I know what you’re thinking. You already know how to really relax. I mean, all you have to do is sit down on the couch with your feet up, the remote in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, right? Or maybe sitting on the beach chilling out listening to the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore, like I am at the moment…
But there is a much deeper level of whole body relaxation achievable through the conscious action of your mind and breath. This is accomplished through the Yiquan process of relaxed standing, otherwise known as Health Standing. Before we get into the particulars of the exercise, you need to know how to stand.
How Do We Stand?
In practical terms, how should we stand? Let’s start with the head and work our way down…
Lift upwards slightly with the crown of the head allowing the chin to lower.
This straightens the vertebrae at the back of the neck. Shoulders are back and down sitting on the spine.
The back should be flat.
Do not tuck the pelvis.
The spine should be suspended from above like a skeleton hanging in a Science classroom.
Do not have the arms lay flush against the body.
There should be a golf ball sized space under the armpits.
The bottom of the spine pulls straight down from the tail bone.
Feel like you are sitting on a high stool.
Allow the knees to bend slightly.
Feet should be shoulder width apart and pointed straight forward as if on railroad tracks.
Legs should feel like they are squeezing a beach ball.
Remember though, the ball puts outward pressure on the legs as they squeeze in.
Both directions, not just one.
The weight is carried in the hollow behind the balls of the feet. In Chinese Medicine, this is known as the yongquan or bubbling well point.
All of the above points must be maintained to have a truly “natural” standing posture.
Now that you have the external mechanics down, let’s talk about how to supercharge your relaxation process.
- Mentally scan the body for areas of tension. The usual suspects will be the neck, shoulders, low back, and the quads.
- Begin to actively release each area of tension one by one with your mind. For example, think of the tightness in your shoulders and mentally relax it by telling yourself “the tightness in my shoulders is letting go and relaxing”. Then proceed to the next area until you have systematically gone through them all.
- If one particular area is giving you trouble work on breathing into it. Inhale into the area, hold for a few seconds, then exhale from the area to release it. Use this process over and over again until the tension has let go.
- Once you have removed all the residual tension in the body continue to stand holding that relaxed feeling. Think of your body as a drop of ink dissolving in the ocean, spreading out in all directions.
- Start with 10 minutes of relaxed standing. Work up to 60 minutes.