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Myofascial Tensegrity and Zhan Zhuang


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#1 sheng zhen

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 12:56 AM

There is now emerging a lot of research on fascia that gives us a whole new understanding of the structure in our body. We all know that fascia surrounds and connects everything. But never have anatomist given it any attention. For centuries they have overlooked fascia just to get down to the individual muscles and their individual functions. But now, with Tom Meyers amazing work – www.anatomytrains.com - we are seeing the emerging of a whole new understanding of the holistic myo-sceletal system in our body.

And for our Zhan Zhuang practice, this is a gem!

Instead of seeing individual muscles connected to individual bones and joints, we can now begin to see whole-body patterns. The Anatomy Trains show us that through the fascia surrounding and intertwining every muscle, the whole body is interconnected. One muscle never acts individually. Actually there is a whole-body activity whenever we do any small movement. But this distribution of force is especially obvious through the lines described in Anatomy Trains connecting toes to head and head to fingers in both superficial and deep levels.

This is not some subtle energy system (even though it corresponds very nicely to the meridian system). This is a new anatomical discovery based on including the fascial web in dissections.

But what does this have to do with Zhan Zhuang? Well, I have two concepts I want to share that have deepened my understanding of ZZ and eased my practice. And I have never seen it presented anywhere else with regards to qigong and Zhan Zhuang. Though I suspect this will be something all kinds of bodyworkers will start to implement in their practice sooner or later.

First of all it is the concept of fascial tensegrity. The body is not a compression model where gravity acts on the body which builds one bony structure on top of another, and the muscles fight to keep the body upright. It is not that simple. The body is in reality a tensegrity (Buckminister Fuller, NOT Castaneda) structure where all forces are evenly distributed through connective tissue. If one single part of the structure is weak, the whole structure collapses. The body is a tensegrity structure, but instead of collapsing it works very hard to compensate for the weak links, i.e. bad posture.

The fact that our body is a tensegrity structure means that the bones are actually floating within the web of fascia. They are not compressed on top of each other. They are floating! Check out www.floatingbones.com. Now, just this realization eases the Zhan Zhuang very much.

Try this experiment. When you do Zhan Zhuang and start to become tired, try imagining your bones are floating inside your body. It is not the bones that are holding you up. Its fascia! And fascia is not any individual structure that holds all the bodyweight in one limited area. It is a structural network that distributes the force of the gravitational pull evenly throughout all the body. Just let go and let fascia do the job. And the bones are floating inside this web of fascia.

When I do this I enter whole new levels of relaxation.

The second concept that this model of understanding brings is more of the same but specifically directed at the spine. The spine is a tensegrity model and the vertebraes are floating inside a web of force-distributing myofascia.

Apply this concept to your Zhan Zhuang aswell. Imagine that the vertebraes are no longer placed on top of eachother and compressed by gravity. They are instead floating on top of each other being held up by fascial tensegrity structures. Go through each vertebra from lumbar to cervical and let them align naturally within their tensegrity structure. When you do this you will probably feel how each vertebra really moves and corrects its position and aligns the whole spine. The space between each vertebra expands and you grow 1-2 cm taller within just a few minutes.

With a relaxed and corrected spine in Zhan Zhuang you are on your way! Even deeper levels of relaxation and ease in your Zhan Zhuang will be revealed.

Check out the researcher Stephen M. Levins work - www.biotensegrity.com for more on tensegrity and the spine.

When the body fails to align to the gravitational field it needs to spend a tremendous amount of energy to compensate. But we all know Zhan Zhuang is the perfect alignment to gravity. So we can say that Zhan Zhuang is the active transformation of the body from a failed (compensatory) structure to a healthy (tensegrity) structure where we no longer need compensatory muscular force to stay upright in our life.

To me and my Zhan Zhuang practice, these simple changes in how I understand the body has done wonders.

Notice how none of the poles are touching eachother in the picture below. They are held up by evenly distributed forces throughout the whole structure: tensegrity. They are floating in a gravity-free environment. Pretty much like the bones in our body is when we have good posture.
Posted Image

(Edited so noone is misquoted)

Edited by sheng zhen, 24 September 2009 - 12:38 AM.

