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Essences of Liu Zi Jue Health Preserving Formula

Zhang Mingliang, Ma Ling

We not only exercise zang fu-organs in Liu Zi Jue

As is known to all, in Liu Zi Jue the five elements, five voices and five zang-organs correspond with each other. For example, “he” (Chinese character“呵”)is a tongue voice corresponding with heart—fire, “hu” (Chinese character“呼”)is a larynx voice corresponding with spleen—earth, “chui” (Chinese character“吹”)is a lip voice corresponding with kidneys—water, “xu” (Chinese character“嘘”) (“xi” (Chinese character“嘻”)) is a teeth voice corresponding with liver (gallbladder)—wood and “xi” (Chinese character“呬”) is a dental voice corresponding with lungs—gold, “xi” (嘻) connects Shaoyang pulse which can unobstruct not only the gallbladder meridian but also the triple energizer pulse. As held in Chinese traditional medicine, “Shaoyang is the hub”. Qi of the whole body can be regulated by connecting Shaoyang, and the usage of triple energizer is just to unobstruct various Qi all over body. Therefore, there comes the correspondence with zang fu-organs in Liu Zi Jue, “xu- liver, he- heart, hu- spleen, xi- lungs, chui- kidneys and xi-triple energizer”. But from many years of teaching practices we have found that some people wrongly think that due to the correspondence of the above six characters with zang fu-organs, Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue is to exercise zang fu-organs and has no connection with limb joints or mentality. But the fact is on the contrary. The key point resulting in this misunderstanding is mixture of differences between zang fu-organs in Chinese traditional medicine and western medicine.

As held in the doctrine of Viscera and Their Manifestations in traditional Chinese Medicine, human body is a unity with five zang-organs as the center. Every component of human body is its integral part no matter in respects of structure, performance or in physiopathology, while five zang-organs is the core of activities of human life. The six hollow organs together with other body parts as well as various spirits and emotions respectively belong to the five viscera, thus forming the five general systems of human body. The five general systems are mainly divided according to functions, which includes the whole body functions in the five viscera. In further detail, it can be divided into three levels, i.e. form, Qi and spirit. Form is body, Qi is the functions of body and spirit is spiritual awareness. Spiritual activities such as five minds of Shen (spirit), Hun (mind), Po (soul), Yi (willingness), Zhi (ambition)and seven emotions of Xi (joy), Nu (anger), You(worry), Si(anxiety), Bei(sadness), Kong(fear), Jing(panic) are closely connected with five viscera. It shows that in Liu Zi Jue we exercise the five systems and therefore the whole body. Exercise of the five systems equals exercise of the whole body internally and externally, thus overall regulating humans’ body and spirit.

Why is it Liu Zi Jue instead of Wu Zi Jue?

According to theories of traditional Chinese Medicine, human body is a unity consisting of five viscera, namely liver, heart, spleen, lungs and kidneys. Then someone might ask why it is Liu Zi Jue instead of Wu Zi Jue? This is related to the sixth Zi Jue—“xi” Zi Jue.

The “xi” Zi Jue corresponds with triple energizer. Triple energizer divides human body from the perspective of Qi, namely functions; it is a parallel concept with zang fu-organ. Triple energizers consist of upper energizer, middle energizer and lower energizer. Generally speaking, above diaphragm is upper energizer, which includes heart and lungs; between diaphragm and navel is middle energizer which includes spleen and stomach; below navel is lower energizer which includes liver and kidneys, large and small intestines and bladder. The upper energizer is like mist for its function is like rising mist. The middle energizer is like foam for its transport, decomposition and fermentation functions. The lower energizer is like ditch for it controls the water metabolism of human body, like a river flowing downwards.

The upper energizer, like mist, is upwards; the lower energizer, like ditch, is downwards and the middle energizer, like foam, is for transporting, it is from this perspective that triple energizers divide functions of human body. The upper energizer equals function of heart and lungs, middle energizer equals the function of spleen and stomach and lower energizer includes functions of liver and kidneys, regulating exercise of triple energizers is just regulating five viscera and further regulating the whole body. As said above, respective exercising of liver, heart, spleen, lungs and kidneys, together with exercise of triple energizers consist exercising of the entirety. To make it more impressive, in Liu Zi Jue every zang fu-organ is firstly exercised in linearity and then follows the whole body. So it was Liu Zi Jue instead of Wu Zi Jue that ancient people advocated. Besides, “the whole body” exercise is especially emphasized in theories of traditional Chinese medicine, so it is necessary to specially add an exercise aimed at triple energizers.

The sequence of practicing Liu Zi Jue

The sequence of practicing Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue is arranged according to the mutual generation of five elements in the theory of five elements corresponding with zang fu-organs in traditional Chinese medicine. The liver corresponds with wood which flourishes in spring, the head of four seasons, so “xu” Zi Jue is firstly practices; heart corresponds with fire which can be generated from wood, so “he” Zi Jue is practiced second; spleen corresponds with earth which is generated from fire, so “hu” Zi Jue is practiced next; ”xi” Zi Jue is practiced after “hu” Zi Jue to regulate stomach, which corresponds with gold generated from spleen earth; kidneys corresponds with water, which is generated from gold, so followed nourish kidneys by practicing “chui” Zi Jue, finally the Qi of five organs are nourished. Triple energizers control Qi of the whole body. Finally practice “xi” Zi Jue to regulate triple energizers, which can make Qi and blood all over body flow smoothly to achieve the goal of health and long life.

