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Welcome to the Spring Class Series!

Change in both environmental and internal energies mean we should adjust our lives and practices to the cycles of the natural world. Spring is the time new life is infused into the world. In the five-element theory of Chinese philosophy we are entering the wood phase. In terms of time and space it is associated with the Spring season and the eastern direction.

Within our body Spring means we are contending with rising Liver energy, a distinct change from Winter where nurturing our Kidneys demanded our attention. I always notice this as change in my sleep pattern at this time of year. This is due to heat from the Liver invading the Heart. The Heart in Chinese medicine relates to sleep disturbances. Cold sores and mouth ulcers are another example of heat in the heart channel. The upward and branching force of the Wood Element to which Liver belongs, is manifesting. Think of a tree, or even a blade of grass. Resilience, waking earlier, more motivation. This perspective derives from both Chinese medical and Daoist traditions.

We must modify our practices to reflect the changing environmental energies around and within us. Our Spring curriculum will transition us into some new practices. Core elements like the breathing, shaking and the closing routine will remain. We will begin a sequence of simple movements, Movement as Medicine, designed to bolster and balance our body and mind this Spring.

New Teachings

This year we will teach the Ba Duan Jin or, 8 Pieces of Brocade. These eight movements are all you need in the way of stretching. Done in the standing position, they won’t injure your spine. They are 1,000-year-old Chinese military calisthenics. Simple to perform and easy to learn, people enjoy them more than anything I have ever taught. They will complement the Spring Curriculum very well.

October 15

  1. 5 Needles Postural indices

  2. Sit Calmly, Face the West (seated meditation, palms face up on thighs) a. Sink the qi b. Center diaphragm function c. Wuji I: Evenness- Find any pain or imbalance (as if it existed) on opposite side d. Pain/Dysfunction- Exhale & Sink Qi (reverse the rising qi state) in the area

  3. The BreatherTM- IMST = Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training

  4. Wuji II: Neutralize Gravity- Balance to experience natural antigravity effect of aligning skeleton

  5. Wuji III: Connect Heaven and Earth (arms overhead, palms to sky, +/- up on toes) a. Decompress joints b. Taoist Pore Breathing i. Breathing in Sunshine, nourish dantien on each exhalation ii. Repolarize CSF iii. “Get the Qi from Outside”

  6. Shaking Qigong Mental scan entire body, as discussed previously

  7. Standing Posts and Movements a. Spleen Post (postures) and Movements i. Lung, Pericardium Standing Posts and Movement ii. Shoulders and Upper Back Pain iii. Grief, Detachment and Freedom Summary of 5 Needles and Wuji Qigong on the website:

October 30

  1. 5 Needles Postural indices

  2. 3 Breaths a. Deep Breaths with Packing b. Long, Sinuous Breath with Lengthened Intervals c. Swinging Door Zen Breath

  3. Pure Yang Mudra Connect odd-number, yang fingers i. “Get Qi from Inside” ii. Inner Fire iii. Heng Mantra

b. Organ Breathing i. Yin-Solid Organs Expand with Inhalation

ii. Yang-Hollow Organs Expand with Exhalation

4. Shaking Qigong Mental scan entire body, as discussed previously

5. Standing Posts and Movements a. Universal Post- Embrace Tree b. Inflate Balloon (fill yourself with qi) c. All organs expand d. Inflate and walk forward; deflate and walk backward

6. Spleen Review, Stomach Posts and Movements a. Stomachache, acid reflux, stomach-related fatigue

b. Mental congestion/overthinking

7. Lung, Pericardium Posts and Movements Review

a. Shoulders and Upper Back Pain e. Grief, Detachment and Freedom 8. Large Intestine Posts and Movements

a. Lower Back Pain, constipation

b. ‘Letting go’ meridian

9. Triple Burner Posts and Movements

a. Headache, Low Back Pain, Brain Fog, Congestive Disturbances

b. Decongestion, untwisting

Fall is the time of transition between the extremes of summer and winter. We should be preparing for winter and enjoying the fruits of our labors as the year closes. Thinking this way attunes us the patterns of nature, easing our way through the world. In health maintenance and spiritual cultivation this calls for a combination of releasing the excesses of summer through relaxing movement and preparing to settle down, conserving energy for winter. How smoothly will you transition to winter this year?

Autumn stresses the Lung and Large Intestine, together known as the Metal Element in the 5-Element theory of traditional Chinese philosophy. This is why your lower back, neck and shoulder pain returns at this time of year. Constipation, asthma, and recurrent bronchitis is more likely. The lung dominates our body’s energy. It is the “commander of our qi” in the classics of traditional Chinese medicine. As we breathe so shall we live. The Chinese have an aphorism, “The true man breathes from the heels”. Qigong or Chinese yoga helps us understand the meaning of this. Conversely, they say “A man on his deathbed breaths from his throat”.

This is a time to tend to relationships. When metal is imbalanced, intimacy can suffer. This because metal relates to attachment. Weakened, it manifests as depersonalization and interpersonal distance. The drive to bond can diminish. Too strong and zealous behavior can result.

On the emotional plane grief is associated with metal. Observe people mourning at a funeral. They hemorrhage energy from their nose. The nose is the sensory organ (eyes, ears, nose, tongue) that is associated with the lung. Grief is due to ruptured attachments. The good news is that healing is possible. Healing in this sphere involves letting go. The large intestine meridian is the channel of “letting go”. It releases old trauma of all kinds. Release of attachment is the path to freedom. Freedom is the personal evolution of recovery from dysfunctional attachment whether it is personal, philosophical, religious, or racial. Anything to which the mind can bond. It is also the coming of peace as grief is supplanted by recovery.

Understanding the dynamic of Metal assists us in reducing our bondage. Internal freedom from self-imposed limitation is the result.

Movement The postures of metal are geared toward release of the lung and large intestine, their associated spinal, cranial, organ, and limb correlations. The rib cage and upper extremity are the keys. Opening the chest and breathing well are the hallmarks of metal function within our bodies. Mantra The vocalized breath of the lung is the ‘ah’ sound. ‘Shang, shang, shang’ has this ‘ah’ sound imbedded within it. The inherent vibration is palpable in the lung. Feel your chest and vocalize ‘ah’ or ‘shang’. The vibration signifies activation of qi in your lungs. Mudra A mudra, or hand gesture which unlocks the wisdom within the body involves connecting the pad of the thumb to the thumb-side fingernail of the index finger. Feel your chest expand as you make the connection. Imagery The color of the Metal Element is white. Envisioning white energy filling the lungs and large intestine while engaging in breathing exercises enhances the function of these organs and their related body-framework areas.

Look to the West as you practice during the Fall. West is the direction of the Metal Element.

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