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#2 rain

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 01:33 PM

"The body is in reality a tensegrity (Buckminister Fuller, NOT Castaneda) structure where all forces are evenly distributed through connective tissue."

BEAUtiful Zhengling! :D thanks

Edited by rain, 19 June 2009 - 01:34 PM.

"Reality is nothing but a collective hunch."~Jane Wagner 


#3 Josh Young

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 01:09 PM

Fuller stole the idea himself, much like Castaneda did later.

Have you every seen the tensegrity exercises by Castaneda's people?
It strikes me as relevant.

Of course what you write has great truth to it. I may disagree with minor details but the overt points of the article remain valid and are worth considering by any practitioner of internal arts.

#4 sheng zhen

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 10:18 PM

Fuller stole the idea himself, much like Castaneda did later.

Have you every seen the tensegrity exercises by Castaneda's people?
It strikes me as relevant.

Of course what you write has great truth to it. I may disagree with minor details but the overt points of the article remain valid and are worth considering by any practitioner of internal arts.

Oh but please dont disagree silently... dont forget we are at taobums! :D

Where did Fuller steal his ideas?

I dont see Castanedas exercises any more relevant to tensegrity than any other exercises just because he named it Tensegrity. Tensegrity means a balance between all tension forces. In youtube videos of Castanedas tensegrity there is a lot of tension and breathing, and maybe there is a balance. I dont know.

But that it has anything more to do with the actual BIOtensegrity than any other exercises(Yoga, qigong, Zhan Zhuang, aerobics, whatever) not true. So I said "NOT Castanedas" to try to crush this misunderstanding before it appeared.

Edited by sheng zhen, 21 June 2009 - 11:33 PM.


#5 stuzilla

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 09:42 AM

You may find the work of Dr Ida Rolfe (PhD Biochemistry) interesting. She developed techniques to relax fascial tissue so that structural reallignment could take place in individuals who had unbalanced/strained bodies. She called it structural integration.

#6 longrhythm

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 06:27 PM

Tensegrity applied to the coccyx and femurs explains perfectly why a strong pc muscle aids in walking, squatting and posture.

#7 sheng zhen

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 07:44 AM

You may find the work of Dr Ida Rolfe (PhD Biochemistry) interesting. She developed techniques to relax fascial tissue so that structural reallignment could take place in individuals who had unbalanced/strained bodies. She called it structural integration.

Yes, absolutely. Im working with a method that evolved from Ida Rolfs method, Rolfing. Rolfing is painful, but the method I do(KMI - www.anatomytrains.com) is not. Simply because we have discovered that fascia melts with slow movment and contracts with sudden movement. Much like a non-newtonian fluid(search youtube for cool videos). So we say "speed is the enemy"! ...when related to bodywork.

Structural Integration is trying to release fascial blocages so the body enters its natural alignment to gravity. Which is the Zhan Zhuang position. Structural Integration has a perfect synergy with Zhan Zhuang.

#8 minkus

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 03:47 AM

This is indeed extremely interesting :)

#9 sasblamthanb

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 07:12 AM

Great posts. Thanks.

btw Check out Scott Sonnen - very grounded, applied biotensegrity
http://www.intu-flow.com/

#10 sheng zhen

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 08:02 AM

Great posts. Thanks.

btw Check out Scott Sonnen - very grounded, applied biotensegrity
http://www.intu-flow.com/

Very cool movements!

I do Xing Shen Zhuang which has a distance resemblance to the Scott Sonnon video. It is not so much fast movements, but it does open up all the joints and especially the spine.

I did an anlysis of XSZ and Anatomy Trains and it revealed that XSZ is a complete workout of all the 12 Anatomy Trains Meridians. It even has an exercise directly related to the complex Spiral Line. The whole line! Not just parts of it. I am very inspired to see that age old exercises are confirmed by top notch modern discoveries.

The Anatomy Trains people have embraced yoga allready, but I dont think taoist yoga will ever get the same recogntion. Even though I believe the more dynamic taoist yoga is better for the fascial structures than the mechanical stretching found in popular yoga.