The Liu Zi Jue is practiced in the sequence of mutual generation of five elements. The five elements theory in fact is a large and complicated knowledge which can be arranged as a chapter to learn in Traditional Chinese Medicine colleges. To make it easy to remember the corresponding sequence of Liu Zi Jue and five elements, here is a simple description to help memorizing. The method is: wood generates fire, for wood will be easily burn with fire; fire generates earth, for ashes after the fire extinguishes turns to earth; earth generate gold for gold originates from earth and is drawn from earth; gold generates water for heated gold will turn to liquid like water; and water generates wood for water nourishes wood.

Diagram of Mutual Generation of Five Elements

Liu Zi Jue is Qi Jue (qi formula) instead of voice formula

Pronunciation, mouth shape and breath are special practicing methods of Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue, and also are the core, difficult and focus points to master the practicing method of Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue. In practicing Liu Zi Jue, besides breathing in and out, we also adjust and control the upward-downward-inward-outward movement by using special mouth shape to respectively forming six special breathing and voicing methods as “xu, he, hu, xi, chui, xi” corresponding with liver, heart, spleen, lung, kidney and triple energizers of human body. The flowing line of breath going through throat, tongue, dental part, teeth and lips is closely connected with the mouth shape. Six special breath flowing methods are generated from six mouth shapes, which further influence the internal Qi and the functions of corresponding zang-fu organs. Pronunciation can be divided into two types, “breathe to voice” is producing sound, “breathe without voice” is tonguing, which are different from each other. Producing sound and tonguing are both to normalize mouth shape. The general requirement on practitioners is “breath without voice”.

From the perspective of pronunciation, we can normalize mouth shape by the method of pronunciation, control breath with normalized mouth shape and influence zang fu-organs with breath. Different mouth shape or pronunciation corresponds with different functions of Qi, so we exercise the zang fu-organs with different mouth shapes and pronunciations, in other word, we can influence zang fu-organs by controlling breath. This proves that breath instead of voicing is the key of breathing in Liu Zi Jue. Therefore, Liu Zi Jue is breath Zi Jue instead of voice Zi Jue. This is also why it was called “Liu Zi Qi (six-character qi)”, “Liu Qi Jue (six-qi formula)” or “Liu Zi Qi Jue (six-character qi jue)”.

The learning procedures of pronunciation, mouth shape and breath is, first normalize the mouth shape by method of correcting pronunciation, and then control the entry/exit of breath inside body with normalized mouth shape. Different thickness, size and location of breath in and out will regulate the Qi activity of different parts of zang fu-organs. The method of learning pronunciation, mouth shape and breath is, learn by an example of “xu” Zi Jue to analyze its pronunciation, mouth shape, breath and its method, corresponding zang fu-organs and functions. Get to know how to read and practice and why to practice like this etc and you will yield twice with half effort. Because other Zi Jue are just different in practicing methods, they have many similarities with “xu” Zi Jue in such aspects as their key points and principles.

Essences of Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue Health Preserving Formula

Liu Zi Jue (Six Healing Sounds)

Three Episodes of the Exhalation and Vocalization of Liu Zi Jue

Zhang Caiqin; Inner Mongolia Normal University

Liu Zi Jue is a Qigong fitness exercise with respiration and Tuna as the major methods which are assisted by simple Daoyin movements. It is focused on combination of the thought with slow and smooth movements and soft, even, and long exhalation and vocalization. “The thought is contained in Qi and in form”. “Containing the thought in Qi” does not mean completely focusing the thought on respiration. Instead we should use a little thought exhaling the breath and stay focused on the related viscera and channels. For example, while vocalizing “Xu”, we do not use thought but still know clearly that we are vocalizing the sound and exhaling the breath. Exhalation dominates this exercise and Daoyin assist the exhalation. The Daoyin movements play an important role in assisting the exhalation. Whether the movements of the limbs are relaxed, soft, gentle, and slow has a direct influence on the results of exhalation. If the body and the mind fail to get fully relaxed, the internal Qi will not run smoothly and exhalation will not result in the expected effects. Through long-term practice of Liu Zi Jue exhalation and limb movements, the practicer will advance from exhalation-vocalization to exhalation-slight vocalization and then to exhalation-no vocalization. The respiration state will change from the wind phase to the Qi phase and then to the resting phase, so that respiration and Tuna are combined with the thought and the mind and thus influence the blood and Qi circulation in various viscera. According to the progress that the practicer has made and the presence of vocalization, we divide the practicing process of Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue into three stages, namely vocalizing exhalation, slightly-vocalizing exhalation, and non-vocalizing exhalation.

Vocalizing Exhalation

In the practice of this exercise, the beginner cannot meet the requirements on smooth, soft, gentle, and slow limb movements and the though and mind are scattered and prevented from being serene. And the internal Qi is blocked in the viscera and difficult to be connected. Therefore the practicer has to vocalize during exhalation. The sound is required to be “deep, vibrative, and penetrating”. Exhalation & vocalization is characterized in that: The sound is created by vibration in the chest and the breath is blocked in the diaphragm. Below are its purposes: First, it is used to standardize the mouth shape. Second, if no sound is created during exhalation in this stage, the breath will be retarded by the chest cavity and the diaphragm and easily cause chokes. Vocalization during exhalation can vibrate the chest cavity and the diaphragm and distribute the air currents in all parts of the chest viscera. This will both promote the movements if the internal viscera and prevent the suffocating feeling by dispersing the breath. Third, the VF oscillation of vocalization will enhance the depth of respiration and raise the vital capacity.

Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue requires nose-in and nose-out natural respiration in addition to the noise-in and mouth-out reverse abdominal respiration. During the inhalation of reverse abdominal respiration, the abdominal muscles will extract and the abdominal wall will slightly indent to reduce the volume of the abdominal cavity. Qi inside Dantian will be lifted from the lower abdomen to the chest cavity and the clean air from the outside will be drawn in by the noise. The internal and external Qi will be interchanged and merged in the chest. During the exhalation, the abdominal muscles are relaxed and the abdominal walls are lumped to increase the volume of the abdominal cavity. The exchanged turbid air is exhaled through the mouth and the nourished internal Qi is returned to Dantian. The beginner does not have to make a choice on purpose during the vocalization and exhalation and will unconsciously take reverse abdominal respiration. This is because: The sounding force created by vibration in the chest cavity and the natural force that lumps the abdominal wall during exhalation are both outbound. Therefore reverse abdominal respiration will naturally be more comfortable. If obverse respiration is used, the sounding force created by vibration in the chest cavity is outbound and the contracting force of the abdominal muscles is inbound. The practicer will feel uncomfortable. Whenever we feel mentally nervous, get depressed, or use force suddenly, we will usually take deep breaths, which are exactly reverse abdominal respiration. While the beginner is practicing, the natural respiration is basically in the wind phase which is characterized by: The breast will rise and fall. The wings of the nose will close and open with small amplitude. The breath is a little short, shallow, and rapid. Therefore the respiration will cause ventilation which makes the trachea and nostrils feel blocked, and the breath will be heavy and uneven, giving out sound from time to time.

By using various mouth shapes during exhalation, the beginner can create various shapes and positions of the lips, tongue, teeth, and throat, which result in various levels of internal pressure on the chest cavity and promote the blood and Qi circulation in local parts of the human viscera. Since the breath is retarded in the chest diaphragm and has little influence on the abdominal cavity, it cannot regulate the circulation of Qi in the corresponding viscera in an orderly way or systematically participate in the dredging of channels in the viscera. But it still provides the following effects. First, the six mouth shapes for vocalizing exhalation will from different routes and movement patterns for the breath and have different effects on the corresponding viscera. But since the sound is caused by vibration in the chest cavity, some of the effects of breath in the viscera will be hindered. Second, vocalization will result in different vibrations in the viscera in the chest cavity and thus stimulate Zang viscera such as the heart and lungs. Third, reverse abdominal respiration will not only facilitate the exchange between congenital Qi and postnatal Qi, but also kind of massage the internal organs. This will particularly improve the functions of the intestines and the stomach. Fourthly, the Daoyin of limb movements will lubricate the joints, relax the tendons, and promote blood circulation. Therefore by practicing vocalizing exhalation, the beginner can generally experience the rehabilitating and health-preserving effects of Liu Zi Jue.

Today, some schools of Liu Zi Jue believe that vocalization provides quicker effects in clinical application than non-vocalization probably because clinical test objects are mostly beginners of Liu Zi Jue exercise, among which vocalization will definitely have more significant efficacy than non-vocalization. In the experiments performed by Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue research team, the effects of different states of “Hu” on the mean muscle strength of the practicing population were observed and results showed that the mean gripping strength of the vocalization group if greater than that of the non-vocalization group. This was also because the test objects were mostly Liu Zi Jue beginners. Such results were inevitable. It may take years to experience vocalizing exhalation. We need to carefully reflect on this exercise in order to gradually advance to the slightly-vocalizing exhalation stage.

Slightly-Vocalizing Exhalation

As you gradually make progress, you will understand the keys to the exercise and become slow, relaxed, smooth, and gentle with your movements. You will be able to lower your shoulders and elbows, shrink the chest, straighten the back, relax the waist, and hold back the buttocks. And you will feel as if your Baihui is being lifted. Your mind and thought will be relaxed and at ease while having the slightly-vocalizing exhalation. It is characterized in that: The exhaling sound involves little vibration of the chest cavity. The breath will be less impeded by the chest diaphragm and some of the breath will be able to penetrate the diaphragm and reach the abdomen. Six different breaths will create different levels of pressure on the chest and abdomen in order to regulate the blood and Qi in the corresponding viscera. Due to the attenuated vocalization, the vibration in the chest cavity is reduced and the effect of breath on the functions of these viscera is enhanced. Therefore

The respiration state of slightly-vocalizing exhalation belongs to the Qi phase: During respiration, the chest moves up and down with a small amplitude. The air receives little resistance from the trachea and the nostrils. The breathing sound can barely be heard. The breath is not retarded but it is neither silent nor soft. As you continue to make progress, both the body and mind will be completely relaxed during exercise. In particular, the chest will begin to feel loose and hollow and become free of constraint by anything. The internal Qi in Dantian in the lower abdomen will gradually become full and unblocked. The slightly-vocalizing exhalation will gradually change into non-vocalizing exhalation or, before you know it, enter an even, soft, gentle, and long breathing state.

