Do a quick survey of your posture as you read this. Are you sitting down in a chair, back slumped and spine hunched? If so, you are not alone. Most people, myself included, have a bad habit of collapsing their structure when sitting down, letting the chair support their weight. The problem with this habit is that it’s simply not good for you.
Contrary to what many of us were taught in school the human body is a tensegrity structure. Our bones are not stacked on top of each other like bricks in a building; they are floating in a net of tendons, ligaments and fascia that compresses them into spacers made of cartilage. They don’t even touch! When they do touch because of disease or injury it means pain and reduced function.
Habitually collapsing the body’s tensegrity structure can weaken that structure over time. When structure is collapsed internal organs don’t function as well, circulation of the blood is more difficult, nerves get pinched and all sorts of little pains and problems start springing up. Back pain, digestive problems, joint aches and even headaches can result from habitually collapsing the body’s structure.
Yi Chuan’s standing practice (also called Jam Jong or Zhan Zhuang) is a method to repair and strengthen the tensegrity structure of our bodies. This ancient technology has been passed down through many generations. It teaches us to be present in the body and how it works. The benefits standing practice can be applied to any activity.
Standing has helped me to become more aware of how I am using my body. Applying the principals I have learned while working long hours on the computer, working in the kitchen to prepare meals, driving my kids to school and hiking in the woods I have been able to change some of those postural bad habits, rid myself of some of those aches and pains and generally improve the way I feel.
Is collapsing a physical or a mental habit?
Basically its both. We say the Yi leads the Chi where Yi refers to the minds intent and Chi refers to the electro-chemical flow of energy that occurs in the nervous system to get the body to do what it need to to fulfill the Yi. To change the habit we change the Yi to expand and fill habitually, thereby correcting the physical habit.