#11 sasblamthanb

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Posted 30 June 2009 - 08:27 AM

sheng zhen,

re

we have discovered that fascia melts with slow movment and contracts with sudden movement

Being an impatient ADD westerner, in day to day practice I so often forget that … thank you for reminding me. For almost ANY and ALL corrective work, the mantra needs to be ‘slow down and feltsense it’

re “fascia melts with slow movment” etc -
Have you studied the micro anatomy and biochemistry of fascia? What kind of nerve networks? What quantity of nerves? How important is connexin activity in fascia 'biotensegrity'? etc.

Is there a way to implement these Zhan Zhuang and KMI/BodyTrains principles remotely, without hands on fascia work? For example, applying the work of Dr. Cobbs’s Z Health can be done without facilitation in 90% of cases. ( http://www.zhealth.net/ and a very good intro at http://robertkaufer.com/ ). Like Scott Sonnen's work, ZHealth is are more performance oriented instead of corrective. And btw, it emphasizes the central nervous system (and joints in relation to neural mapping) instead of fascia. ... more “age old exercises” rediscovered…

zdo

"He who only treats the site of pain is lost"

#12 sheng zhen

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Posted 30 June 2009 - 09:07 AM

sheng zhen,

re
Being an impatient ADD westerner, in day to day practice I so often forget that … thank you for reminding me. For almost ANY and ALL corrective work, the mantra needs to be ‘slow down and feltsense it’

re “fascia melts with slow movment” etc -
Have you studied the micro anatomy and biochemistry of fascia? What kind of nerve networks? What quantity of nerves? How important is connexin activity in fascia 'biotensegrity'? etc.

Is there a way to implement these Zhan Zhuang and KMI/BodyTrains principles remotely, without hands on fascia work? For example, applying the work of Dr. Cobbs’s Z Health can be done without facilitation in 90% of cases. ( http://www.zhealth.net/ and a very good intro at http://robertkaufer.com/ ). Like Scott Sonnen's work, ZHealth is are more performance oriented instead of corrective. And btw, it emphasizes the central nervous system (and joints in relation to neural mapping) instead of fascia. ... more “age old exercises” rediscovered…

zdo

"He who only treats the site of pain is lost"

Lots of questions I dont know the answer to here. I haven studied the fascia in detail. Yet! But I'm sure fascia will be revealed as a LOT more important than we currently believe.

I believe Zhan Zhuang actually is a way to implement the KMI/Structural Integration principles without the hands on fascia work. But Xing Shen Zhuang is even more directly activating the principles. And Im sure the methods you mentioned do that as well. I dont know anything about Scott Sonnon or Z Health other than what I saw from the other link a little further up this thread. Anyways, to do hands on fascia work enhances the Zhan Zhuang and qi gong and vice versa. The people who have qi-flow in their body responds a lot faster to fascial changes. They are a lot easier to work with than t.ex. bodybuilders or couch-potatoes.

To work with the joints in relation to neural mapping sounds interesting! Do you want to explain a little more about that?

By the way! On the Anatomy Trains site there is a 30 minute video for sale showing video of the fascia live in action! Its mindblowing!

Edited by sheng zhen, 30 June 2009 - 11:23 AM.


#13 Creation

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 07:15 AM

Lots of questions I dont know the answer to here. I haven studied the fascia in detail. Yet! But I'm sure fascia will be revealed as a LOT more important than we currently believe.

I believe Zhan Zhuang actually is a way to implement the KMI/Structural Integration principles without the hands on fascia work. But Xing Shen Zhuang is even more directly activating the principles. And Im sure the methods you mentioned do that as well. I dont know anything about Scott Sonnon or Z Health other than what I saw from the other link a little further up this thread. Anyways, to do hands on fascia work enhances the Zhan Zhuang and qi gong and vice versa. The people who have qi-flow in their body responds a lot faster to fascial changes. They are a lot easier to work with than t.ex. bodybuilders or couch-potatoes.

To work with the joints in relation to neural mapping sounds interesting! Do you want to explain a little more about that?

By the way! On the Anatomy Trains site there is a 30 minute video for sale showing video of the fascia live in action! Its mindblowing!

Hi Sheng Zhen.

Xing Shen Zhuang sounds interesting. Is it done standing, sitting, or both? How dynamic is it (i.e. how much holding of postures is there, how quick are the movements, etc.)? How many movements and/or postures are there and how long does it take to do them all? Where did you learn it?

Thanks,
Tyler

Edited by Creation, 01 July 2009 - 07:16 AM.

