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Today’s practice was focused on therapeutic Qi Gong. It lasted for an hour, and it followed this order:
Qi Gong (Chi Kung) is a term used to grour several disciplines and methods developed in China during milleniums. The methods differ in goals and ways of practice, but they all share common principles regarding the energy and the channels it follows in the human body.
For instance some Qi Gong systems consist in slow movements and breathing, while others are practiced in static positions and with varying meditation and breathing techniques.
The term Qi Gong itself is made up of two words: Qi (Chi) which means Energy and Gong (Kung) which means Work.
Qi is the energy or natural force that fills the universe. For the chinese there are 3 types of Qi, the Qi of the Sky (Tian Qi), the Qi of the Earth (Di Qi) and the Qi of Man or Ren Qi. In the case of man it is the vital energy, which of course is greatly influenced by the energy of the Sky and the Earth, since the man is immerse in them. In occidental terms (and simplifying) the Qi can be understood as bioelectricity.
The term Gong, means work, and it is normally used to refer to any skill or special ability, even the study of a subject, which achievement requires time, great amount of effort and dedication to achieve it.
Then Qi Gong is the art of Working with the Energy to achieve several goals.
There exist historical documents that indicate that during Yao dinasty, more that 4000 years ago, the persons already used a way of meditative dance to regulate their Qi and breathing, to cure diseases and armonize with the cycles of Sky and Earth.
Since those immemorial times and until today the Qi Gong have been applied for medicinal and therapeutic means. That’s the main goal of Medicinal or Therapeutic Qi Gong. These systems have influenced the development of the Traditional Chinese Medicine greatly, and have also being influenced by it.
The therapeutic Qi Gong is the focus of our practice.
There exist other 4 big schools of Qi Gong according to their practitioners:
Besides those mentioned above, the practice of Qi Gong allows to remain healthy and full of energy. We remain young and keep diseases away from us.
Or like my Master Sebastián González correctly says to “achieve a more positive approach to life”. You can find Master Sebastián González’s school on the directory of ifeel maps.
After a soft warmup, focused on irrigation and gentle stretching of the joints we did some minutes of Standing Meditation.
With the feet apart shoulder wide, we interlace the fingers below the navel in the area known as Dan Tian of Field of the Elixir. The Dan Tian is an energetic center of our body, and it is where we will generate the energy for the practice and where we will return it to when we finish, to store it there as the Dan Tian is a good accumulator of Qi.
We close the eyes, we calm the breathing and focus our mind in the Dan Tian for some minutes to calm our mind before starting the practice. Our training starts and ends in the Dan Tian, so to complete the mentioned cycle of Qi and also to prepare the mind at the beginning and end of the session.
It is said that it was Yue Fei, in the era of the Southern Song dinasty (1127 - 1279 d.C.) who created a series known as the Eight Pieces of Brocade as a means to improve the health of his soldiers. He is also considered the creator of several martial styles, being an expert in martial arts himself.
In those times of war and corruption he was a man that shone by the purity of his spirit and ideals, and his faith in the values of kindness, loyalty and integrity. Moral virtues that he learned from his mother, who raised him as he was orphaned from almost birth. Of poor origin, he learn to read with her, writing with branches on the sand.
Studious of the classics in times of peace, brave and astute general in war, Marshal Yue Fei is a hero for countless generations of chinese, and has embodied the ideal of a man absolutely virtuous.
Commonly known in China as Ba Duan Jin, these exercises have been practiced for more than 1,000 years. Each piece is accompanied by a song or poem which illustrates the main purpose of the piece and have been trasmited from generations to generations for centuries.
It is logical then that during the centuries a vast literature has blossom and also variations of the system have been documented.
We should not worry about wich variation is more precise or advisable since all share the same basic principles. What is truly important is to understand the root of the practice as well as do a perseverant and patient training.
The mention to the Silk refers here to the breathing, that has to be uniform, subtle and delicate throughout the practice.
The Ba Duan Jin has an impact in all the channels or meridians of Qi in the body, which makes it apropriate as a therapeutic exercise. No matter your age or physical condition, the Eight Pieces of Brocade is a marvelous way of improving your health and well-being.
The first piece of the Ba Duan Jin that we did was Double Hands Hold the Skies or Shuang Shou Tuo Tian. This exercise is also known in other systems with different names, such as Raise the Sky, and that’s the name I used in the session because I considered it more poetic :-)
The exercise is made in the standing position, feet separated at shoulder width. The hands are a handspan in front of the body, arms slightly bent, palms are facing up, each finger pointing to it’s similar one of the other hand. The look is towards the ground 2 meters in front.
