Zhan Zhuang | Chinese Standing Meditation

Published: Feb 17, 2021 | Revised: Jan 26, 2024
Edited by: Marce Ferreira

Zhan Zhuang | Chinese Standing Meditation

Zhan Zhuang is a standing meditative training method often practiced within the Chinese internal martial arts. The roots of the practice are thought to lie in ancient Taoist health promoting techniques.

There are various translations used for the phrase Zhan Zhuang, such as Standing Like a Post, Standing on Stake, Standing Qigong, Standing Like a Tree, Post Standing, Foundation Standing, to just give you a few examples.

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The emphasis in Zhan Zhuang is on stillness in standing (taking up certain poses and positions) rather than on movement. Nonetheless, movement takes also place, for instance in the warm up and cool down phase, in transitions from one pose to another pose, and in some special exercises.

The duration of a single posture held can take up a few minutes or even up to an hour or more for advanced practitioners. The beginning of learning this practice can be physically challenging, with your body reacting heavily by twitching muscles, severe muscle fatigue, shaking and trembling. In time, when the body gets stronger, these symptoms go away.

Some see a similarity between the Zhan Zhuang static postures and Yoga Asanas — notably like carried out in Yin Yoga — and have called Zhan Zhuang “Chinese Yoga”. Nevertheless, the practice is rather considered a form of Qigong, sometimes even taken as the basis for some of the Chinese martial arts modalities, such as Yiquan (occasionally also called Chinese Boxing).

Zhan Zhuang is perceived as a discipline within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Like many other TCM practices, Zhan Zhang is primarily focused on removing blockages in the free flow of Qi Life Energy. The practical goal of this practice then is to eliminate structural physical tensions, correct postural imbalances, and stimulate overall energy, mental clarity, and internal strength.

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