Qigong Theory

Qigong (pronounced chee-gong) is an ancient Chinese exercise and healing technique that involves meditation, controlled breathing and movement exercises.

In this context, Qi  is a concept from traditional Chinese culture that roughly means vital energy, information, breath or spirit.

BaDuanJin-colorThe second character in qigong, “gong,” means cultivation or mastery, Qigong is therefore sometimes translated as “vital energy cultivation” or “mastery of your energy.”

 There are many forms of qigong practiced throughout the world. Some of these forms involve breathing and meditation to promote spirituality and health while others are more vigorous and include martial arts exercises.

 

Ba Duan Jin – The Eight Treasures8-Brocades-1-8pic-copy_f_improf_547x188

Eight Pieces Brocade is so called for the silk scroll discovered in 1979 and dated to the Western Han dynasty (206 BC to AD24) which shows 44 drawings of people practicing movements like the ones found in Baduanjin.

Practised mindfully, these simple Qigong exercises help to regulate blood pressure, stimulate the organs of the body, stretch muscles and ligaments, improve digestion and balance and help lift the spirits.

The way we move and breath, stand and walk, even sit, can have positive effect on the way we feel and on our general health. Stress, anxiety, extreme emotions are often the cause of many physical illnesses. Conventional exercises are very often only beneficial to the physical conditions but not the root of the problems, thus provide very little effect in combating the actual conditions.  A series of movements were developed over hundreds of years ago that are designed work with the psychological as well as the physical aspect. These exercises have become known as the ‘Eight Treasures’ or ‘Eight Pieces of Brocade’ because of the priceless benefits that they bring to those of us who can spare a little time each day to practice them.

The following demonstration is from Faye Yip and is the British Health Qi Gong short version – there are many versions!

 

 

8B

They are invaluable in helping us maintain the ‘Three Treasures’:

 

Jing – The essence, or, in modern terms, our DNA.
Shen – Spirit – the energy of the creative mind.
Chi – The life-force, emanating from the interaction between Yin and Yang.

Ba duan jin Instructions

These exercises improve flexibility, strength, balance control and body alignment and co-ordination. It is an ideal prevention exercise for those who are at risk of falling and for cardiac patients, as it doesn’t demand strenuous cardio-vascular output.

 

Preparation stance:

Feet together, body should be relax and upright, arms hang naturally on the side. Tongue touches the upper roof of the mouth. Clear the mind of all thoughts and worries. Look straight ahead into the horizon. Slowly bring you focus into the body and abdomen. Crown of the head gently pushes up to keep the body upright, shoulders relaxed.

One – Holding up heaven and harmonize the three central energy areas.

 Movement:

  • Stand erect and relaxed, with the crown of the head pushing upwards, chin slightly tucked. Feet are shoulder-width apart, eyes looking forward.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply. Raise both arms up from each side drawing a big circle all the way to the top with finger tips are pointing, above your head. Palms are facing upwards.
  • Exhale slowly and thoroughly. Turn both palms in and crossed at wrists while circling downwards until just below your navel.
  • Repeat 4-8 times from the beginning.

Health Point:

  • This movement prepares you for the next seven movements by warming up the body.
  • invigorating the muscles and relaxing the body as a whole.
  • Movements synchronized with breathing help the mind to develop into a peaceful concentration.
  • Opens up the cavity in the body exercise the internal organs through contraction and expansion of the cavity, improve functioning of the organs. Improve blood circulation and energy flow.
  • Stimulate energy channels unblock them as well as bring efficiency to the flow of energy
  • Bending stretching of arms exercise the joints and improve conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis.

Attention:

  • Arm stretch up to naturally straight, shoulder still relax
  • Bend wrist when pushing up with gentle force
  • Movement should be slow and coordinate with breathing
  • Focus on the abdomen and pushing up, think of Lao gong
  • Breath in when stretch, breath out when contract.
  • Look up when stretch

 

Two – Drawing the bow to let the arrow fly

Movement:

  • Step further apart to left, with both knees are slightly bent. Cross your arms in front of your chest with both hands in loose fists, tucking left arm under right.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply.

Push your left arm slowly to the left until the elbow is fully extended with the index finger pointing upwards. At the same time pull your right arm slowly to right with the elbow bent, as if drawing a bowstring. Eyes are looking at the left index finger.