As we inspire the hands go up in front of the body, until the height of the chin. At that height the hands rotate and face up while they continue to go up above the as if we push the Sky, until the arms are stretched. When we can’t stretch no further we stand on our toe tips. The look follows the hands at all moment.
At this moment we exhale while we lower the arms in circles by our sides, the body is relaxed and we return to the initial position.
When you inhale imagine that you absorb the cosmic energy and that it goes up through your body at the same time that the hands, from the navel up until your head. Imagine that you are a spring of water, a flower that blooms or any other image that you like and that bring back delightful emotions.
As you go down imagine that you release the bad energy that you have in your body. If you are ecologist do not worry about the environment as the energy that is bad for you is good for other creatures.
This exercise is very good to move the Qi in the whole body, from the navel (Dan Tian) until the head, regulating the energy in the body. It also stretches the muscles and tendons of the arms and shoulders in an harmonious and soft way.
When the circulation of energy in the body is soft the organs relax and the Qi that gets to them moves con complete freedom. It is believed that the upsets that occur in the body are the first cause of many diseases and dysfunctions suffered by the Qi of the organs. A perfectly regulated body dispels the peril of diseases.
The second piece of the Ba Duan Jin that we did was Stretch a Hand Upwards and Then the Other to Harmonize Spleen and Stomach. This exercise is also known in other systems with different names, as Harvest Stars or Separate Sky and Earth, and that’s the name I used in the session because I considered it more poetic :-)
The exercise is made in the standing position, feet separated at shoulder width, with the hands in front of the body, arms slightly bent, a palm faces up while the other faces down, fingers pointing each other. The look is towards the ground two meters in front.
As you inspire the hand facing up goes up in front of the body, until the height of the chin. At that height the hand rotates and face up while it continues to go up above until the arm is stretched. The fingers point towards the other shoulder.
The other hand goes down to the side of the body with the fingers pointing to the front. When the arms are almost in their final position you feel, with your mind, with your both hands as if you separate the Sky and Earth. The look should be to the front, smile a bit and softly feel how the energy concentrates in your palms.
At this moment we exhale while we lower the arms very relaxed to their initial position, the palm that goes down faces down, the one that comes up faces up to exchange paths the next repetition. The look returns to the ground.
This exercise influences specially the stomach, which is adjusts and relaxes. The spleen and liver experience an increment in the cirulation of energy through them also. It dispels many diseases in those organs.
Arms’ muscles and tendons are stimulated and strenghten. Raise and lower arms stretches and relaxes the body while it breathes life into the Qi channels and activates their function as energy deposits.
This exercise has a favourable effect on the immune system, and it is very recommended to practice it at the beginning of spring and autumn, because we need to strengthen our defenses.
The third exercise that I chose belongs to the system Qi Gong Yi Quan (Boxing of the Intention) and it is known as Move the Clouds or Tui Yuan.
Move the Clouds is the simplest exercise of the system, and works mainly on the Emotional Mind (Hsing) attracting its atention and sensitivity while moving the clouds.
The exercise is made in the standing position, feet separated at shoulder width, with the hands in front of the body palms face forward. One hand is placed in front of the solar plexus and the other at same height separated at shoulder width, fingers pointing to the hand that is in front of the shoulder.
The breathing is stable without a marked rhythm, different from former exercises. The look points downwards all the time. The trunk rotates softly in the direction of the hand in front of the solar flexus, when the torsion of the trunk is enough, without loosing comfort, the hands change places and the other hands is put in front of the plexus starting rotating to the other side. Breathing must be soft and shoulders must remain relaxed. While you do the exercise you feel as the hands brush against the clouds pushing them to the sides to relax the mind.
In this system “the intention and the Look” are the most important aspects of the practice and develop a strong and active mind.
To finish it is adviseable to do Standing Meditation, you calm the breathing, and center the mind in the Dan Tian so that the energy returns to it, where we will store it. As a result also the mind calms itself.
It is adviseable after finishing not to return immediately to do tasks that can get us excited or stress us, like work, to enjoy the state of our calmed mind to separate our island of Qi Gond of the daily bustle.
Joaquín Rivera Padrón is Instructor of Qi Gong graduated by the Master Sebastián González, president of the Catalan Asociation de Choy Li Fut, Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Kung.
Puedes leer una versión en español de este post aquí.