Zhàn Zhuāng 站桩
Dynamic Equilibrium: Stand as a Daily Practice

“You’ve been swimming in gravity since the day you were born. Every cell knows where down is. Easily forgotten. Your mass and the earth’s mass calling to each other…”___Steve Paxton

This is a bilingual(Chinese/English) guide I recorded for my own daily practice. I recommend that you can play this recording at the beginning of your stand (8.5 minutes), and stand as long as you wish afterwards.

Yin Haolong · Zhanzhuang

From a different perspective by Steve Paxton, also known as "Small Dance", this is another recording from his book Gravity.

The AMAM · Audio recording of Steve Paxton guiding “The Small Dance”

More information and versions of this stand in different languages can be accessed here or from Contact Quarterly Website. And this is a great article Why Standing? by Steve Paxton.

The following texts are some practices from Feldenkrais, from his chapter what's good posture in the book Awareness through Movement. I made the Chinese translation.

Swinging while standing

Stand and try to let your body swing lightly from side to side, as though it were a tree being bent by the wind. Pay attention to the movement of the spine and the head. Continue to make 10 to 15 small and quiet movements like this until you can observe a connection between these movements and your breathing. Then try similar movements backward and forward instead of sideways. You will soon observe that the movement backward is easier and larger, in most cases, than the forward movement, during which a certain amount of strain will be sensed in the ankles.

站立,试着让你的身体轻轻地左右摆动,就像一棵被风吹弯的树。注意脊柱和头部的运动。 继续做10到15次这样的小幅度而安静的动作,直到你可以观察到这些动作与呼吸之间的联系。 然后尝试在前后的方向尝试同样的摆动。 你很快就会发现,在大多数情况下,向后运动比向前运动更容易、幅度更大,在此过程中,脚踝会感觉到一定程度的紧张。

The points of strain vary with the individual. Only in rare cases will there be so perfect an organization of all the muscles of the chest—including those of the shoulders, the collarbone, the nape of the neck, the ribs, and the diaphragm—that you will be able to observe a continuous relationship between forward and backward movements and the process of breathing, as in the previous movements sideways.


Now move the body so that the top of the head marks a circle in a horizontal plane. Continue until you can feel that all the work is being done by the lower half of the legs and that all the movement can be felt in the ankles. Try swinging sideways again, and then backward and forward and in circles, in both directions, but this time let the weight of the body rest mainly on the right foot, while only the big toe of the left foot touches the floor. The left leg should take no part in the movement except to the extent that it helps the body to maintain its balance and makes it possible to carry out the movements accurately without interfering with breathing. Repeat these movements with most of the weight on the left foot. Repeat each of these movements 20 to 30 times until they can be carried out as smoothly and comfortably as possible.

现在移动身体,使头顶在水平面上画出一个圆圈。继续,直到你能感觉到所有的工作都由腿的下半部分完成,并且所有的运动都可以在脚踝处感觉到。 再次尝试侧身摆动,然后前后摆动,转圈,改变转圈的方向,这次让身体的重量主要落在右脚上,而只有左脚的大脚趾接触地板。 左腿不应该参与动作,左腿只是伸展,以助于身体保持平衡,并且可以在不影响呼吸的情况下准确地进行动作。之后交替将大部分重量放在左脚上,重复这些动作。每个动作重复 20 到 30 次,直到它们可以尽可能流畅和舒适地进行。

Movement while sitting

Sit on the front edge of a chair. Place your feet on the floor, fairly far apart, and relax the muscles of the legs until the knees can be moved sideways and also forward in an easy movement from the ankles. In this position move the trunk from side to side until a light swinging movement is obtained that is coordinated with similarly smooth breathing. After a pause begin similar move- ments forward and backward until you become aware of movement in the hip joints and the pelvis, and of the backward and forward movement of the knees.

坐在椅子的前缘。 把你的脚放在地板上,两脚分开,放松腿部的肌肉,直到膝盖可以从脚踝轻松地向侧面移动,也可以向前移动。 在这个位置上,将躯干从一侧移动到另一侧,直到获得与同样平稳的呼吸相协调的轻微摆动运动。 暂停后开始类似的前后运动,直到你意识到髋关节和骨盆的运动,以及膝盖的前后运动。

Now move the trunk in a circular path in such a way that the top of the head marks a circle, the head being supported on the spine as on a rod. There should be no changes in the relative positions of the vertebrae, the spine moving as though it were fastened to the chair at its lower end, near the coccyx, with the head balanced on its upper end; the head draws its circles as though the spine were the delimiting line of a cone standing on its point. Reverse the direction of the movement and continue until all hindrances to the movement disappear and it becomes continuous, fluid, and smooth.