Non-Vocalizing Exhalation

During the exercise, you will completely meet the requirements on interior and exterior relaxation of the entire body, such as lowering the shoulders and elbows, drawing in the chest, straightening the back, relaxing the neck muscles, and lifting the head. You will completely understand the true meaning of Liu Zi Jue and begin to practice automatically. The mind and spirit will be free from pre-occupation, serene, and at ease. The exhalation will be soundless. It is characterized in that: The chest cavity will be free of vibration. The breath will no longer be retarded by the diaphragm. “Exhale softly, inhale slowly, stay between consciousness and unconsciousness, and remain continuous and unbroken”. The six different breaths can regulate the blood and Qi circulation in corresponding viscera in an orderly manner, systematically participate in the dredging of channels in the viscera, and thus achieve the rehabilitating and health-preserving effects of Liu Zi Jue. And this is also the key to this exercise which “regulates and controls the ascending, descending, outgoing, and incoming breaths in the body through specific pronouncing mouth shapes during respiration and Tuna” and thus “regulates the balance of Qi activity between corresponding viscera”. Therefore, “breath rather than sound is the key to the exhalation of Liu Zi Jue”.

During the exercise, the brain is free of worries and the mind is free of anxiety. It feels as if something that has been pending and entangling in your heart for a long time is suddenly removed from your chest, relieving your mind as if relieving yourself of a heavy burden. Even, soft, gentle, and long breath runs throughout the entire exercise to help you enter a respiration state of the resting phase. During the respiration, the chest and the nose wings barely move and you will only feel the abdomen moving up and down. Therefore the breath will be deep, long, gentle, and slow. You will not feel any resistance in the trachea or the nostrils. The breath will naturally be soft, fine, even, and continuous. The mind and the breath will be interdependent and no breathing sound will be heard. At this point the breath will regulate itself even if you do not try to regulate it. Only the “resting phase” is the optimal state of well-regulated breath. And it is also the requirement and purpose of breath regulation exercise. Some breathing Qi can directly reach the lower abdomen and mix up with the internal Qi in Dantian. At the same time, you need to “assist the respiration with smooth and slow ascending, descending, opening, and closing movements around the navel. The opening and closing movements correspond to the opening and closing respiration of the internal Qi in Dantian and will further regulate the balance of internal Qi in the body.” In this way, the genuine Qi needed for the maintenance of the functions of the body will be partly transmitted through the lungs to every corner of the body and partly supplied by the internal Qi in Dantian. This will help us truly accomplish the objective of Liu Zi Jue to promote the communication and exchange between internal and external breaths through respiration and Tuna, and thus influence the internal Qi and functions of the corresponding viscera in the human body.

Reference: Three Episodes of the Exhalation and Vocalization of Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue

Liu Zi Jue: Six Sounds Approach to Qigong Breathing Exercises (Chinese Health Qigong Associat)
by The Chinese Health Qigong Association
ISBN 1848190069

Liu Zi Jue in Regulating Emotions

Liu Zi Jue is a traditional fitness exercise with respiration and Tuna as the major approach. It is mostly characterized in that the mutual promoting, restraining, subjugating, and reverse-restricting effects of the Five Elements are used to enhance the functions of tissues inside the human body. Respiration and limb Daoyin are used to fully trigger and mobilize the potential of the viscera in order to resist the invasion by diseases, improve the immune functions of the organism, and prevent premature decline with the aging process.

Theory of the Five Elements and Its Application

The Theory of Five Elements refers to the motion of five substances namely Wood, Fire, Metal, Water, and Earth. The traditional philosophy of China holds that nothing is single or stationary and that all things maintain a balance in the never-ending mutual promoting and restraining movements between the five elements. This is the basic meaning of the Theory of Five Elements and a major embodiment of the ancient dialectical materialism of China.

The promotion between the Five Elements means that Wood promotes Fire, Fire promotes Earth, Earth promotes Metal, Metal promotes water, and water promotes Wood. The restraint between the Five Elements means that Wood restrains Earth, Earth restrains Water, Water restrains Fire, Fire restrains Metal, and Metal restrains Wood. Subjugation is forced submission to control. It means that one of the Five Elements is so suppressed by another element that a series of abnormal reactions are caused, such as Earth being subjugated by Wood. Reverse restriction is also known as reverse restraint. It means that one of the Five Elements is so strong that it restrains the element that originally restrains it, such as Metal being reverse-restricted by Wood.

According to the Theory of Five Elements, the five Zang viscera and the six Fu viscera of the human body respectively belong to these Five Elements. For example the liver belongs to Wood, the heart belongs to Fire, the spleen belongs to Earth, the lungs belong to Metal, and the kidneys belong to Water. The promotion, restraint, restriction, and conversion between the Five Elements are used to analyze the physiological functions of the viscera and channels of the organism and their mutual relations. The subjugating and reverse-restricting effects between the Five Elements are used to explain their mutual effects from a pathological point of view. Therefore, the Theory of Five Elements is not only considered as a theoretical basis for traditional Chinese medicine, but also used to direct the control and prevention of diseases in clinical practice.

How to Use Liu Zi Jue to Regulate Changes in Emotions

Emotions originate from the five Zang viscera. Just as there are physiological promoting and restraining relations and pathological subjugating and reverse-restricting relations between the five Zang viscera, these relations also exist between the emotions. Therefore the promotion, restraint, restriction, and conversion between emotions can be used to regulate the emotions and thus to control and prevent diseases.

