Standing Like A Tree

"Action originates in inaction and stillness is the mother of movement."

Wang Xiang Zhai

Chi Kung (Qi Gong) is a Chinese system of exercises for working with the flow of energy in the body. The Chi Kung practitioner learns to build internal strength through breathing exercises and meditation. Wu Chi, the position of primal energy, is a beginning exercise in Chi Kung. It involves training yourself to stand still as a tree rooted in the earth and balanced between earth and sky. This exercise is simple, but powerful, and fundamental to further training.

The following description of Wu Chi is adapted from The Way of Energy: Mastering the Chinese Art of Internal Strength with Chi Kung Exercise by Master Lam Kam Chuen. This is a simplification of the routine described in the book. The reader is encouraged to refer to this or another text for a more complete description, or seek instruction from a qualified Chi Kung teacher.

Warming Up

  • Wear loose clothing while training. Loosen your collar and belt so your body is not restricted.

  • Warm up your knees
  • Loosen Your Shoulders
    1. 1. "Stand with your feet a shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward. Slowly raise your arms as if you were holding a large beach ball between your palms. When your hands are above the top of your head, turn them outward."

       2. "Then lower your arms in an arc down toward your sides. As your hands move slowly down, imagine that each is gently pressing a smaller beach ball downward. be careful not to hunch your shoulders. As your arms reach hip level, bring them forward gently so that they can hold the imaginary beach ball again before they start to move slowly upward."

    Wu Chi- the First Position

    Start doing this exercise 5 minutes a day. Gradually increase to up to 20 minutes a day.

    "The Wu Chi postion involves simply standing still. It is an opportunity to pay careful attention to the tensions in your body and its nervous system. At the same time it becomes a moment of powerful, deep relaxation in your day. Simple as it may seem, this opening position, correctly practiced, holds the key to unlock the storehouse of your great internal energy reserves. "

    Moving Into the Position

    "Stand with your feet a shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward, either parallel, or turned slightly outward. Let your hands hang loosely by your sides and drop your shoulders. Imagine that, like a puppet, your whole body is hanging, suspended from your head. A string holds your head from a point at the top of your skull, directly in line with the tips of your ears. Feel yourself sinking down, relaxing as you hang from the string."

    Breathe calmly and naturally. Stand quietly, allowing your whole system to calm down, for up to five minutes. As you do this, follow through the following points:

    As you stand still, allow your head to hang as if suspended from the sky. Let your body align with the earth. Your weight rests in the middle of the soles of your feet. Stand as if you were a tree with its roots deep in the soil. Feel the energy of the earth. Feel the life in the elements around you. Feel the air. Sense the light. Become aligned with and a part of the earth and sky. Allow yourself to be still. Remember to breathe and relax.

    Reference: Master Lam Kam Chuen. The Way of Energy: Mastering the Chinese Art of Internal Strength with Chi Kung Exercise. New York: Fireside Books, 1991.

    Links to Chi Kung (Qi Gong) sites

  • Qi Gong
  • Qi - The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health & Fitness includes a list of teachers.


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    © 1998-2002 Tom Barrett