Neigong: Creating energy and well-being while barely moving
For thousands of years the Chinese Doaists, Buddhists and Kung-fu masters have been developing mind/body/energy exercises for health and fitness. Many of them fall under the term Qigong, which means breath work. Others are known as Neigong, or “internal work.”
One form of neigong exercises is known as “standing post” postures, of which there are over a dozen. Many people credit these exercises with anti-aging benefits including significant improvements to balance, strength, immune function and wellbeing.
Standing post postures find you standing still, unmoving for anywhere from two to 40 minutes at a time, and activating your postural muscles (muscle we can only control indirectly). The belief is that the longer one stands still while assuming a posture, the more the muscles fire to keep posture steady. This in turn develops qi or internal, vital energy that you can circulate within your body to improve energy, circulation and vibrancy.
You already know that small, gentle movement, like you’d experience in tai chi, is an effective form of exercise. If you follow this standing routine, which will really only total about 15 minutes, you will be quite surprised at how “physical” standing exercise is. If you are not used to a lot of movement, can’t do rigorous exercise or have health issues that limit your mobility, you can benefit greatly from this video.
Follow along with Kung-fu teacher Arnaldo Ty Nunez through this set of three standing energy-building and circulating exercises. It’s important to relax during these exercises, especially if you feel tension in your shoulders. Once you have mastered the routine, use the time to incorporate meditation into your movements.
How to begin…
Begin by standing tall with feet together and arms by your side. Now slowly step out with your left foot so that your legs are shoulder’s width apart, knees slightly bent.
From here you will begin the series of three postures.
Neigong Posture 1 – Arms floating on water
Slowly raise both arms up at the same time to your waist level. You want to remain relaxed as possible with a curvature in the joints and palms facing down. Imagine you are holding a large beach ball in your arms, wherein you gently hug it but not too tightly.
Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. This helps circulate the qi or biological energy in the body by connecting the “conception” and the “governing” channels. Breathe in slowly through your nose and exhale quietly through your mouth.
Begin by holding this posture for one minute. It’s harder than you think to stand motionless! Over time try to increase to five minutes.
After you have built up the energy in this posture you will want to circulate the energy around the body. To do this, turn your palms outward and raise your arms up along their sides, and the gently lower them down the center. Follow along with Ty for the details.
If you held the unmoving posture for about two minutes, you will want to do the energy circulation for 30 seconds. The longer the standing time, the longer the circulation time.
Neigong Posture 2 – Arms embracing the tree
For this posture, you will hold your arms at chest level, either facing inward or outward. Here, Ty holds his palms outward, with arms maintaining their curvature as in the previous posture.
Again, you should try to sustain the posture, without moving, for two minutes; working your way up to five minutes.
Now that you have built the qi, you will need circulate it. To do this, you will draw a circle with your arms in front of your chest by opening up your chest and arms, and then closing them.
A second version of circulating the energy is to move the arms outward and then inward, in an opposite way. Both are terrific. Following the video for the details.
Neigong Posture 3 – Arms supporting the sky
For the final posture, you will raise up your arms above your head. Both arms and palms will be held slightly diagonal, not vertical.
Again, try to hold the posture for at least two minutes. More if you are able.
Now circulate the energy by circling your arms from top to bottom in front of your torso for 30 seconds.
If you have been doing these in sequence, and holding each posture for two minutes, this set will be difficult. Over time, it will become easier and as you increase time and are able to build and circulate energy, you will feel more vibrant and energetic!