Anger is the emotion of the liver which belongs to Wood; the corresponding word is “Xu”. In daily life we frequently see “silent fury” when people dare not express their anger. A depressed liver will give rise to pathogenic fire which, if not dissipated in time, will result in diseases. Hyperactivity of liver Yang will subjugate Earth, i.e. the spleen and stomach. In this case we have to calm the liver and the stomach. Therefore we can use “Xu” of Liu Zi Jue to purge the liver fire in order to calm the liver. If a “great rage” causes the liver Qi to ascend and agitate heart fire, we can vocalize “Xu” and “He” to quench the fire in the liver and the heart. This is called cause-effect simultaneous therapy.

Joy is the emotion of the heart which belongs to Fire; the corresponding word is “He”. Over-joy will impair the heart. I once encountered a patient whose came from Indonesia to China for the first time after 30 years of separation from his family. His daughter went to welcome him at a train station. As they met each other, the father came out due to over-joy and was immediately sent to our hospital for emergency rescue. The patient was diagnosed as having an acute myocardial infarction and after the emergency treatment, his conditions gradually became stable. This was a typical example of the heart being impaired by overwhelming joy. Therefore it is important that we do not get too excited by over-joy whatever happens. And once you find yourself having tachycardia or discomfort in the precordial region, you should stabilize your emotions and spell “He” to calm the overexcited mind.

Anxiety is the emotion of the spleen which belongs to Earth; the corresponding word is “Hu”. After the Butterfly Lovers Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai separated at the pavilion, Zhu Yingtai knew that a beautiful and satisfactory matrimonial connection was gone and missed Liang Shanbo day and night, and thus “lost all desire for food and drink”. This was a typical example of the spleen impaired by overwhelming anxiety. In our daily lives and a society filled with heated competition, we may lose appetite and have bad sleeps due to our overstrained nerves. This is also an example of the spleen impaired by anxiety which causes diseases in the long run. Under such circumstances, we can put more emphasis on the word “Hu” while practicing Liu Zi Jue. This is because “Hu” acts on the spleen. It regulates the spleen and stomach and improves the digestive function. In addition, restless sleep at night is caused by mother (spleen) diseases and the daughter (heart). Therefore we can also add some efforts to “He” and adopt the cause-effect simultaneous therapy.

Sorrow is the emotion of the lungs which belong to Metal; the corresponding word is “Si”. In A Dream of Red Mansions Lin Daiyu and Jia Baoyu failed to get married to each other and Lin Daiyu finally died of a lung disease and the resulting hemoptysis. This was a typical example of the liver being tortured by Metal. As an orphan girl, Li Daiyu loved Jia Baoyu but could not fight for their love. Therefore she was unhappy all day long. The depression and gloominess impaired her liver and caused liver stagnation. And the hyperactivity of fire in the liver impaired the lungs. The long-term stasis damaged her lungs and as a result she finally died of hemoptysis. Therefore when we encounter great grief and depression in daily life, we must stabilize our emotion and must not let it continue for a long time. In the practice of Liu Zi Jue, we should frequently spell “Si” in order to release the pathogenic Qi from the lungs and relieve the grief. If the grief is accompanied by silent fury, we can do extra “Xu” exercise in order to dispel the “reverse restriction” phenomenon and reduce the pressure caused by liver stagnation.

Terror is the emotion of the kidneys which belong to Water; the corresponding word is “Chui”. Terror impairs the kidneys. 20 years ago I knew a patient who lived on Floor 2 of a building. One day a fire broke out on the first floor. He jumped off Floor 2 to escape the fire emergency and broke his calcaneus. Later he developed urination disorder which led to uroschesis. Therefore we used indwelling catheter for urine drainage treatment. After combined traditional Chinese and western therapies and psychological counseling, we gradually relieved him of the terror and after a month’s treatment, the catheter was withdrawn and he gradually recuperated himself. This was a typical example of the kidneys being impaired by terror. The saying “he is terrified to urine” is an example of urinary incontinence caused by terror. Therefore if we encounter great terror in life, we should first stabilize our emotion and then spell “Chui” to gradually calm the terrified mind.

The above-mentioned five emotions frequently occur in daily life. In order to alleviate these symptoms and reduce the pressure caused by changes in these emotions, we can spell the Liu Zi Jue words corresponding to the target viscera for self-regulation. For example we can spell “Xu” for a liver disease or “He” for a heart disease in order to balance the unbalanced viscus. If your spleen is impaired by anxiety and your bad appetite causes heart fire to flare up, you can treat both viscera by spelling “Hu” (for the spleen) and “He” (for the heart) at the same time. This is also an application of the cause-and-effect simultaneous therapy. Once you have violent emotional changes, you should first calm your own emotions and spell Liu Zi Jue words. At the same time you should actively take psychological counseling and corresponding medications.

Matters to Be Noted about Using Liu Zi Jue to Regulate Emotional Changes

Liu Zi Jue is an exercise focused on purging. Therefore it should be used with caution on asthenic symptoms. But no all asthenic symptoms are unsuitable for this exercise. We can use the subjugation or reverse restriction mechanism to treat some symptoms. For example, if the deficient spleen and stomach are caused by hyperactivity of liver fire, we can use the liver-purging method by spelling “Xu” (for the liver) to restore the normal state of the spleen and stomach. In this case the subjugation method is used for treatment. If the liver affects the lungs and lungs become weak, we can also purge liver fire by spelling “Xu” (for the liver) in order to eliminate the root cause, regain balance, remove the pulmonary symptoms, and restore the normal functions.

