September 23, 2010

Yin (陰) Yang (陽): Every Moment in Motion

Close your eyes and imagine........

Space in every direction.  You see nothing, feel nothing, hear....nothing.  Then....something.  A movement, a sound.  Undefined and remote, but real.  And again.  A tiny ripple.  Still very faint but clearer and more distinct.  Its all around you but in no place specific.  Moving, spinning...nearer now, it is purposeful and defined.  Spinning, tumbling, whirlling all around you.  You feel it.  Cold, then warm and hot and cold again.  Changing. Wet, then dry, soft, sharp, hard and smooth.  Sound.  Even and fluid while rising up then falling low, pushing forward and receeding back again.  And colors.  Deep blue, subtle green, a flash of red.  Black and white.  Moving, spining, creating and eroding, and....

That is yin (陰) and yang (陽).  Elemental energy, movement, and change.


September 13, 2010

Shuai Shou 甩 手 - Swing Arms

The characters above are pronounced "shuai shuo".  They are both pronounced with the third tone.  The character "shuai" represents moving back-and-forth, or swinging.  The character "shou" represents the hands or arms.  So, this combined character means "swinging arms".

Shuai-shou is a very simple, low impact exercise that is useful as a nice morning wake-up, an evening wind-down, a warm-up before something more strenuous or a warm-down after your exercise.  There are a couple of versions of shuai-shou so I am goingto describe the simplest and most straightforward for now. I will get into the other versions at some point in the future.

Stand with your feet roughly shoulder width apart. Arms relaxed at your side.  Keep your feet are flat on the ground and facing straight forward (not pointed outward).  Lean forward very slightly until you feel a bit of pressure on the balls of your feet.  Turn your waist from side to side and.let your arms swing loosely as your turn.  Turn as slowly as you like and as far as is comfortable. Nice and smooth.  Don't worry about where your hands go, just let them swing.

This will give your entire body a nice gentle work-out.  This is not an Olympic event so just do it as much as feels comfortable.'s the it every day! Even if it is for 1 it 1 minute every day.  Everyday for 6 months, 1 year, the rest of your life. I do this exercise constantly, just to help me relax - it really is like meditation in motion.

I try to avoid giving too many instructions because it tends to make people think too much about what should be a natural movement..BUT...I cannot resist giving the following advice.

Keep your feet planted on the ground.  Don't lift your heels off the ground and try not to sway back and forth when you do this exercise.  Don't worry about how far to left and right you are turning.  Turn to the extent you are able and let nature take care of the rest.  Just stand and turn...everyday..

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September 06, 2010

Yin 陰) and Yang (陽): The Basics

The concept of, and the relationship between yin ( 陰) and yang (陽) lie at the heart of Chinese language, art, science, philosophy, religion, medicine, and culture.  I think it is safe to say that there is no shortage of books, artcles etc. on the topic of Yin and Yang mostly written by persons more studied than I.  However, I offer the following observations for what they are worth.
  • 陰 and 陽 are a "mutally inclusive" pair - they do not exist independently of each other; 
  • 陰 and 陽 are relative - the strength/weaknesses of one is defined only in relation to the other;
  • 陰 and 陽 are balanced - they are not equal.  Balance is natural, and it permits movement/change;
  • 陰 and 陽 are dynamic - their relationship and their nature as a combined pair is constantly changing.