Ryūtai Undō: Advanced Dragon Body Exercises
Generally speaking, these are taught only in-person to personal students. However, with the advent of online learning the concept of in-person is a bit less exact and takes in those who can meet live online. In that same spirit, people are learning more and more via video and online guidebooks. While this is no replacement for actual face-to-face mentorship, when it comes to lesser practices, it can suffice with additional personal guidance. What follows are the more advanced Dragon Body Exercises. These are designed to increase stamina, oxygen supply, strength, suppleness of movement and the flow of Chi (also known as Prana) throughout the body. If you wish to use these exercises and have questions, please contact me for correction, etc. I will add a new exercise to this list every 3 days, so check back often to this post for updates.
- Opening the Temple-This exercise is designed to oxygenate your body and get the energy flowing throughout. The inhalation and exhalation, along with the inward and outward motion of the arms, and the rotation of the hands are balancing the polarities of Yin and Yang, In and Yo, Positive and Negative. Stand with your legs slightly more than shoulder width apart. Lift your arms up to the front, palms down. Your arms should be at shoulder level. You're going to bring your arms inward, as if you're hitting someone behind you with both elbows close to your sides. As you do so, your hands will rotate, palm upward, as you make a fist with each hand. This should be at chest level (Heart Chakra). Do this slowly and gently. No jerking motions and not too quickly, though you will want to tense the muscles as you bring your arms inward, and relax them when you extend them outward. As you bring your arms inward, inhale and tense the muscles. Then extend the hands again, rotating your open hands, palm down and exhale. Fill your lungs to capacity when you inhale. Repeat this pattern nine times. Then drop your hands to the level of your navel, and repeat the same pattern. Breathe into your abdomen, allowing it to extend. Repeat nine times. Next, raise your arms to the throat level. The only difference here is that when you bring the hands inward to the throat area, you use your fists to simulate opening your throat, as if to allow the oxygen to enter between your fists. Repeat this nine times. Next, you will repeat this at face level. Repeat nine times. Visualize energy entering your body with each inhalation, and negative energies leaving with every exhalation. Once you have finished this process, place your hands palm to palm at the center of your chest (Heart Chakra), and rub the hands together briskly, generating heat. Once your hands are quite hot, place your hands on your forehead and gently "wipe" the forehead with open hands three times. Repeat the process of rubbing your palms together, and then "wipe" the eyes three times. Repeat the process of rubbing your palms together, and then "wipe" your mouth, jaws and chin three times. Stand still for nine seconds, relaxing every muscle.
- Body Thunderbolt-Continuing from exercise one, raise your arms above your head in an arching fashion, each arm to the sides of the head rather than in front of. Your hands will turn outward as you begin, as if to lift something above your head. As you begin, inhale deeply, filling your lungs and abdomen with oxygen. Exhale slowly as your hands meet, palm to palm above your head in a praying fashion. Inhale again, and slowly bring your hands down an imaginary line beginning between your eyes, down to the center of your chest, keeping the palms together the entire time. As your hands descend allow yourself to exhale. Remember to keep your legs slightly more than shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent. Each time your arms rise, allow your knees to straighten. Each time they descend, allow your knees to bend again. Repeat the exercise nine times. This exercise provides balance to the Opening the Temple exercise, as it expands the body in the opposite direction, allowing energy to move throughout the body more efficiently, vertically and horizontally.
- Spiraling Bird-Begin by rotating your torso back and forth, allowing your arms to hang loosely and move naturally. Keep the knees slightly bent and feet shoulder width apart. Keep your spine straight and allow your eyes to scan the horizon around you as you rotate. Inhale as you rotate to the right, exhale as you rotate to the left. Let your hips rotate naturally as well. Do this 18 times, slowly. After completing 18 rotations, extend your arms out in front of your "hara" region (stomach), palms down and make circular motions with your hands, as if you were wiping a table in front of you. As you begin you inhale, and as your hands reach your stomach area, you exhale. Repeat this nine times. Then raise the level of your hands to the chest, and repeat the exercise nine times. Once completed, you will allow your arms to hang at your sides naturally, then turning your palms outward you will make a semi-circle with your arms that ends above your head, palm to palm. Then bring your hands in a straight line down the center of your body to your chest in the "gassho" (palm to palm) manner. This exercise is meant to develop spiraling energy within the body, encouraging vitality and movement.
- Rising and Falling-Allow your arms to hang at your sides naturally, knees bent deeply and slightly more than shoulder width apart. Turn your palms upward and rotate your hands in front of your abdomen. Bring your hands upward to the area just in front of your throat as you inhale and your legs straighten. Then rotate your hands to a palm down position and exhale as you once more bend the knees deeply in unison with the lowering of your hands to the area of the abdomen. Repeat nine times. The ninth time bring your hands up above your head, rotating them palm up as you do, and look straight up at the sky. Hold it for nine seconds, then turn your palms inward (facing each other) and lower them again, gradually turning them palm downward, ending at the area of the abdomen. Repeat nine times. Remember to keep your spine straight, to rise and fall with the knees, and to inhale when rising, and exhaling when falling.
*There are a series of five more exercises which can only be taught in-person.