While using Liu Zi Jue to control and prevent some diseases, we can use long exhalation and short inhalation to purge the excess. But we should put some limits on both the number of breaths and the amount of each breath and should not take excessive breaths. Therefore we need to gradually increase the number of breaths; otherwise the vital energy will be impaired.

During the regulation of emotional changes, Liu Zi Jue does have some effect on self-regulation. But it is not the only approach. Psychological counseling and necessary medication should also be used.

Reference: The Important Role of Health Qigong – Liu Zi Jue in Regulating Emotions

Liu Zi Jue: Six Sounds Approach to Qigong Breathing Exercises (Chinese Health Qigong Associat)
by The Chinese Health Qigong Association
ISBN 1848190069

Answers to the Health Qigong – Liu Zi Jue

1. Where does the Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue originate?

Liu Zi Jue, which is also called Liu Zi Qi Jue, is one kind of traditional health-care methods that is mainly exercised by ways of inhaling and exhaling. Liu Zi Jue has very long and widespread history and cab be recorded back to the Southern and Northern Dynasties (A.D402-581). During its widespread transmission, Liu Zi Jue has been replenished and consummated by medical practitioners or regimen practicers of different dynasties.

Based on the traditional Liu Zi Jue, Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue is invented and arranged by means of modern scientific theories and methods. In order to make it more scientific and reasonable, the order of the six words Xu, He, Hu, Si, Chui, Xi, their pronunciation and the form of mouth are modulated and regulated during its invention and arrangement.

2. What are the characteristics of the Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue?

Each word of the six words of Liu Zi Jue is one part of the integrity and also has its own solitary feature. There is systematic and standard pronunciation and the type of mouth when it is practiced together with simple guiding action. In all, as one of the regime including inhaling and exhaling and guiding, the characteristics of Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue can be generalized as follows: inward and outward exercising, flexible, slow and graceful actions, dynamic and static combination, being simple and easy to be studied, safe and effective.

3. What are the body-building actions of the Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue?

Scientific research test demonstrate that the total life quality of the practicers can be boosted after the exercise with the ameliorated tendency of physiological and psychological state as well as more harmonious interpersonal and family relation. What’s more, the result of investigation about the disease rehabilitation in the subject group show that the Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue is effective for the middle and aged people on relieving some chronic diseases to some extent.

4. The Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue is a little unique among the four kinds of Health Qi Gong, why?

It is different from the other three kinds of Health Qigong that the Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue takes breathing as the mainstay and simple guiding movements accompanying the breathing routines such as Xu, He, Hu, Si, Chui and Xi to regulate the function of the liver, heart, spleen, lung and kidney, Sanjiao and strengthen the bone and musculature, enhance the health and recover the diseases. The guiding movements must be relaxed, gentle, flexible and slow. Breathing and pronunciation can’t be disturbed by the guiding movements. It is why the Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue is different from the other three kinds of Health Qigong.

5. Why must the reverse abdominal breathing be applied during the exhalation in the practice of the Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue?

There are two common breathing training methods including thoracic breathing, which is mainly characterized as the intercostals muscle movement, and abdominal respiration which is characterized as the diaphragmatic muscle movement. The latter includes abdominal breathing and reverse abdominal breathing. The natural breathing method is taken in the Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue in most time. But reverse abdominal breathing is taken during the exhaling pronunciation in each time, that is to say, the lower abdomen is mildly adducted in the course of the inhaling and relaxed in the course of exhaling to let it naturally pluck up.

According to the theory of the traditional Qigong, when you inhale by ways of reverse breathing, congenital vital Qi is heaved from your lower abdomen to your chest; in the meantime, fresh air in the nature is absorbed in your chest and then the former and the latter are mixed there. Then turbid air is exhaled outside your body and enriched vital Qi are descended to your lower abdomen. This way of breathing can practise Qi, cultivate Qi and make your body healthy but also prevent dry mouth and tongue, dizziness, head distension or even fatigue from incorrect pronunciation. It is also one kind of practicing methods that is concerned with Kan Li intersection, heart and kidney in balance, heart and kidney intersection with markedly body-building effect in the traditional Qigong theory. That’s why it must by used in the course of exhaling and pronunciation in the Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue.

6. How to make pronunciation and reverse abdominal breathing match well in the exercise of Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue?

It is one of the keys to make expiration and pronunciation and reverse abdominal breathing match well in the exercise of Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue. Otherwise the effect of practice will be impacted or dry mouth feeling or fatigue is possible to ensue. You must pay your attention to feel the gradual relaxation and enrichment of Qi from your mouth, throat, chest, to your abdomen step by step rather than to the breathing in the course of pronunciation and exhalation. That is the method called mind participating with Qi, mind following with Qi and Qi storing in the Dantian.

7. Why is it that mind should be combined with breathing and body in the Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue?

As breathing is the mainstay accompanying with movements in the exercise of Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue, so strong mind and thought maybe result in rigid movements, which is easy to cause rapid breathing or even affect the quality of three kinds of regulation function. Then the practicers can’t get to the state of relaxation and quietness. Internal balance of the body will be destroyed and disorder of movement of Qi will be likely to ensue. Therefore the practicer should make his mind fit with breathing and movements and pay attention to be relaxed, harmonious and natural, not forgetting nor helping. He can’t intend to prolong the slow exhalation and pronunciation as well as gentle movements nor make mind scatter to separate it from breathing and movements.