  • Exhale slowly and thoroughly as you float your arms back to the front of your chest with both hands in loose fists, tucking the right arm under left.
  • Repeat movement 2. except a change of direction: right elbow is fully extended with right index finger pointing upwards and left hand is drawing a bowstring.
  • Repeat movement 3.
  • Repeat movement 2 & 3 more times alternating until you draw the bow 3 times to each side.

Health Points:

  • To increase the capacity and resiliency of the lungs for deeper breathing.
  • Stimulates the heart and improves blood circulation.
  • The slight squatting posture will strengthen major muscle group of the thighs, which is an important element in better balance control.
  • Stimulating the lung meridian and unblock Qi stuck around the elbow.
  • Bend legs in Stance posture helps increase muscles strength, reduce the loss of calcium prevent Osteoporosis and improve arthritis condition

Attention:

  • Arms should form a circle when cross at the wrist.
  • Arm stretch up to naturally straight, shoulder still relax
  • Expand chest as you stretch
  • Bend wrist when pushing with gentle force
  • Movement should be slow and coordinate with breathing
  • Focus on the abdomen and pushing to the side, think of Lao gong look at the index finger
  • Breath in when stretch, breath out when contract.

 

Three – Separating heaven and Earth  – Heal the spleen and stomach through the push of single palm

 

Movement:

  1. Stand erect with your feet shoulder width apart. Both palms cross at wrists in front of your chest, with palm facing inward and the left palm at nearside.
  2. Inhale slowly and deeply.

Push left palm upwards slowly and push your right palm downwards until both elbows are fully extended. The top hand should be facing upward aligning the centre of the hand – Laogong point (Palace of toil) and top of head – Baihui point. The lower hand should be to the side of the hip facing down aligned with the Huan Tiao ( Jumping Round).

  1. Exhale slowly and thoroughly as you return to the starting position with the right palm at nearside.
  2. Inhale slowly and deeply.

Push right palm upwards slowly and push your left palm downwards until both elbows are fully extended. The top hand should be facing upward aligning the centre of the hand – Laogong point (Palace of toil) and top of head – Baihui point. The lower hand should be to the side of the hip facing down aligned with the Huan Tiao ( Jumping Round).

  1. Exhale slowly and thoroughly as you return to the starting position.

 

Repeat movement 2 & 3 more times, alternating the left and right palm 3 times on each side.

 

Health Point:

  • Stretches all the muscles of the rib cage to increase the lung capacity
  • Strengthens the upper back, shoulders and arms.
  • Helps focus the mind and energy on internal organs like spleen, stomach and liver.
  • Improve the digestive system
  • Invigorate energy flow

Attention:

  • arm crossed in a circle in front
  • shoulders relaxed
  • stretch arms but not the shoulders
  • other points in the movement before

 

Four – Wise Owl gazes backwards – Turn the head and looking behind

Movement:

  1. Stand erect with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Inhale slowly and deeply as you raise your arms.
  3. Exhale slowly and thoroughly.

Turn your waist to the left and look over the left shoulder. At the same time fold back your right elbow so the right hand is behind your neck and fold back your left elbow and the back of your left palm is on the back of the waist.

  1. Inhale slowly and deeply.

Turn back to face the front and unfold both elbows and extend arms straight to the sides.

Exhale slowly and thoroughly Turn your waist to the right and look over the right shoulder. At the same time fold back your left elbow so the left hand is behind your neck and fold back your right elbow and place the back of your right palm onto the back of your waist.

  1. Repeat 2 & 3 more times, alternating looking left and right for a total of 3 times to each side.

Health Point:

  • Prevents neck problems by increasing the strength and flexibility of the muscles of the neck.
  • It is said this exercise cure the ‘five troubles and seven disorders’ by rejuvenating internal organs
  • Increasing immune functioning of the immune system. According to the songs of practice, five troubles refers to illnesses of the five organs: heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys, and seven disorders refers to upset caused by seven emotions: happiness, anger, sorrow, joy, love, hate and desire.
  • Improve the central nervous system
  • Improve blood supply to the brain
  • Stimulate pressure point at the back to improve energy flow.

