The lower back is an important center of energy, movement, and support. It carries our upper body and reflects a delicate balance of flexibility and strength. A strong lower back allows us to use our body in a variety of ways, while a stiff or painful back inhibits almost all of our physical activities. As such an important part of our body, it’s essential that we nourish our lower back in order to enjoy all of its wonderful gifts.
This blog post will discuss the energetic and physical qualities of the lower back, as well as how you can cultivate strength and vitality in your back through Qi Gong.
The Door Of Life
The lower back and lower abdominal area is an essential reservoir of vital life force energy. Located directly next to the lower Tan Tien, the lower back is known as the “door of life” because it’s an important pathway for energy and Qi. If you’ve taken one of Lee’s classes there’s a good chance you’ve learned one of his favorite opening exercises called “knocking on the door of life.” In this exercise, practitioners swing their arms and allow them to knock on their lower back and lower abdomen in order to awaken the Qi in one of our most powerful centers of energy: the Lower Tan Tien.
As an essential gateway for Qi, it’s no surprise that knocking on the door of life brings energy and vitality to your entire body. Once your Qi is activated in your lower back and Lower Tan Tien, you can then use flowing exercises to circulate and cultivate the qualities that you’re seeking to cultivate.
Although the lower back has enormous potential to hold energy, it also requires us to maintain it in a way that is conducive for our health and vitality. Without the right attention and love, our lower back can become stiff, depleted, and can bring us pain.
Just like many parts of ourselves, western culture doesn’t teach us the right lifestyle habits to support a healthy and strong back. Western culture seems to expect us to sit throughout many of our daily activities, which happens to be very unhealthy for your lower back. You get in your car and sit as you drive to work. You get to work and then sit in a chair to use your computer. You return to your home in the evening and then sit at your kitchen table to eat dinner. You sit on the couch to watch the news. You get the idea. Despite the fact that there are several alternative postures used by other cultures that are far healthier for your back, we still choose to position our body in an unnatural and harmful way. As Lee says, “sitting is the new smoking.”
The Lower Back and Water Element
In Chinese Medicine and Qi Gong, the lower back is associated with the kidneys and water element. Together, the water element and kidneys influence the lower back as well as our joints and bones.
Just as water likes to flow, the lower back thrives when we allow it to move and be supple. When our lower back engages in the right kind of movements, it can experience the same fluidity and richness as a stream flowing throughout the mountains. The water in an alpine stream is clear, pure, and full of healthy minerals.
When you sit, your lower back becomes stiff and weak. Just as sitting water becomes dirty and unhealthy, a sitting human’s energy becomes stagnant and exhausted. When this happens, you experience a depletion of energy that affects all parts of yourself. You feel less motivated to do things and less energized to engage fully in life.
Not only does sitting affect your energetic and emotional body, but it also leads to physical ailments. A stiff back is tense with stress and discomfort. Because a stiff back is resistant to movement, the chances of injuring yourself dramatically increase when you’re holding tension in that part of your body. Additionally, tension and tightness can often lead to chronic pain.
How Qi Gong Can Help You To Cultivate Strength and Vitality In Your Lower Back
Instead of holding tightness and tension in the lower back, it’s important to let go of those energies and cultivate flexibility and fluidity. Just as water can roll over a waterfall unharmed, a flexible back that moves with grace is resilient to many of life’s experiences. In other words, a healthy back bends instead of breaks.
Qi Gong is great for cultivating many positive qualities, including strength and vitality in your lower back. There are several wonderful Qi Gong exercises to bring fresh, vital energy to your lower back.
First, it’s important to awaken your Qi and allow it to circulate within your body. By doing so, the water element within you is strengthened and nourished. Next, we seek to release lines of tension in different parts of the body, especially the lower back and legs. When we release tension and tightness, our Qi flows more fluidly and allows us to feel more vital and alive.
After we’ve stretched our body and released unnecessary tension, we can transition into smooth, flowing movements. By focussing on flowing exercises that bring energy to our lower back, we can recharge our Lower Tan Tien.
Lee also teaches students how to strengthen their core, with an emphasis on the psoas muscle. A strong core supports our spine and the rest of our body, which helps to prevent injuries to our bones or joints.
By combining activation exercises, core strength, stretching lines of tension, and flowing movements, Lee helps students to address lower back pain in a variety of ways. Together, his practices help to both prevent as well as overcome lower back issues.
Five Elements Workshops Series
At Holden QiGong, we’ve put together a special series of pre-recorded workshops. One of these is called Qi Gong for the Lower Back.
Qi Gong for the Lower Back offers a great opportunity for anyone who either suffers from lower back pain or who wants to learn the practices to nourish and maintain a healthy back for many years to come. It’s also part of a five-workshop bundle that we’re currently offering. Since the lower back is also an important center for energy and vitality, this workshop is especially important for those who often feel depleted or fatigued.
Lee loves teaching all of his workshops, but lower back practices have been especially important for him. In college, Lee suffered a back injury from soccer. It was through his quest to heal his back injury that he discovered Qi Gong. He knows from first-hand experience how powerful Qi Gong can be for the lower back and he’s excited to share his knowledge with you. Click the link below to learn more about this workshop as well as the others that are included in this bundle.
By Ian Drogin