Last year I said I would report back on my new exercise inspired by the channel 4 series from 1995 and the supporting book, on standing like a tree - Zhung Zhang.
Well despite some very, very sincere effort and real attention to detail, I had to give up after 5 months doing it. I had managed to get 30 minutes into the stance and work my way to the 2nd pose (no including the neutral start up stance).
I stand by the benefits I noted in my blog entry last year .... but there began to be a pain in my knees. I could not prevent that and I could not work out why it was being caused. I was really careful not to have knees beyond toes, and I varied the depth of the stance to make it more forgiving but the pain came back. I tried stopping the 8 pieces of brocade, to see if that was involved but no.
This was a real blow as it had good benefits on my mind. Also for the first few weeks when I started it had a real energy boost. I did not need sleep in the amounts I usually needed. The mind benefits were to make it feel calmer, anaesthetic-like, once the session got started by 10 mins in and had ended. I can get this effect from the wu chi neutral position which is something I salvaged, however.
My knees developed a creaking noise now, that was not there before. Wonder what caused that?
I did manage to keep up with the 8 pieces of brocade, however. I had stopped for 3 weeks in Spring to give knees a rest but then kept going back to it. I am glad I did this. This does give me something constant to do and come back to. The more you do it the more skilled you become, (there is a surprise). Even though the moves are simple the co-ordination of the mind / moves and breathing is not easy. In Dr Yang Ming's book he gives the supporting ideas of where the chi should be directed - I see it as mind control - and that takes some work. (He does say breathing can be just natural but he then goes on to say you can coordinate it later when you feel more confident).
The work is the beneficial thing too. I do feel more focused vs a year ago at times. Also my stretching and joints have improved in my legs. There are 2 moves, when you grab your feet, and 'shake head and tail like a bear' that give you a nice leg stretch / hip stretch. It is gentle and over the months the benefits accumulate. My hands feel warm at the end of these sessions and I tend to put them on areas of my body that feel bad and 'need healing'. Ok I cannot promise that is chi energy and the warmth is magic powers but I know my circulation is better and I do not feel the cold as much as a year ago.
Conclusion: Standing still for the 5 months showed me that simple things are not easy but there is something to be said for this. Real pity I could not keep it up. I would if I could.
Pleased I am still doing the 8 pieces, however.
So mission was partially successful.
I stopped massaging my knees in the way shown in the Tai Chi video below. I think picking up the patella and manipulating it was not a good idea. I think that is for extreme one-off pain, not a post exercise thing.