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The Kua-What Is it? Where Is It?

posted 2 Aug 2019, 03:03 by WestDevon Tai Chi   [ updated 8 Aug 2019, 07:10 by Mandy Moor ]

Often a mystery for a long time, for beginners and some experienced practitioners, the kua does require some thought, attention and encouragement to release.  

The kua is the muscle on both sides at the inguinal crease; where the torso meets the legs. It can be seen as the central hub co-ordinating the upper and lower body. The muscles of the kua connect the legs to the spine-the iliopsoas muscle connects the lumbar vertebrae to the pelvis and femur (thigh bone), the adductors connect the pelvis to the femur. The springiness of the spine and legs is partially determined by the elasticity of the iliopsoas muscles.

The inguinal crease at the top of the legs is where the largest collection of lymph nodes in the body can be found. Lymph is a critical component of the body’s immune response system. Unlike blood, which is moved by the heart and vascular system, lymph is basically moved by muscular contractions. Nature is very wise-every time we walk or move our arms and legs, large lymph collectors (at the inguinal crease, or the armpits, for example) are activated, thus moving our lymph. Taiji simply increases this natural phenomenon, thereby strengthening a very important component of the immune system. Increasing the movement of the internal elements of the kua is one of the most significant and unique contributions to the health effects of Taiji and chi-enhancing body practises.

Relaxing or sinking the kua is a term frequently mentioned in Taiji practise. Through the relaxed (song) kua, together with the spiral turning of the waist, weight change in the lower body is smooth and the upper body is then able to take on a feeling of lightness. ‘Releasing’ gets you out of the habitual hip tension that prevails in our culture. It takes time for the kua to release, loosen and relax, due to tension in the body and lower back muscles being too tight. Forcing the kua to relax or sink causes more tension to be created. Continual work in progress for sure!

Everyone who attends my classes is well familiar with some form of squatting in whatever warm up routine we do. Squatting is an excellent way to begin stretching the muscles of the kua and developing flexibility. Being able to squat successfully improves hip, ankle and spinal mobility, stability and leg strength, and promotes healthy digestive and elimination functions. Any form of squatting can be challenging and, yet, with daily practice it becomes easier as the joints and spine get stronger, more mobile and more stable. A good practise is to squat to pick things off the floor or low shelves, or for lifting or putting down heavy objects. It is worth remembering that in reality squatting is a basic fundamental human movement rather than an ‘exercise’ to torture ourselves. There are many other exercises to help relax the kua and work in this area will help you reap the benefits in your Taiji practice and everyday life. 

'Happy Squatting’

Lammas blessings to you all