In our seated Tai Chi programme we teach a lovely seated Nei Gong exercise. It is an exercise that reinforces correct posture and breathing and also serves a method for calming the body and mind. It can also be incorporated into a pre-sleep ritual for those who suffer from insomnia – it help’s prepare the body for a peaceful night’s sleep. It can also be used at your desk and in your car.
Simple Seated Nei Gong
1 – Firstly you will need to be seated – either sitting on a chair or on the edge of the bed. Ideally you should sit at a height were your thighs are horizontal with your feet sitting flat on the floor shoulder width apart.
2 – Now you need to hold your head “as if suspended from above”. Imagine that you have a book balanced on your head and then gently float the crown of the upward – ensuring that crown stays level and your book doesn’t fall off! This should cause you to sit up straight and feel the spine open.
3 – Keeping your feet on the floor and your head suspended gently pull your tailbone towards your belly button. This will create an opening in the lower back.
4 – Once you have your body in the right position we can now start to co-ordinate your breath and body. You need to take a gentle breath in and as you exhale gently sigh the breath out and relax the body. We do this in a number of stages that takes the mind and breath all the way through the body:
(a) First take your mind to the muscles of the neck, breath in and then gentle sigh the breath out and soften them.
(b) Take your mind to your lungs, breath in, exhale and soften.
(c) Take your mind to the heart and diaphragm, breath in, exhale and soften.
(d) Take your mind to the psoas muscle (or the belly and lower back if this is easier to visualise) breath in, exhale and soften.
(e) Take the mind to the pelvic floor, breath in, exhale and soften.
(f) Take your mind to the backs of the knees, breath in, exhale and soften.
(g) Take your mind to the arches of the feet, breath in, exhale and soften.
(h) Finally take a slow deep gentle breath in, exhale and soften all the way through the body starting at the neck and finishing at the arches of the feet.
Sometimes you will come to a part of the body that just doesn’t want to soften and release. Don’t worry about this as it will create more tension. Simply and dispassionately take another breath in and repeat as many times this body part needs to soften. Also sometimes gently holding the breath and letting it ‘percolate’ in that body part before gently sighing out can also work wonders.