现在以圆形路径移动上身躯干,让头顶画出一个圆圈,头部像支撑在杆上一样支撑在脊柱上。椎骨间彼此的相对位置应该没有变化,脊柱移动时就好像它的下端靠近尾骨处固定在椅子上,头部在上端保持平衡; 头部画出它的圆圈,就好像脊柱是一个立在它的支撑点上的圆锥体路径。改变方向并继续此运动,直到运动的所有障碍都消失,并且运动变得连续、流畅和流畅。

The dynamic link between standing and sitting

We have now reached the most important point of all: the dynamic link between sitting and standing. Most people feel that the change from sitting to standing requires effort; without knowing it they gird themselves for this effort by contracting the muscles at the back of the neck, thereby drawing the head back and pointing the chin forward. This superfluous muscular effort stems from wanting to stiffen the chest for the effort to be made by the legs mainly in the extensors of the knees, the muscles that straighten the knees. We shall see this effort is also superfluous. All these movements indicate the intention to get up by means of a vigorous movement of the head, which draws the whole weight of the trunk behind it.

我们现在已经到了最重要的一点:坐和站之间的动态联系。 大多数人觉得从坐到站的变化需要用力;很多人在没有意识的情况下,通过收缩颈部后部的肌肉来为自己做好准备,从而将头部向后拉并将下巴指向前方。这种多余的肌肉力量源于想要使胸腔部位变硬,让腿部能够通过膝盖的伸直进行发力,即伸直膝盖的肌肉收缩。我们将观察到这种努力也是多余的。所有这些动作都表明了站立起身的运动意图是通过头部开始的,头部将整个躯干的重量拉到了身体的后方。

Concerning the voluntary control and the old reflex control, as we have called them, the interference consists of the fact that the feet press down on the floor in a voluntary movement before the body's center of gravity has moved forward over the soles of the feet. When the center of gravity has really moved forward over the feet a reflex movement will originate in the old nervous system and straighten the legs; this automatic movement will not be felt as an effort at all.


The conscious pressing on the floor with the feet usually takes place too soon, before the reflex stimulus is at its height. As voluntary control is overriding in slow movements, it is liable in this case to interfere with the primitive reflex control and prevent the movement from being carried out in the natural, organic, and efficient way. Our awareness must discern this organic need. Such discernment is perhaps the truest "knowledge of self."


The interference that develops is as follows: When the feet are pressed down too soon in the attempt to straighten the legs, the pelvis is held forcibly in place and its upper part may even be pushed back a little. Rising is attempted by the stomach muscles, which pull the head forward and down. But the body will fall back into a sitting position if the momentum of this movement is insufficient to raise the weight of the pelvis onto the legs, which are stiffened in an unyielding position and do not bend at the knee and ankle joints. Such failure to complete the movement may be observed among old or enfeebled persons who are not strong enough to carry out the superfluous efforts described above in addition to the effort actually needed to get up, although the latter is relatively small and within the capacity of even the old or weak.

出现的干扰如下:当双脚下压太快以试图伸直双腿时,骨盆会被强行固定到一个位置,其上部甚至可能会稍微向后推。 腹部肌肉尝试上升,它将头部向前和向下拉动。但是,如果这个动作的动量不足以将骨盆的重量提升到腿上,身体就会倒回坐姿,腿在没有沉入重力支持的情况下会变硬,阻碍膝关节和踝关节的自由弯曲。这种未能完成坐到站动作的情况可能发生在年老或虚弱的人身上,他们除了起身实际需要的努力外,没有足够的力量进行上述多余的努力,尽管起身实际需要的努力相对是很小的,甚至年老或虚弱的人都可以有能力完成。

Measure your mistakes and improvement

Place bathroom scales under your feet while sitting down before you begin the following exercise. Then get up in your accustomed manner. When you place your feet on the scales, you will observe that the needle will move to a point marking approximately a quarter of your weight as the weight of your legs. Stand up and watch the needle while you are doing so. The needle will swing far beyond the point marking your weight, return to a lower point, oscillate backward and forward, and finally come to rest at the right figure.