Amituofo


#14 sheng zhen

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 11:03 AM

Hi Sheng Zhen.

Xing Shen Zhuang sounds interesting. Is it done standing, sitting, or both? How dynamic is it (i.e. how much holding of postures is there, how quick are the movements, etc.)? How many movements and/or postures are there and how long does it take to do them all? Where did you learn it?

Thanks,
Tyler

Hello Creation.

XSZ is done standing. It is a "zhuang". It has both dynamic and static exercises. The more slowly the movements are the better, just like other qigong and dao yin. So one real good session lasts up to two hours. My practice lasts mostly 30-40 minutes... :rolleyes:

I learned it in Sweden: http://www.qigongins...t.se/index.aspx

#15 sasblamthanb

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 11:49 AM

sheng zhen,

Was walking the dogs early this morning and my massage therapist neighbor was coming out. We chatted and I mentioned that I had been looking at biotensegrity and her eyes lit up and she said she had a book about it. She went back inside and brought out Myers’s Anatomy Trains (!) and another book called Job’s Body by Deane Juhan for me to borrow. (…be careful what you ask for…right?)

re: “Lots of questions …here” Just took a chance that you had studied fascia at these levels. Who would be a good source to ask these same types of questions like ‘How important is connexin activity to fascia balance?’, etc.

re: “Xing Shen Zhuang is even more directly activating the principles” Will check it out. What are best sources for information instruction on the practices (and specifically spinal exercises) you are discussing? Thanks.

re: “To work with the joints in relation to neural mapping sounds interesting! Do you want to explain a little more about that?”
At the restorative level, here’s some content from Robert Kaufer -

Question … "What is Z Health and how do these goofy looking exercises help me?"

Answer
I think the main influence of the Z Health drills is to remove the "neurologic brakes"

"Jammed joints create muscular weakness."--Dr Cobb

If I injure my elbow, neurologically my body will start to shut down the muscles that cross my elbow (triceps, biceps, etc) in an effort to protect my body and reduce the risk of further damage. My body is trying really hard to protect itself which is pretty smart!

Now if that joint is not brought back up to 100% mobility, my body still has some "neurologically braking" going on, thus performance is not optimal. At some level, my body thinks that there still is an issue in my elbow and will be shutting down the muscles to some degree.

If that make sense, lets go even further in that the NS (nervous system) connects ALL the joints, so ANY joint that is not back to 100% mobility is going to dampen performance! Yes, that is a leap, but it makes logical sense (and I've seen it happen many times). So far, every chronic shoulder issue that I've helped someone with, I have yet to do anything with their shoulder! Most of the time it is the opposite foot/ankle, opposite hip, thoracic, or same side wrist. The body moves as a whole (hopefully or else you have some problems), so ALL the joints must be working optimally.

It is true that many times issues will follow the back force transmission line (think of your body as a big X where the force from your RIGHT foot can end up in your LEFT hand and LEFT jaw/face) , but not always. This is the reason to evaluate EACH drill that is performed. Physiology is messy, so you want to assess, not guess.


Nothing new here. Nothing incongruent with the ZZ, etc. material you are introducing. Cobb, the originator of ZHealth’s base orientation is applied kinesiology (with elevated influence from Feldenkriais, etc.) and acknowledges that his whole model is drawing from many eastern and western traditions and methods… ( and if the ‘internet stories’ are correct, he got the guts of most of his exercises as a student of Scott Sonnen :blink: )

At levels beyond recovery, ZHealth posits that high performance comes from accurate CNS realtime mapping and those maps are continuously built from chunking proprioceptive, visual and vestibular systems data. “If these maps are complete and accurate, then the nervous system is fully informed about the body and its surroundings. It then can lower the threat level” and perform at high levels. “If anyone of these systems (vision, vestibular or proprioceptive) is not functioning properly, the nervous system will ALWAYS be operating under threat mode.”Bob Kaufer. Zhealth posits that the Proprioceptive System (Receptors located throughout the body) is the one that lags for most individuals.
In the Zhealth model, the mechanoreceptors in the areas around the joints provide the fastest data for the Proprioceptive System component of the mapping so they are emphasized to sharpen and make the mapmaking more accurate. Whole body Dynamic joint mobility exercises are the foundation… again nothing new and nothing incongruent with this thread… hth

