The year of the Dragon is upon us. For the new year, I will introduce a Chinese system of exercise that is sure to assist one’s body to transform into a picture of health and strength — to become like a dragon: strong when strength is needed, supple and soft when not. It is called Zhan Zhuang 站桩 (roughly pronounced Jan Jwong), also known as “Standing Like a Tree”; a form of stance training that demands of oneself total and complete union of both body and mind to carry out accurately. Adding even five minutes of Zhan Zhuang to your everyday routine will deliver a desirable result.
To begin with, first start with simple warm up exercises:
Light arm circles forwards and backwards. Loosen up the hips by circling the hips in both directions. Loosen up the legs as well. Standard repetition count for these types of exercises usually fall within the 30 to 40 range, so shoot for roughly 30 to 40 repetitions in both directions. The object is simply to loosen the muscles and tendons and get the blood flowing. The best time to do the Zhan Zhuang exercise is in the morning as the sun comes up, but it is also fine to do it any time during the day. Five minutes at night before bed is also beneficial. There is an additional exercise called Ba Duan Jin 八段锦, or “Eight Section Brocade”, but I won’t discuss that in this post. I will reserve this exercise for a later posting, as it is an entire progression of postures and movements in itself. Continue reading