在开始以下练习之前,坐下来将浴室里用的体重秤放在脚下。 然后以你习惯的方式站起来。当你将脚放在体重秤上时,你会观察到指针将移动到大约相当于你腿部重量四分之一的点。站起来并注意针头。指针将摆动到远远超出标记你体重的点,然后回到较低点,并在之间摆动,最后停在正确的体重位置。

When you think that you have improved in getting up, check again with the scales. If the movement is now efficient you will find that the pointer moves gradually, parallel to your rising, and no longer swings past the correct figure for your weight. This shows that the movement no longer involves superfluous acceleration. If you try to calculate how much wasted effort you have now saved, you will also see how little effort is necessary to get up properly.


Now sit on the front edge of the chair again and let your body rock forward and backward in movements that continue to be- come larger but without any sudden increase in effort at any point.


Avoid all direct intention to get up, for this will result in the unnoticed return to your habitual manner of getting up. No effort greater than that involved in the rocking movement is actually required to get up. How is it done? Here are several aids that are all worth trying, even if you succeed with the first:

避免所有直接站立起身的意图,因为这会导致你在没有觉知的情况下,回到习惯的起身方式。实际上,站起来不需要比摇摆运动更大的力气。 它是如何完成的? 即使你在第一个方面取得了成功,以下几种辅助方法都值得尝试:

1. Avoid conscious mobilization of the leg muscles. During the forward movement think about lifting the knees and feet from the floor, so that the swing forward will not make you contract the muscles of the thigh, whose function is to straighten the legs. The contraction of these muscles results in increased pressure of the feet on the floor. The pelvis will now leave the chair without any additional effort and the sitting position will change into the standing position.


2. Avoid conscious mobilization of the neck muscles. During the swinging backward and forward catch hair at the top of your head and pull it gently in line with the cervical spine so lightly that you can feel whether the neck muscles are being tensed. When there is no tensing of the nape muscles in the forward swing, there is no sudden extra pressure through the feet, and the movement forward will—after a few attempts—bring the body into the standing position without any change in breathing, that is, without any superfluous effort by the chest.


Repeat this exercise using the left hand to hold the hair on the head. There is usually a difference in effect between the two hands.


3. Cease intention to get up. The movement forward should be continued to the point at which an effort is felt in the legs and breathing apparatus, that is, the point at which the rhythmical movement is arrested and muscular effort increases. At this point rising is no longer a continuation of the previous movement but a sudden jerking effort. Stop all further movement and remain frozen in the position in which the swinging movement ceased; Halt the intention to get up and see which part of the body relaxes as a result. This is the effort that was superfluous to correct getting up. This is not easy, and you will have to pay close attention to detect it. If you stop the intention to rise, the frozen position immediately becomes as comfortable as sitting down, and it becomes equally easy to complete the movement into the upright position or to sit down again.

3. 停止站立起身的意图。向前摆动应持续到腿部和呼吸感到用力的点,即节奏运动停止且肌肉用力增加的点。此时的上升不再是先前动作的延续,而是突然的往上猛拉。停止所有进一步的运动,并保持静止在摆动运动停止的位置; 停止站立起身的意图,看看身体的哪个部位因此而放松。这是纠正站立起身过程中多余的努力。这并不容易,你必须密切注意才能发现它。如果你停止了起身的意图,静止的姿势立即变得像坐下一样舒适,并且完成到直立位置的运动,或再次坐下也变得同样容易。

4. Rhythmical knee movements. Sit on the edge of a chair, place your feet on the ground comfortably, far apart. Now start moving your knees together and apart several times, until the movement becomes rhythmical, regular, and easy. Catch the hair at the top of your head and bring yourself into a standing position without any interruption in the movement of your knees. If the body is not properly organized the movement of the knees will falter, if only for a moment, or else you will try to get up at the exact moment when the knees are at one of the end positions of their movement, either farthest apart or close together. In either of these positions the knees can cease their movement without its being noticeable.


5. Separating action from intention. One of the requirements of improved action is to separate action from intention, as in the following exercise, which is both an aid to learning and a means to test the quality of the action performed.

5. 将行动与意图分开。改进行动的要求之一是将行动与意图分开,如下面的练习所示,这既是学习的辅助,也是测试所执行的行动质量的手段。

Sit on a chair as before, with the back of another chair in front of you. Rest your hands on the back of the chair in front and, instead of thinking about getting up, think about raising your seat and at the same time get up. While you are standing, place your hands on the back of the chair in front of you and, instead of thinking about sitting down, think that you will lower your seat back onto the chair, and complete the movement with this in your mind.


Placing your seat on the chair is a means of sitting down, just as raising it is a means of getting up. In this way your attention is focused on the means by which the action is performed, not on the intention of performing it. Many people are able to rise or sit down in this fashion without thinking about what they are doing. The action is properly carried out when it makes no difference whether the performer thinks about the intention or about the means of carrying it out. When the action is faulty an observer can tell at once which of the two modes of thought the performer was following during the movement.

