站桩 Zhan Zhuang – Standing Like a Tree
Zhan Zhuang (pronounced Jan Jong) means standing like a tree, post standing or standing post. It is an intermediate to advanced form of standing meditation Qigong practice for vital energy cultivation. The above video traces the roots of Zhan Zhuang which reach back from 27 centuries ago to today with Master Lam Kam Chuen. It also includes a memorial unveiling ceremony for Master Lam’s teacher, Grand Master Yu Yong Nian.
Three Essences of Zhan Zhuang
by Grandmaster Yu Yong Nian
- Hold the posture; develop your energy.
- Follow the Dao; release all obstacles.
- On the outside it appears weak and without purpose; internally it is strong and ready to use.
Great Grandmaster Wang Xiang Zhai
- Inwardly alert, open, calm.
- Outwardly upright, extended, filled with spirit.
- This is the foundation of stillness,
- and the hard and the soft,
- the powerful and the relaxed,
- motion and stillness,
- contraction and extension.
- In the instant these converge there is power.
Benefits of Zhan Zhuang Standing Meditation
Zhan Zhuang standing like a tree appears deceptively simple, but is actually more difficult than motion meditation Qigong practice. The roots of Zhang Zhuang go deeper internally than what is apparent externally. It has many health benefits as well as strength and fitness benefits that can benefit anyone of any age. It also has Qigong and Kung Fu benefits for those who follow the path further.
- Increases blood circulation
- Increases oxygen utilization
- Increases endurance
- Strengthens fast-twitch active phasic muscles
- Strengthens slow-twitch postural muscles not normally under conscious control
- Teaches and improves proper alignment
- Teaches and improves proper rooting
- Teaches and improves relaxed tension
- Allows practice and refinement of belly breathing
- Allows practice and refinement of meditation
- Builds up Qi in the legs, like charging up a battery
- Qi buildup in the legs along with the relaxation and arm positions facilitates Qi flow throughout the body
Three Pillars of Qigong
Zhanzhuang is the second pillar of three Qigong pillars which include the following.
- Moving Meditation: Baduanjin & Tai Chi
- Standing Meditation: Zhan Zhuang
- Seated Meditation Small Universe
Warm Up with Baduanjin Qigong Stretching
I would suggest learning and practicing Baduanjin motion meditation stretching for three to six months before starting to learn and practice the more difficult Zhanzhuang exercises.
Learning Zhan Zhuang Standing Meditation Positions
After practicing Baduanjin for three to six months you are ready to begin learning the Zhan Zhuang positions as described in the book The Way of Energy. As you learn each position progressively build up your time in that position until you can comfortably hold it for twenty minutes. Then start working on the next position until you reach five minutes in the Fifth Position – Holding the Balloon in Front of your Face.
Zhan Zhuang First Position – Wu Chi
Zhan Zhuang Second Position – Holding the Balloon
Zhan Zhuang Third Position – Holding Your Belly
Zhan Zhuang Fourth Position – Standing in the Stream
Zhan Zhuang Fifth Position – Holding the Balloon in Front of Your Face
Achieving the Zhan Zhuang Full Circle
After being able to hold the Fifth Position for five minutes you are ready to begin the 30 minute Zhan Zhuang Full Circle sequence. The abbreviated video above only shows each position for one minute rather than the five minutes each that I do daily.
The Way of Energy Book & Stand Still, Be Fit TV Segments
The version of Zhan Zhuang standing meditation that I’ve been practicing is that which is described in the book The Way of Energy by Master Lam Kam Chuen. Master Lam also created the video series seen below – Stand Still, Be Fit: a 10 day introduction to Zhan Zhuang.
Medical Studies of Zhan Zhuang for Health Improvement
- Benefits of Tadasana, Zhan Zhuang and Other Standing Meditation Techniques
- Using Qi flow in Taiji effecting structural change in feet and reduced pain
- [Observation of electroencephalogram spectrum changes over one year of Qigong training]
- Da Cheng Chuan – The Great Accomplishment
- The Great Accomplishment Lineage I
- The Most Important Qigong
- The Most Important Qigong II – (Standing Post – Zhan Zhuang)
- Benefits of Standing Meditation – Improve Health and Fitness
- Standing Post Qigong
- Zhan Zhuang applied as medical treatment
- Zhan Zhuang – foundation of Internal Martial Arts
These exercises are based on those described in the book – The Way of Energy and supplemented with additional sources.