When you hear the word “meditation” you probably picture a person sitting down.  But, standing meditation (zhàn zhuāng 站桩) is a simple and powerful practice you can use to build strength, improve balance, increase sensitivity, calm the mind, and promote healthy Qi flow.

There are two main types of standing meditation depending on your goals: standing for martial power and standing for health and healing.

Standing for Martial Power

This type of standing meditation will help you become a better martial artist. It builds strength, coordination, and awareness of your body.  During martial standing you should be alert, like a cat about to pounce, ready to move at any time. The three main types of standing for martial power are Tai Chi standing, Xing Yi standing, and Ba Gua standing.

Tai Chi Standing (tài jí zhuāng 太极)

Sometimes called Primordial Origin standing (hùn yuán zhuāng 混元桩) this type of standing is the most common and is often used by different styles of internal martial artists.

 

Posture: The ten toes grip the earth, feet parallel and shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. The arms come up as if holding a ball; elbows rounded, hands point towards the dantian, (the energy center just below the navel). The “tiger’s mouth” (the arc formed by the thumb and index finger) is open, the chest is slightly concave and the back slightly rounded. The head relaxes forward naturally. The tongue touches the upper palate. The eyes are open but not actively watching.  This posture can also be done in a lower stance to strengthen the lower-body.

Xingyi Standing (xíng yì zhuāng 形意)

Also called Triangle Standing (sān tǐ shì 三体势) or Three/Seven Standing (sān qī shì 三七势).  This posture is the same as the body position used in the five xingyi striking methods.  It develops the explosive force and lower both strength needed in Xingyi.

Posture: The left leg steps out to the front, 30% of weight on left leg, 70% weight on right leg.  The left foot is slightly turned in, the right food slightly turned out.  The heels should be in line.  The left foot pushes back and right foot pushes forward. This engages the leg muscles. Both knees are slightly bent.  Sit back slightly.  The left hand comes up, the “tiger’s mouth” is open, and the left elbow sinks down. The right hand is at the level of the dantian, palm down, elbow bent.  The chest is concave, the shoulders relaxed.  The tongue touches the upper palate; the eyes are open and look beyond the left hand, not actively watching.  Don’t forget the other side!

Ba Gua Standing bā guà zhuāng 八卦桩)

Bagua teaches the art of striking while turning.  Bagua practitioners use posture to develop the turning force that is used while circle walking. The bagua standing posture varies a little by style, and some lineages use multiple standing postures. Here I will describe the most commonly used standing posture.

Posture: The left foot steps out. The left foot turns outward and the foot turns inward. Both knees are slightly bent. Turn to the left at the waist. The left hand comes up, so that the tips of the fingers are at head level, the “tiger’s mouth” is open, and the left elbow sinks down.   The right hand is at the level of the dantian, palm down, elbow bent.  The chest is concave, the shoulders relaxed.  The tongue touches the upper palate; the eyes are open and look beyond the left hand, not actively watching.  Don’t forget the other side!

To be continued (in 3 days) in “Standing Meditation 2 – Standing for Health and Healing” . . .