In line with the insights provided by Dr. Lyon, we can fall back on centuries of experience by looking to the Horse Stance. This is a fundamental posture in various disciplines, including Tai Chi, and is also a cornerstone of Zhan Zhuang, or stance training, a method developed by martial arts masters to train energy and mind.
Historically, masters would have students maintain the Horse Stance for extended periods, sometimes hours for those who can. For the everyday person, a goal of 2 minutes is more than adequate to start. While modern training is less extreme, the importance of mastering this stance can be of significant benefit as we age. Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit encapsulates its essence: “if you can persist in training the Horse-Riding Stance, you can do anything in life”.
The Horse Stance involves spreading the legs to the sides, akin to a riding position, and squatting down until the legs form a 90-degree angle. The stance is a test of physical and mental endurance, as maintaining it for extended periods is challenging.
- In keeping with the focus on Healthy Ageing, the Horse Stance
- Strengthens leg muscles, preventing atrophy with age.
- Improves heart efficiency in blood circulation from the lower legs.
- Enhances the strength of gluteal muscles.
- Promotes better posture, improving balance and weight transfer during movement.
- Strengthens abdominal muscles, supporting a flatter stomach and reducing back pain.
- Increases bone density and can aid in reducing blood pressure.
1. Begin with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Some suggest 1.5 times, and others double the width.
2. Keep the outside edges of your feet parallel.
3. Your breathing should be controlled yet natural.
4. The stance requires a straight torso, with the head aligned and the neck lengthened.
5. Eyes can be open or partially closed.
6. The upper body should remain relaxed, with weight evenly distributed between the feet.
7. Lower your body to a comfortable level, ideally with thighs at a 45-degree angle.
8. Your lower back should be relaxed, with the sacrum area slightly tucked.
9. Maintain your torso upright, resisting the urge to lean forward.
It is simple to get started. Begin with ten slow breaths in the Horse Stance and gradually increase the duration. Consistent practice, even for a few minutes daily, can lead to significant improvements over time. Its simplicity belies its effectiveness, offering a unique blend of physical and mental benefits supporting mobility as we age, and making it a practice worth incorporating into daily routines for anyone seeking to enhance their physical strength. We are never too old to give it a go.