When you practice spinal qigong exercises, you learn to loosen up your spine and connect your whole body to the movement of the spine. The whole process starts with your ability to feel your spine.

I've learned a lot about spinal qigong from Robert Tangora and I talk about some of the specifics of what I've learned here. Basically, you need to go through several stages of practice before you can get to pure energetics of the spine:

  1. The first level of any qigong practice is all about coordinating moving parts. You need to practice slowly and careful, with the goal of synchronizing the timing of the movements.
  2. Once timing is there, you being to build internal connections, i.e. it becomes possible to have the sense of one part leading another.
  3. You have to develop a clear sense of how the big muscles of the back connect to the arms and legs.
  4. Through partner feedback, you can start to discern how the arms and legs “pull” on the spine.
  5. You refine how the limbs pull on the spine in order to balance the left and right side of the body.
  6. If your body is open enough, spinal qigong can give an incredibly balanced, whole-body feel to all your movement.

Start with Learning to Feel the Spine

Even though these exercises are not qigong per se, they are invaluable for giving you a sense of your spine physically. You need to work with the physical movements of the spine and develop precise control over the different sections of the spine before you can work with the energy of the spine.

Try these two exercises to get started:

Once you have a clear sense (and this will take some practice) of how the spine can move, piece-by-piece in different directions and along its own axis, you should start exploring spinal qigong exercises like the Taoist Spine Stretch, where you learn to release the spine, rather than actually "stretching" it.

Taoist Spine Stretch

In the spine stretch, you are building on your ability to feel the different sections of the spine. Now, as you move through each piece, you want to feel the stuck energy that is bound in the spine, and take enough time at each height of the spine to begin to feel it release.

As you become more familiar with the energy of the spine through this exercise, you are better and better prepared to do more sophisticated spinal qigong.

For example:

  • You learn how to store into and release energy out of the spine once you've connected the arms and legs to the spine.
  • You learn how to balance the energy of the spine and the internal organs.
  • You learn how to let go of deeper and deeper layers of the spine through these movements, resolving blockages that would be very difficult to access with feeling awareness alone.

To Learn More about Qigong Exercises

To learn more about how to do exercises like spinal qigong in a safe and healthy way, check out the qigong article archives. If you prefer listening to podcasts, you might enjoy Qigong Radio.