By Angela Slezak
After returning from Taiwan long ago and having recently learned qi gong, a practice involving postures and breath locks, I was stunned to see in Pre-Columbian art qi gong postures I had just learned.
Take Ohio’s State Artifact, the Adena pipe. If you view this object at the Ohio History Connection in Columbus, Ohio, you’ll find the placard notices that the “knees are bent.”
(Photo from Ohio History Connection Website)
Those familiar with Asian martial arts recognize this as a narrow-kneed “horse stance.” The goal of the horse stance (to my understanding) is to have a straight back so that the energy can flow unobstructed upwards.
And what is the deal with Adena pipe’s underwear? Note the swirling images that evoke the intestines, a snake, or possibly patterned clothing.
The location just below the belly is referred to in qi gong as the “dantian” or “sea of qi.” Qi is the “ki” of reiki and prana in Hindu philosophy and refers to vital energy. I would provide the ancient English word but we don’t have one. This concept is not described in our lexicon in the way meant by “qi” in Asia.
Those familiar with tai chi practice are familiar with “rolling the ball” which involves circular movement in front of the belly. The pattern we see on Adena man is quite reminiscent of that motion.
The Adena pipe has an open mouth. In qi gong breathing, you are putting your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Lots of Pre-Columbian art pieces have this open mouth.
Anthropologists have also seen Asian-like martial arts postures in Pre-Columbian art and culture. Felicitas Goodman and Nana Nauwald wrote a book entitled Ecstatic Trance.
Carlos Castaneda who wrote books about his apprenticeship with a Mexican shaman was taught body postures which he formed into a practice called Tensegrity. While Castaneda’s veracity is in question in the anthropological community, it’s still interesting to note in his later works that his teacher describes their shamanic lineage which includes a man from China.
Archaeological and anthropological interpretation has become more creative in the past few decades. Traditionally in the face of the unknown, much of our archaeological and anthropological interpretation is a vague “religious ritual.”
Pyramids are present throughout the world. Why not body postures for health and well being?