During zhan zhuang, I am still working on maintaining the bow between the crown of the head and the tailbone (later referred to as the back bow). Last night, I was able to get ‘into the zone‘ towards the tail end of my standing sessions and it felt good. However, now that I understand what maintaining this bow *feels* like, it’s quite hard to keep this going through form practice.
Right now, my main concentration is the first section of the Yang Long Form. Maintaining the back bow is pretty easy during lift hands because that’s basically holding a standing zhan zhuang posture. However, things start to change a bit once I begin to move.
I noticed I often lose this bow during transitions. For example, consider the transition between the brush knee push steps, with the starting point being finishing the movement with the left leg forward. In my execution of this form, I do not rock back. As such, I have to shift the intention to the heel of my foot so I can turn on my weighted leg. This is not easy to do and required quite a bit of practice on my part before I got it. For beginners, it is easier to shift back before going forward.
Now, after I turn my front weighted foot, the goal is to move forward. In my case, I noticed that I physically sink down into the weighted foot before lifting my rear leg. This action caused my to loose to back bow and resulted in my butt protruding a bit. The connection was lost…
To circumvent this, instead of physically sink down into the weighted front leg, I shifted my intention into the front weighted leg, then lifted my rear foot. The subtlety of this movement is deceiving and it was harder to do at first, but after a couple of repetitions, I was able to lift my rear leg and shift forward without breaking the back bow and losing the connection in my lower back!
Note, I also had to modify another slight change in my execution, that being the alignment of my hips. So, backtrack a bit to turning the foot on the front weighted leg. After shifting the intention into the rear of the foot, the turning of the foot is not an isolated movement. To really turn the foot, the whole leg must be connected. This involved not only turning the foot, but also the alignment of the knee and in turn, the joint of the hip. Furthermore, as the left leg turns out, the hips also slightly turn to the left in conjunction with a slight folding INTO the left kua. Only after all of this, was I able to maintain the back bow during the brush knee push step transitions.