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RAISE HANDS EXERCISE

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RAISE HANDS

Raise Hands is a subtle yet very powerful exercise in Chi Gung. It is well worth practicing on a daily basis. After 40 + years it is still my best friend, my most profound teacher, and has kept me balanced during times when I thought I might not walk again after a devastating car wreck.  Simple and profound is its healing prowess.

There lives a legend of the exercise of raise hands. When Ben Lo was a young man suffering from tuberculosis he went to visit Professor Chang for help as he heard that the practice of T’ai Chi Ch’uan could cure a person of tuberculosis. When granted an audience he asked Professor to please teach him T’ai Chi. Ben said that Professor did one round of raise hands and told him to go away and practice what he just showed him for one year then he might consider taking him as a student. Ben graciously asked Professor if he could see the exercise one more time. Professor sighed as if annoyed yet showed him the exercise one more time. “Now, go away!”

Professor gave Ben Lo a test in his commitment to study T’ai Chi and to Professor’s surprised Ben showed up a year later after having practiced the exercise diligently. He was cured of tuberculosis as well. Professor agreed to teach him T’ai Chi. They were in Taiwan at the time.

Ben Lo was one of my teachers and he recently died a ripe old age and probably with a smile on his face. He was always smiling, yet he was a fierce and dedicated teacher.

The point of this story is … please don’t over look an exercise that seems too simple to have any value. We do not need to pound ourselves into submission to be strong … quite the opposite, really. When you can practice this exercise and begin to feel your balance or the struggle with your balance you are on the verge of becoming soft, pliable, and strong. Suppleness and relaxation allows all parts of your body to work interdependently in balance and in harmony. Professor knew the efficacy of this exercise.

ASSIGNMENT:

Slowly practice Wearing the Moon to study your alignment, then move to Raise Hands. Go internally with your awareness and allow your balance to show you where to look and where to let go of holding patterns. Practice before you ride. Practice first thing in the morning. Practice before you go to bed. The benefits to your riding will become obvious with dedication.

I’ll will always enjoy a conversation with you if you would like to contact me.

Enjoy the ride … Sara

BALANCE

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Balance. A little word with immense meaning. Now when it seems the world is spinning out of balance it is essential for our own well-being to find balance within ourselves first and then to our external world. Physical, mental, and emotional balance keeps our good humor alive and our hearts open to whatever the world throws at us. The practice is not to feel numb or to feel nothing at all, but to have awareness to feel unquestionably alive in the moment. With a daily practice we can learn to nurture compassion, strength, and resiliency through awareness of own imbalances and rebalances enhancing all that we do. Then we can extend this to our horses and riding acumen.

In the practice of T’ai Chi and Chi Gung we practice letting go of excess tension in our bodies so we can be physically balanced to move with ease within the pull of gravity. When challenged in sparring we learn to tame the mental wild horses to stay in a focused and alert mental balance. When our fears rise we learn to respond in emotionally balanced ways so our fears do not take over. T’ai chi/chi gung tames the energy in our body/mind/spirits so we can think and respond in front of a tiger.

Through practicing the exercises one begins to feel where tension patterns  restrict movement. Feeling restrictions is noticing them and noticing how they force you to struggle to remain in balance. Noticing brings awareness which allows us to let go of excess tension patterns allowing muscles return to their inherent position and function. As a rider, understanding and developing your body/mind/spirit balance opens you up to feel and release those same qualities within the horses’ body. Your riding becomes more balanced and connected so that your aids are truly continuous, quiet, and focused without force or excess tension.

In this quiet time, it is a good opportunity to exercise and develop feel within yourself. I offer you our video that we produced in the late 90s when I began to teach T’ai Chi to equestrians. It is still relevant to this day. The philosophy and practice of T’ai Chi has survived thousands of years…it’s still relevant. Like good riding it takes mindful practice each day to develop the feel of softness, strength and flexibility wherein lies the foundation of relaxation and quiet balance. If you truly desire these qualities in your riding, your practice will not disappoint.

If you would, please feel free to comment, ask a question, or just connect with me in practice.

CHI GUNG FOR RIDERS – EXERCISES

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