Standing like a tree is a simple exercise in relaxation. The exercises help us to relax and the exercises are more effective when relaxed. Each position is based on the shoulder width stance, which should be as comfortable as possible. The feet should be shoulder width apart, the knees unlocked, the hips central, the back straight, tummy muscles drawn in, the shoulders down, the head drawn up, with the chin tucked in. the eyes softly focused and the tongue bridged on the roof of the mouth.
Relax the tension in the body, do not resist. If you feel tension then first seek to relax the muscles and if it still feels tense let the position go (resting your wrists in the kidneys). Fighting the tension only leads to more tension and less chi. The purpose of the exercise is to learn to relax and let the chi flow.
This sequence uses movement between the standing positions in order to provide a more relaxing introduction to standing. Gradually over time, increase the time standing and then start to remove the movement in between.
Start by tuning in.
Start in basic stance, knees bent, back straight, arms at the side of the body. Raising and lowering the arms, co-ordinating with the breath and quieting the mind. Raise and lower the Chi, raising the arms, bringing the energy back and grounding the Chi. Focus the mind on your activity, ignoring external thoughts and open the body’s energy channels.
Position 1 – Triangle
Stand with your arms away from the side of the body, wrists flexed. Connect to Heaven and Earth energies and use your inner smile. Use horse riding stance. Feel as though there is a large balloon underneath each hand supporting it.
Movement – raising and grounding the chi, bringing the energy down to the knees, approximately 6 times
Position 2 – Knees
Stand with the hands over the knees, elbows out to the side palms facing downwards. It should feel as though there is a ball between the hands and a point just above the knee.
Movement – open the hands out to the side, churn the golden sun through the body 6 times.
Position 3 – Golden Sun
Stand with the hands open, palms facing each other, as though holding a large golden sun, level with the Tan Tien.
Movement – Waving hands like a cloud. Bringing the hands from the tan tien up to the heart.
Position 4 – Upward palms
Hold the hands at the side of the body, level with the heart, palms facing upwards.
Movement – Raise the hands up to the heart, draw the bow and arrow, 3 times to each side. Open the arms outward into the standing position.
Position 5 – Embracing the tree
Bring the hands towards the heart, palms facing towards the heart as though embracing a tree or holding a balloon between the hands and the heart.
Movement – Hold the hands at the heart, turn the waist, at the same time turning the hands over. Hold again for a few seconds then expand the hands outwards to the side level with the heart.
Position 6 – Downward palms
Turn the hands over, palms facing down as though resting on two large balloons.
Movement – Push down to the tan tien. Bring the hands up behind the body and down the front in large circular movements.
Position 7 – Nurturing
Bring the hands back to the Tan Tien, this time with the palms facing towards the Tan Tien.
Gather the chi twice and stand with the arms by the side, observing internally.
Using the positions
You can do all of these exercises in the above sequence or just concentrate on a single position. Build up the length of time you stand. Aim eventually to do nine breaths in each position. Breathing should be relaxed and extended. More advanced students can use the exercises to practice abdominal breathing.
Try to avoid tension when doing the exercises. If you feel tension in any of the muscles try to relax the muscle rather than fighting it.