将座位放在椅子上是坐下的一种方式,就像抬起座位是起身的一种方式一样。 这样,你的注意力就集中在执行该动作的方式上,而不是执行该动作的意图上。许多人能够以这种方式起身或坐下,而无需思考自己在做什么。当该行动得到正确执行时,执行者的注意力放在意图或执行手段两者并无区别。当动作出现错误时,外在观察者可以立即辨别出执行者在动作过程中遵循的是两种思维模式中的哪一种。

Concentration on the aim may cause excessive tension

It is easy to shift your attention from the aim of a simple action to the means of its performance and to carry out the latter. In a complicated action, the greater the desire to achieve its aim, the greater will be the difference in its performance according to which of the two modes of thinking are adopted.

你很容易就能将注意力从简单行动的目的转移到其执行的手段上,并专注于后者。 在一项复杂的行动中,实现目标的欲望越大,采用两种思维方式得到的不同结果的差异就越大。

A too-strong wish for the aim often causes internal tension. This tension not only hinders your achieving the desired aim, but may even endanger life—as, for instance, in crossing a road, when the aim is at all costs to catch a bus on the other side and attention is diverted completely from the surroundings.

对目标过于强烈的愿望往往会导致内心紧张。这种紧张不仅会阻碍你实现预期目标,甚至可能危及生命——例如,过马路时,当你的目标是不惜一切代价赶上另一边的公共汽车,你的注意力会完全忽视周围的环境 。

Performance is improved by the separation of the aim from the means


In most cases where an action is linked to a strong desire, the efficiency of the action may be improved by separating the aim from the means of achieving it. A motorist in a desperate hurry to reach his destination, for instance, will fare better if he entrusts the wheel to a man who is a good driver but not desperate to reach the destination in time.


Serious obstacles to performance may occur when both the action and the achievement of the aim depend on the old section of the nervous system—old in the evolutionary sense—over which our control is in-voluntary. These actions might include sex, falling asleep, or evacuation of the bowels. The action may be performed as if the aim were the means, and sometimes as though the means were the aim. It is therefore good to study this problem when both the aim and the means are simple in order to apply the understanding so gained to more important actions.

当行动和目标的实现都依赖于神经系统的古老部分(在进化意义上是古老的)时,我们对其控制是不自觉的,就会出现严重的绩效障碍。 这些行为可能包括性行为、入睡或排便。 行动可能会被视为目的就是手段,有时甚至手段就是目的。 因此,当目的和手段都很简单时,是研究这个问题的最好时机,以便将由此获得的理解应用于更重要的行动。

Efficient force acts in the direction of the movement

Sit on the edge of a chair and place the tips of the fingers of your right hand on the top of your head. The contact should be light enough to make it possible to detect changes in tension in the nape of the neck. Raise and lower your chin (by moving the muscles of the nape and neck) and observe whether your fingertips record the movement of the head.


Increase the movement of your head forward and upward by moving your hip joints until your seat rises from the chair and you are standing, but without a sudden increase of effort in the legs at any stage of the movement.


You will see that control of the movement by the fingertips and the smooth upward action to standing have organized the chest muscles so that the ribs and chest hang from the spine and are not stiffened by the muscles.


For the weight of the chest to be taken by the spine and for breathing to be free during the entire movement, the effort made by the muscles of the hip joints must be so directed that the resultant force will go through the spine itself. No parasitic forces should develop that will cause a change in the angle of the head and the neck vertebrae or induce curvature in the spine.


Before this movement can become precise and effective, practice must increase the feeling of ease and power until you no longer try to brace yourself for the effort by holding your breath or tensing your chest. The tendency to hold one's breath is instinctive, part of an attempt to prevent the establishment of shearing stresses or forces likely to shift the vertebrae horizontally, out of the vertical alignment of the spinal column that they constitute.


As long as superfluous effort is invested in any action, man must throw up defenses, must brace himself to great effort that is neither comfortable, pleasurable, nor desirable. The lack of choice of whether to make an effort or not turns an action into habit, and in the end nothing appears more natural than that to which he is accustomed, even if it is opposed to all reason or necessity.


Habit makes it easier to persist in an action, and for this reason it is extremely valuable in general. Nevertheless we easily over indulge in habits until self-criticism is silenced and our ability to discern is diminished, which gradually turns us into machines that act without thinking.