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  • Writer's pictureCheryl Cunningham

Lu Jong - Five Elements Practice - Perfect for a busy life!

Lu Jong is a healing yoga practice introduced to the West by Tibetan Buddhist Master TULKU LOBSANG RINPOCHE. Rinpoche, a doctor of Tibetan medicine, noticed that in the West we lead very busy lives, that we are stressed and lack flexibility. He put together this collection of Lu Jong exercises and modified them for the Western, less mobile body. The practice is suitable for people of all ages and abilities.

In the Tibetan language, "Lu" means body and "Jong“ means transformation. This practice is designed to transform body and mind, build strength, flexibility and balance, calm the mind and reduce negative emotions. It is intended to flow and be like a moving meditation. According to Bon and Tantryana beliefs, when we are able to transform the three impure parts of ourselves (body, speech and mind), we are able to achieve the diamond-like vajra body and can then experience absolute happiness.

The Five Elements Tibetan yoga practice begins with the Nine Breaths. This is an alternating nostril breathing practice that encourages the breath to go deeply into our mother or central channel. The breath is long and slow, then strong, and finally short and sharp as we alternate between nostrils on the inhale and exhale. The effect of this breath practice is to feel that we are breathing more fully afterwards, our mind is quieter and we have connected with the body.

Next is a Kum Nye Massage practice. For each of the five elements we use a different self massage stroke to prepare the body for the Five Elements Movements that follow. The first massage technique is the fire element where we use a rubbing action to bring warmth into the muscles. This is followed by the earth element where we use a soft fist to create a vibration into the body. Next is the wind element where we use a very light touch to create a tingling sensation and to stimulate the nerve endings. Our fourth technique represents the water element which uses the flat of the hand flowing down the body. Finally we finish with the space element which involves shaking out the shoulders and hips.

We now set our intention to practice by placing our hands into motivation posture. As part of this we take five breaths and with each pair of breaths, focus on five things that we are truly grateful for.

Having prepared the body and mind for practice with the Nine Breaths and Kum Nye massage, we begin the Five Elements Movements practice. Each of the five movements are done standing and each movement is linked to one of the five elements.

The opening movement represents the space element Nangmo Chu Tung/Tibetan Goose Drinking Water and is a wide legged forward fold. The breath is very important during practice so that we breathe in during the part of the movement that requires the most exertion to protect our channels. The channels run through the body and carry energy. This movement prepares the body for the movements to come and helps to ground us. Each element is done three, five or seven times. The full practice is seven repetitions of each element.

Drongmo Sur Dung/Wild Yak Rubbing Its Shoulder In The Mud represents the earth element. The movement is a wide leg gentle lunge and rotation to help open the naval chakra and ground us. The breathing during this movement is more challenging and requires a little practice. This movement helps to mobilise the lower back. We always begin on the left side.

Kyanmo Nyel Tab/Wild Horse Lying Down. This movement is similar to the wild yak, but uses a narrower stance to challenge our balance. This movement represents the wind element, opens the heart chakra and mobilises the upper back.

Trayi Lung Zin/Falcon Turning In The Wind represents the fire element and is a forward fold that opens into a gentle chest and throat stretch. This movement opens the heart chakra as the feet are together allowing wisdom in.

Ling Shi Ta Dril/New Mountain Arising Between Four Continents is the fifth element and represents water. This movement requires engagement by the whole body as the arms lift and lower. The hand position is precise and creates a sense of pushing and pulling between the arms.

In between each of the five elements movements we use a breath exercise or

Lung Ro Sel/Exhaling The Waste Wind. This practice encourages us to breathe deeply and to move the "subtle wind" through the body. In Tibetan Buddhism health and wellbeing are linked to the smooth flow of the "subtle wind" in our bodies.

Following the Five Elements Movements the mind is naturally calmer and this is the ideal time for a mindful Meditation. We use a cross legged position on the floor or sit on a chair with the feet connected to the floor and the back long and away from the back of the chair. Hands rest in calm position, with the right hand resting inside the left palm with the thumb pads resting together. The guided meditation connects our body and mind through the breath, quietening the mind and helping us to be fully present.

We finish with the Relaxation Positions. There are positions for each of the elements, but I tend to favour the earth and water positions, one of which you may know as savasana or corpse pose.

Through the Lu Jong Five Elements practice we develop body awareness, build strength in particular in the legs, mobilise are spines, improve our balance and flexibility, as well as increasing our energy, calming our minds and deepening our breath.

"When we work with the five elements we can change our body, mind and energy very quickly. Balancing the elements within ourselves affects our health and happiness in a deep way."

Having a regular practice in our life that balances the elements is very powerful for our overall wellbeing. We also train the mind, increasing focus and quieting distracting thoughts.

We deal with negative emotions, turning them into positives, and have more happiness as a result.

If you would like to experience a Lu Jong class, then please contact me using the Contact page.

Currently classes run on a Tuesday and Thursday morning at 9.30am on Zoom.

An evening class will be added shortly and occasionally a workshop will be arranged for those who would like to understand more about the Tibetan practices.

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