Whether we practice Tai Chi for health or martial arts, the inclusion of Zhan Zhuang (Standing Meditation) at the beginning of our daily training session becomes essential if we are to gain many of the greatest benefits spoken of in the Tai Chi Classics and historical anecdotes.
It is well known that prior to Tai Chi’s opening movement, Chi Shr - Commencement, we stand with our feet parallel at hip or shoulder width with our arms hanging at our sides. In the olden days this posture (Wuji Zhan Zhuang) was maintained for an hour before beginning the form movements. In addition to this Wuji posture, Tai Chi practitioners of yesteryear also maintained the seminal Tai Chi postures of Peng, Lu, Ji, An and Dan Pien. (Single Whip) These postures were generally trained individually, and held for prolonged periods of between 30 min to 1 hr. (Usually one posture per day) The value of holding Tai Chi postures as described above, is truly astronomical in its ability to advance and elevate the quality and power of our overall form.
Start your set as usual. When you reach the 'end' of a posture - pause - then exhale and inhale. Feel a 'sinking' from the base of skull and the secret spot in the brain (at the intersection of the eyes and ears) all the way under the feet on the exhale. When you inhale again, feel an overall expansion of the entire body from the low Dan Tien out to the extremities which propels you into the next movement. Also, during the suspension of movement feel the body making micro-adjustments in the posture itself. Once you’ve gone through the set or sequence you’ve been training, repeat it again in the way you normally practice and see what differences you feel.