Attention:

  • Turn body like a pole avoid leaning
  • Turn on the hip, waist and then neck
  • Focus on the live gate then Da Zhui Point
  • Shoulders relaxed

Five – Sway the head and swing the tail to remove heart fire

Movement:

  1. Inhale slowly and deeply Step to the left and your feet are wider apart than your shoulder. Both hands place onto your hips.
  2. Exhale slowly and thoroughly while bending your trunk sideways to the left.
  3. Inhale slowly while float back up to the starting position.
  4. Exhale slowly while bending your trunk sideways to the right.
  5. float back up to the starting position.
  6. Repeat 2 & 3 more times, alternating left and right for a total of 3 times to each side.

Health Point:

  • This movement is said to ‘tranquilize the fiery heart’. The ancient practitioner believe excessive ‘heart fire’ causes symptoms such as headache, insomnia, agitation, rage reactions, and high blood pressure – everything that stress and tension causes to a modern man.
  • Increases the flexibility of the spine and strengthens the lower back, hips and tights.
  • Stimulate the bladder, kidney and heart through leaning and swaying in a great range thus improve function of the heart and kidney

Attention:

  • leaning action is done by the hip and waist
  • head kept still and in line with the torso
  • body weight remains at the centre at all time
  • focus on the abdomen

 

Six – Touching the toes and arching the back.

Movement:

  1. Inhale slowly and deeply.

Both arms stretch upwards until elbows are fully extended.

  1. Exhale slowly while bend forward and hands touching toes.
  2. Inhale slowly while return to the upright position with palms place onto back of your waist.
  3. Exhale slowly and thoroughly while arching your body and bending backwards until you feel a good stretch, then return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat 1, 2, 3 & 4, for a total of 4 – 8 times.

Health Point:

  • This movement improves the flexibility and strength of the lower back, waist and hip joints.
  • When you bend forward, you are gently expanding your spine and when arching the back you are gently stimulating the lower back muscle and kidney area.
  • Stimulate the energy channels along the legs and waist improve energy flow thus improve kidneys, bladder functioning
  • Increase flexibility, muscle at the back
  • Loosen up the spine and helps improve lower back pain or trapped nerves.

Attention:

  • go down as low as one’ physical limit and should not go down over that limit
  • people with heart condition should not bend over 90 degrees
  • when leaning back, keep the head in line with the body

 

Seven – Punching with fierce eyes – Build up strength through firm fist and striking palm.

 

Movement:

  1. Step out to the left to a wider stance. In hale deeply while both hands forming fists by each side of your waist.
  2. Exhale deeply while pushing the left palm forward.
  3. Inhale deeply while changing left palm to a fist then draw back to the left side of waist.
  4. Exhale deeply while pushing the right palm forward.
  5. Inhale deeply while changing right palm to a fist then draw back to the right side of waist.
  6. Repeat 2, 3, 4 & 5, alternating left and right palm for a total of 3 times on each.
  7. Exhale deeply while stepping back to shoulder width apart stance.

Health Point:

  • This movement aims to build up physical strength in the legs, arms and upper back.
  • It was originally practiced by punching fists forward and said to be good for raising the spirit of vitality and revitalizes the inner organs, especially for liver and heart. It has been made easier by changing to pushing palm forward for a gentler approach.
  • Improve the functioning of the Liver, through the tension in the eye (the eyes connects to the liver through the liver meridian
  • Improve muscle tone
  • Stance helps prevent or improve joints mobility, good for arthritis and osteoporosis.

Attention:

  • Body upright
  • Focus on the palm or the fist if punching with fists

 

Eight – Raising the heels to keep all illness away

Movement:

  1. Stand erect with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Inhale slowly and deeply while raising your heels and balancing on toes.
  3. Exhale slowly as you return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat 2 & 3, raising your heels for a total of 6 times.

 

Health Point:

  • Pushing up and balance on toes and hold it for a few seconds will dramatically strengthen the ankles and calf muscles, thus preventing many common injuries like ankle sprains and leg cramps.
  • Helps to develop an immediate sense of balance awareness.
  • Stimulate pressure point and links on the feet to various organs especially the bladder and sex organs
  • Help to keep the spine in good condition through gentle stamp action
  • Improve the energy flow along the spine,
  • Improve central nervous system

Attention:

  • raise the heels as much as possible and hold
  • come back down half way before stamping
  • body relaxed and upright
  • focus on the abdomen then the heel when stamping.

   

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