heart.