The way to relax your shoulders

With your feet shoulder width apart,
slowly raise your arms as if lifting a ball.
Breathe in with the upward movement.
Turn your arms outwards and gently
lower them back to the start, breathing out.
Don’t hunch your shoulders or stiffen your arms.
Make at least 30 complete circles with your arms.

Reference:
The Way of Power: Reaching Full Strength in Body and Mind Lam Kam Chuen Gaia Books Ltd 2003
ISBN:185675198

Page: 11

Red.: This wonderful exercise is normally used as a warm-up exercise before Zhan Zhuang (Standing Pole Exercises) together with 2 others exercises for the hips and knees. This basic exercise is done to relax, loosen and free up the energy passage for the shoulders. The shoulders are one of the 2 big roadblocks that prohibit energy to travel freely to the limbs, the other being the hip.

The All-Round Standing Pole Exercise

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width, toes point forward or slightly outward. Bend the knees and sit down slightly, weight centered firmly on the soles of the feet. Keep the head and spine erect from tip to tail, chest empty (i.e. relaxed and slightly concave, never stuck out) and stomach full and relaxed, not pulled in. Gaze straight ahead, eyelids hanging relaxed over the eyes. Rest the tip of the tongue on the upper palate behind the front teeth, let the lips and the teeth hang slightly open. Arms hang by the sides. The body should feel perfectly poised, relaxed but not slack, breathing completely natural and no joint locked, as if the body is suspended in air, hanging from the top of the head by a string.

This is the basic standing posture. Stand like this for a few moments relaxing the whole body and collecting one’s thoughts before assuming the following posture.

Raise the arms to shoulder level, keeping them curved as if holding a ball in each arm. Keep the fingers apart slightly curved, palms pointing in and slightly down. Hands are at shoulder distance apart, and about three fists distance from the chest. Elbows should be slightly below the level of the wrists. Shoulders must be relaxed, not hunched, with a slight sense of outward stretching, so the chest feels open, neither sticking out nor constricted. Curved arms should also have a slight sense of inward force, as if not letting a ball drop, though no physically manifest in tension.

The posture is most suitable for those without any particular illness to strengthen the constitution, prevent illness and promote health into old age.

Reference:
Traditional Chinese Therapeutic Exercises: Standing Pole J.P.C. Moffett, Wang Xuanjie
Foreign Languages Press May 1994
ISBN: 7119006967

Pages: 49-52

(Red. Caveat: If the standing pole exercises are not done naturally with composure, correct posture and body alignment, and with the necessary lightness and full relaxation of all parts of the body without collapsing, there is a potential health risk. It is recommendable to consult an experienced Zhan Zhuang teacher. The Way of Energy by Master Lam Kuen Chun is an excellent beginners tutorial.)

Links:
Zhan Zhuang  Michael P. Garofalo’ extensive bibliography and reference

The Mighty Warrior Exercise

(Ichuan, Dachengquan, Yiquan, exercise, qiqong, chikung, breathing, energy)

The Mighty Warrior Exercise Stand with the feet about double shoulder-width apart and toes pointing ahead. Bend the knees while lowering the body to stand in a horse-riding posture. Raise the arms sideways to form each an angle of about 60 degrees with the torso, the palms facing the ground and fingers apart. Keep the torso upright, lower abdomen loosened, chest held in, and the eyes looking into to the far distance with restrained concentration. Stand still for some time.

Move the arms upwards to shoulder height, and straighten the legs. Press downwards with the palms while bending the knees back into the horse-riding position. Repeat the procedure. The arm movements resemble those of an eagle’s wings, hence the exercise is also known as the Spread Eagle exercise. Repeat for no more than 360 times at a time.

Regular practice of this exercise will cause the vital energy to penetrate every part of the body and finally form a unique strength. Once this is required, with some simple instructions, one will be able perform wonders assisted by the control of breathing, such as cleaving a rock with one palm, hitting a stone tablet with the head, breaking an iron chain with deep breathing, letting a car running over the body. What he will be able to achieve the will be diametrically different from that put on by those sham kung fu masters under the name of controlled breathing.

Reference:
Dachengquan
by Wang Xuanjie
Hai Feng Publishing Co. May 1988
ISBN: 9622381111

Page: 78