A mere six weeks ago I was totally ignorant of the work of Sonnen, ZHealth, and now Myers, ZZ in this light, etc. I enjoyed lifting weights and playing long, sweaty tennis matches for ‘fitness’. Then an issue in my left elbow showed up first triggered from overdoing weighted biceps stretches after curls and shortly thereafter I started having my right knee tighten up… started googling and even though I “hate “the pain and limits I’m starting to see it all as a blessing in disguise…


All the best,

zdo

Edited by sasblamthanb, 01 July 2009 - 11:50 AM.


#16 sheng zhen

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 12:22 PM

sheng zhen,

Was walking the dogs early this morning and my massage therapist neighbor was coming out. We chatted and I mentioned that I had been looking at biotensegrity and her eyes lit up and she said she had a book about it. She went back inside and brought out Myers’s Anatomy Trains (!) and another book called Job’s Body by Deane Juhan for me to borrow. (…be careful what you ask for…right?)

haha, fun! the Anatomy Trains is spreading like an explosion through the bodywork community all over the world! Pretty soon "everybody" will know about it and start incorporate the principles in their treatments.

Please tell me what you think of the other book when you've read it :)

re: “Lots of questions …here” Just took a chance that you had studied fascia at these levels. Who would be a good source to ask these same types of questions like ‘How important is connexin activity to fascia balance?’, etc.

You could try wrinting the people at www.anatomytrains.com. They have a forum there also. You can ask there. Or you can try writing the researcher that has the fascia-video for sale at www.anatomytrains.com. I dont remember his name.

re: “Xing Shen Zhuang is even more directly activating the principles” Will check it out. What are best sources for information instruction on the practices (and specifically spinal exercises) you are discussing? Thanks.

The XSZ that comes from www.traditionaltao.com is something very different than Zhineng Gong's Xing Shen Zhuang that is freely available all over the www. The exercises are pretty similar, but the traditionaltao XSZ is very much more effective, more specific, and a lot more hard work.

At levels beyond recovery, ZHealth posits that high performance comes from accurate CNS realtime mapping and those maps are continuously built from chunking proprioceptive, visual and vestibular systems data. “If these maps are complete and accurate, then the nervous system is fully informed about the body and its surroundings. It then can lower the threat level” and perform at high levels. “If anyone of these systems (vision, vestibular or proprioceptive) is not functioning properly, the nervous system will ALWAYS be operating under threat mode.”Bob Kaufer. Zhealth posits that the Proprioceptive System (Receptors located throughout the body) is the one that lags for most individuals.
In the Zhealth model, the mechanoreceptors in the areas around the joints provide the fastest data for the Proprioceptive System component of the mapping so they are emphasized to sharpen and make the mapmaking more accurate. Whole body Dynamic joint mobility exercises are the foundation… again nothing new and nothing incongruent with this thread… hth

Aha, so that is what you ment by neurological mapping. Yes, the proprioceptors do magic! There are some physiotherapists in norway doing miraculus healings on all kinds of diseases just by giving people different balancing exercises to activate the proprioceptors and thereby enhancing the body-mind connection. They say the brains image of the body becomes updated to the real position of the body. The neurological map of the body in the brain corresponds better to the actual reality. And that seem to be able to heal enything from deep social fear to chronic and unclear diseases.

They also emphazise to practice balance exercises with closed eyes to activate the proprioceptors more.

There are lots of new perspectives on this and lots of new treatments popping up. But I really like the idea that this is what qigong-people have been doing for thousands of years. Its not new!!! Its just a more detailed anatomical and neurological description.


I just wanted to add some thoughts on that example in the quote you posted. It seems to be an intuitive understanding(based on a lot of experience) of some of the Anatomy Trains meridians. He looks at the spiral line or the functional line(opposite ankle/hip to the shoulder).

The Anatomy Trains is not intuitive. Its THERE, its dissectable! Its not some postulated theory or only available for those with the correct energetic initiation or their third eye open. Its real and immediately applicable to any bodywork. I imagine he could do even more for his clients if he also knew about the other wholebody lines.

Edited by sheng zhen, 01 July 2009 - 12:43 PM.





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