8.What are the methods and main points of the breathing in the Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue?

The method of breathing is mainly reverse abdominal breathing, in which the chest is slowly expanded and the abdomen is mildly abducted while the air is absorbed in the nostril and vice versa while the air is exhaled in the mouth. This kind of breathing can increase the amplitude of the rise and fall of the diaphragm and be able to promote the whole circulation of Qi and blood and act as health protection for Zang and Fu.

In the breathing of Liu Zi Jue, mild rather than strong mind should be paid attention just like to be a little on purpose or a little by accident. Breath should be fine and long during the exhalation. It should be weak and natural and not straining while the air is absorbed through the nostril. Expanding or retracting the abdomen on purpose is not suitable.

9. What is the body-building theorem of the Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue in Chinese medicine?

According to the theory of traditional Chinese medicine, man is one part of the universe and human as well as heaven and earth is integrity. So man’s physiological function and health will be affected by nature. It is correlated and corresponded among the man’s Zang and Fu that include liver, heart, spleen, lung and kidney and five elements that include wood, fire, earth, gold and water and the pronunciation of six kinds of mouth form such as Xu, He, Hu, Si, Chui and Xi.

So the pronunciation that the six sounds are uttered is used to regulate the corresponding Zang and Fu according to the corresponding relation between the five Zang and five kinds of sounds in the Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue, that is to say, Xu can regulate liver, He can regulate heart, Hu can regulate spleen, Si can regulate lung, Chui can regulate kidney, Xi can regulate Sanjiao. The practicer can expire the turbid air produced by the Zang Fu in the course of uttering and exhalation and absorb the fresh air in nature in the course of the corresponding movements and inhalation. Such course can regulate the circulation of Qi and blood of the practicer and make Yin and Yang of five Zang and six Fu balance and then play the role of body-building, health-care, get rid of diseases and prolong the lifespan.

10. How does the Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue reduce the body fat of the middle and aged people?

The ratio of the body fat is the index reflecting the component of the body, it is usually 20-30% for the adult female and it means obese over 30%. The study show that the ratio and weight of body fat of the practicers are drastically decreased after exercising the Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue for half a year, that is to say, it can prevent obesity and make their configurations more favorable for the middle and aged practicers.

Answers to the Health Qigong –Liu Zi Jue Chinese Health QiGong Association

Liu Zi Jue: Six Sounds Approach to Qigong Breathing Exercises (Chinese Health Qigong Associat)
by The Chinese Health Qigong Association
ISBN 1848190069

Appearance, Sound, Breathing, Spirit and Verve of Health Qigong – Liu Zi Jue

Appearance, Sound, Breathing, Spirit and Verve of Health Qigong • Liu Zi Jue

The Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue is a set of Qigong exercises with the characteristics of being easy to learn, remarkable efficacy, unique style and strong Qigong features. It is mainly dealing with the inhaling and exhaling breathing, and at the same time coordinating with six unique pronunciation methods of Xu, He, Hu, Si, Chui, and Xi. In addition, it is supported by corresponding movements and mental ideas to adjust the five primary systems of human beings such as the liver, heart, spleen, lung and kidney as well as San Jiao and the vital energy’s function. By means of these above-mentioned principles, it can achieve the purpose of softening tendon & strengthening bone, improving organs, adjusting physical health and rehabilitation.

With the gradual popularity of Health Qigong, the Liu Zi Jue has won favor by the ever-increasing number of people. However, due to the simple actions of Liu Zi Jue, and every movement should be repeated 3-6 times, beginners as well as those practitioners that are unfamiliar with it can not help but think it a little bit of boring. In fact, as long as practitioners can gradually improve from the five aspects of appearance, sound, breathing, spirit and verve, they will gradually appreciate the wealth of essence and its serene charm. Naturally, when demonstrating Liu Zi Jue, the skilled practitioners can convey the integration of appearance, breathing, spirit and verve with the unique Qigong features.

Appearance- postural movements

With regard to the postural movements, it is necessary to be generous stretch, slow and soft, adept and natural, serene and smooth like floating clouds and flowing water, with harmonious ambience between human beings and breathing flow, which fully reflect the radiant charm of the unique tranquility and gentle beauty.

It is required that all the actions and movements especially elbow and knee should be relaxed as much as possible. In particular, it is prohibitive to violate the fundamental requirements for expiratory and respiratory functions as well as the even, small, gentle, flexible and long characteristics of pronunciation.

It is required that the connections between individual action, the cohesion of the rhythm of breathing and even the conversion of ideas when practicing should regard the navel as the focus. From this perspective, it is conspicuously showed in the demonstration of specific actions, which all require both hands should keep the same height with the navel, especially the “Lao Gong Acupoints” of the palms should be at the same height with the navel.

Sound—Pronunciation, shape, breathing and vocalizing

The pronunciation, shape and breathing are the Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue unique practicing methods as well as the core, difficulties and key points needed to be specially paid attention when practicing Liu Zi Jue. According to the verification and research by the experts in the fields of Qigong, Chinese traditional medicine, phonology and other related literature, it has been proved that the six characters of Xu, He, Hu, Si, Chui and Xi all have the radical of Kou, which means a specific state of pronunciation. For instance, taking the character of Xu Zi Jue as example, when we just finished a very stressful job, we would instinctively pronounce Xu in order to ease the depressed mood and feel relaxed and relieved. While if under this occasion, we only read the character Xu in the way of Putonghua or Pinyin pronunciation, it is difficult to achieve the health effects of fitness, because only in a particular state and exclusive pronunciation, shape and breathing can play the particular role, so as the Lu Zi Jue. It is specially needed to note that it is far from enough just relying on the Putonghua and Pinyin to pronounce Liu Zi Jue. It is necessary to find the particular shape and breathing in the particular state. Only in this way can we achieve the purpose of health preserving and care.

