A simple Tai Chi exercise, the commencement move, can be used to help open up essential channels and acupoints to assist in energy flow. The Yongquan acupunture – energy point is located on the bottom of the foot on the forward third, where a depression forms when the toes flex downward. This point, also known as Kidney 1, is where the kidney channel begins and where the energy from the ground rises up the body. Another important area that can be opened up with this exercise is the kwa, or inguinal crease area.
Performing the commencement move repeatedly makes one focus on developing more inner awareness of the body and the blockages that may be present in the kwa or yongquan which may be limiting the progress of your qigong practice. Here are some pointers to be aware of as you are performing the commencement move:
1. Make sure that your hips are tucked and the tailbone is pointed down, a basic aspect of the wuji starting posture. The knees are bent slightly.
2. The basic posture should leave you with a 70% – 30% weight distribution on the foot, with the 70% toward the heels. As you move the arms up, there is a shifting of the weight to a 70% distribution over the yongquan. Make sure that the shift is not too much toward the extremes of the toes and heels. Just a little movement helps massage the area and help open up blockages.
3. Make your movements initiate from the lower dantien and let the arms rise as if they are being pulled up by strings at the wrists. The hands are relaxed downward on the up movement and the wrists lead in the down movement. There is circularity in the movement of the hands in front of the body and the right hand follows the right extraordinary channel and the left hand follows the left extraordinary channel.
4. On the downward movements, visualize and allow the body to sink downward, as if it is going into the floor. On the upward movement, allow the energy to come up the body.
5. If you have developed your qigong breathing practice, you can also integrate breathing in with the upward movements and exhale as the arms go down. Let the rhythm of the breath determine the pace of the movements. Relax into it.
6. As your practice progresses, you may notice your joints opening up in the hips, knees, arms and spine. The repeating rhythm of the movement and the energy flow act like the flow of water in a stream. Let it do its work, relax, and do the time.
This exercise can be performed twice a day for 15 minutes, and then follow it with standing practice. If you need some more pointers on how to do the Tai chi commencement move, look up a video on YouTube, there are several that will do just fine.