The goal of Zhang Zhuang Chi Kung exercise is to stimulate the flow of energy internally in the body so that it effectively rushes thoroughly within the body and clears the entire internal network of energy channels, or “meridians”. This standing meditation offers a wonderful method of training the central nervous system, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, the mind, and the internal organs simultaneously, so that the inner strength of the whole person is elevated to a new level of power and fitness.
There are many styles and schools of Chi Kung and we teach many methods on this site. There is Chi Kung for health, for medical therapy, for martial arts, and for spiritual development. In the martial arts, there are “hard” Chi Kung training includes techniques known as “iron palm”, “iron shirt”, and “golden bell cover”. In athletics Chi Kung is used to develop muscle & ligament power and endurance. In medical application, especially in China, there are two main systems of Chi Kung: one is dynamic or moving Chi Kung which involves movement during exercise; the other is stillness Chi Kung limited to static breathing and meditation exercises. In the spiritual field, there are Chi Kung exercises that enable the student to experience other dimensions, and to develop telepathic powers. The goal, however, of building health, happiness and internal strength, remains fundamental to all.
Learning to stand
This Chi Kung begins with five basic standing exercises, which start the accumulation process and release the natural flow of energy inside you. The first position is a very simple and natural standing posture that enables you to relax your body in preparation for the other standing exercises. The second position, “Holding the Balloon or Hugging the Tree”, is really the key position in the whole system. It is essential to become thoroughly comfortable in both these positions before moving on to the next level. You should be able to stand comfortably in each posture for 20-minutes prior to working on another standing position. The best way to gain proficiency is to start slow, only exercising for 3 or 5-minutes at first and then adding something like an extra minute longer each day until you are standing comfortably for 20 or 30 minutes in the posture.
Simple warm up routines before standing exercise prepares your body for the internal changes that take place during the Zhang Zhuang exercises. Warm ups are essential for beginners, because although the standing positions do not look strenuous, if you do them properly the resulting activity inside your body is enormous, and affects your entire biological system. During the standing you may feel a little weak, start to tremble, or begin to tense up. Regardless don’t move: breathe naturally and try to relax. Use the time to notice all the remarkable changes and sensations in your body. Always remember: standing still is not doing nothing, it is the actual exercise. You need to learn how to breathe and relax into the stands. This will give you the contradictory experience of simultaneous exertion and relaxation during the standing postures, which is fundamental to this exercise system. When you feel stressed, breath in deeply and slowly through your nose as if you are smelling a beautiful flower or something delicious like your favorite food. Inhale and mentally make the sound “Mmmmmm” and put a gentle smile on your face to trigger endorphins (feel good hormones). Exhale through your mouth with a soothing sigh of relief mentally or vocally making the sound “Ahhhhh” allowing the feeling of relaxation to settle into your being.
Start by doing the standing exercises for just three or five minutes a day. Follow the step-by-step advice, practicing a little bit longer each and every day. Do not skip ahead: developing self-control is part of the training. Once you are standing 20-minutes or longer, you will feel your entire system rejuvenating and filling with energy. This is truly a remarkable method of health exercise and energy cultivation. Later, you can advance into our Shaolin Nei Jing Yi Zhi Chan standing exercise, which is considered to be the most precious pearl of Zhang Zhuang Chi Kung methods.