Constant Bear


Of all the methods of training and the many Qi Gong exercises I’ve learned, the Constant Bear continues to be my favorite of all. While from the outside, the practitioner seems to just be swinging/twisting the body from left to right and vice-versa, internally there’s a myriad of processes going on and it seems that with each practice, I uncover a new layer of understanding of this magnificent routine.



When I first started practicing the CB, I shifted my weight from one foot to the other while swinging. This I did to keep with the idea of avoiding the state of being double weighted. Today I do not practice like that. My understanding of double weighted has change and now I keep my weight in the middle between my feet. However, I continue to differentiate yin from yang on my posture and in my footwork.  In other words, I’m learning to internalize my awareness of weight distribution.

Lately, my focus and awareness has been placed on my feet. I am processing the input from the pressure I apply to each individual foot as it presses into the ground, spiraling a twisting force up my leg into my hip joint, which is then transfered to my sacrum. From there my spine rotates at the junction of the sacrum and lumbar joint spiraling the swing back down through my opposite leg.

The sensation is phenomenal. Keep in mind that all of this takes place without any outward manifestation other than my upper body swinging. From the outside you cannot see my knees turning, nor my hips going back and forth. All that is seen is my upper body swinging.

I have also started using 15 pound weights which I hold while gently swinging the upper body. The same process described above takes place except that I am much more mindful of the range of my swing. Avoiding a wide arc while being conscious of the core musculature around my mid torso. Say from around T-7 to L-5 or there abouts.  At times I concentrate on the deep muscles along side my vertebrae such as the rotator groups which are on the transverse processes, both the deep and superficial layers of the multifidus muscles.  These are not big muscles, but their function is very important for extension and rotation. I do not advice new comers to the Constant Bear to practice with weights. It is very important to have learned to being relaxed and to maintain proper body alignments first.

When not using the weights, I direct my attention to the larger group of muscles on my back such as the lower erector spinae and to the internal and external obliques on the lateral aspect of my torso.

We should also keep in mind that the full name of the exercise is The Constant Bear and The Looking Owl. The Looking Owl part, instructs us on the way the head should be kept. In other words, the head does not turn with the upper body. Instead, it stays fixed looking forward. Now, think about this: if the rotation of the torso takes place from the junction of the lumbar to the sacrum, and the head stays fixed facing forward, this means, then, that the spine is rotating on an axis starting on T-1 to L-5. Thus the junction of C-7 to T-1 and L-5 to S-1 must by virtue of the rotation of the thoracic and lumbar spine be receiving mild rotation and keeping its own range of motion in a healthy state.  This would not happen if the sacrum and the head rotated along with the thoraco-lumbar component.

Above all, when practicing the Constant Bear, the most important aspect is to remain relaxed and the shoulders down with natural breathing.

WOW.  Thanks. What a lot to think about and try.  I think the thing that most impresses me in this “new” for me idea is the change in focus from my pressing down with the legs as I turn the upper body to feeling the or trying to feel the energy and spirling coming UP….it makes so much sense.
I also thank you for reminding us about the head.  I had forgotten what you had taught.  Yes, the excietment of the new and the relearning the old.  I never tire of this art.

Thank you again for sharing your understanding and allowing us to grow. wh

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/31 at 05:01 AM

In Cheng Man cheng"s intructions on the constant bear exersizehe states that the head must stay erect and in line with the naval. Meaning that the body and head move as one not as you describe.  Keep the head static as you do describe would be both unatural and impede the rise of energy to the head top. Using wieghts also seems at odds with relaxation at whatever stage your at.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/03 at 12:01 PM

Hi Ben,

Thanks for your input…  I guess there are more than one way to swing.

When I practice the CB, my nose and navel stay in one plane. If I practiced the CB by swinging from my hips, then, as you state, I would need to move my head to stay in alignment with my navel. But I don’t. I separate my waist from my hips..

As far as the weights goes, I find that I can be relaxed holding the weights in the same way that I would be relaxed during an application. Just enough muscular contraction to accomplish the task at hand.  I should also emphasize that the swings, while holding the weights, are very small in amplitude.  I do not wish to generate too much torque. 

Thanks for the input.



Posted by fbernall on 08/13 at 08:48 AM

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