The steps for learning pronunciation, shape and breathing are as following. In the first place, it is necessary to use pronunciation-correcting method to achieve the initial purpose of standardizing mouth, and then use the standardizing shape of mouth to control the expiratory and respiratory breathing. According to the differences between the thickness, degree and phonation places, it is necessary to adjust the corresponding the body organs involving with phonation.

With regard to the degree of phonation, for beginners, it is advised to practice out loud at first and then whispered. After skilled practice, it is natural to gradually change into a low voice practice. After practicing long time and mastering in proficiency, you can switch into the phase of “silent” practice with only breathing but without any phonation and gradually achieve to the level of ancient people as “silent voice means vocalizing, and vocalizing equates with silent voice.” At the phase of practicing vocalizing, the essentials for phonation are low, vibrated, and penetrated, which is just like the temple bell and drum.

Breathing—the expiratory and respiratory functions

The basic requirements in terms of breathing are: even, fine, gentle, and long. At the same time, it is necessary to comply with the step-by-step principle and should not pursue deliberately and mechanically.

Natural breathing: apart from respiratory phonation method, the Liu Zi Jue mainly employs the natural breathing methods using nasal breathing. In other words, the overwhelming time of practicing the whole set of Liu Zi Jue, it is required to use the nasal breathing method. Otherwise, it is easy to generate the polypnea caused by tension, which should pay special attention to avoid.

3, Reverse abdominal breathing: it is a way of breathing that when expiratory breathing, it is necessary to slightly draw the abdomen, while respiratory breathing, it is necessary to naturally protrude. The Health Qigong Liu Zi Jue regularly employs the reverse abdominal breathing method with nasal inhaling and mouth exhaling. The reasons for employing this special breathing method are that when respiratory breathing, the innate vital energy rises to the chest through lower abdomen, while at the same time the acquired vital energy from the nature is been inhaled to chest by nasal, which can incorporate the innate and acquired vital energy in body. When expiratory breathing, the flatus discharged can exhale out of the body, and the vital energy full of nutrition can be absorbed into the Dantian. It is not only beneficial to interact the essence of vital energy and enhance the health preserving and care but also positive to avoid thirsty, dizziness, fatigue caused by incorrect pronunciation. It is also a traditional theory on improving the body immunity as well as enhancing the heart and kidney functions.

Spirit-the spiritual idea

It is necessary to concentrate on practicing and avoid drowsy lethargy and absent-mindedness.

. The focus should be on the coordination between action, breathing and phonation.

It is prohibitive to over emphasize the spiritual ideas but rather it is advised to maintain balance and natural manner. Otherwise, with the too strong spiritual idea, it is impossible to achieve the requirement of relax and natural.

It is required to maintain relax and natural manner. After the actions achieve the norms, it is advisable to pay less attention to the movements of limbs. If you pay too much attention to movements of limbs, it may lead to rigid movement and irregular and short breathing and other relevant problems.

Verve—the verve of Qigong

1. It is required to highly integrate the appearance, sound, breathing, spirit and verve when practicing. It is better to match the appropriate music to enhance the integration of emotion.

. The Health Qigong is a quiet and comfortable way to keep fitness. Therefore, when practicing, it is positive to exert every effort to experience the atmosphere of serene, joy and warm.

Health Qigong is a way of exercise with the characteristics of compatible dynamic and static. Although there is the charming of feminine and gentleness, we should pay attention to the interactive dynamic and static features.

If you can achieve the status of highly integration of appearance, sound, breathing, spirit and verve when practicing, it is naturally to demonstrate unique and elegant charming for both individual as well as the Health Qigong. As far as the practitioner is concerned, it is beneficial to enhance the health from outside facial appearance to the internal organs.

Zhang Mingliang

Appearance, Sound, Breathing, Spirit and Verve of Health Qigong • Liu Zi Jue Chinese Health QiGong Association

Liu Zi Jue: Six Sounds Approach to Qigong Breathing Exercises (Chinese Health Qigong Associat)
by The Chinese Health Qigong Association
ISBN 1848190069

Breathing Methods and Practice Tips of Health Qigong

by Gong Lihui 2012

Breathing practice is one of the important exercises in practicing Health Qigong. Only when the exerciser is aware of the importance of breathing, using the correct breathing posture with right methods to make the most of breathing, can he learn Health Qigong well and reach the goal of dispelling diseases and strengthening his body.

Breathing is an Important Part of Health Qigong

Health Qigong is a traditional Chinese physical exercise, the movements of which mainly combine exerciser’s body movement, breathing and psychological regulation together. Health Qigong is characterized by its breathing exercise, which makes it fundamentally different from other physical exercises. In a sense, Health Qigong is the practice of inhaling and exhaling. Therefore, before practicing Health Qigong, one should be clear about the importance of breathing, and take it as a key exercise in Health Qigong.

The Breathing of Health Qigong is an Active One

Different from our normal breathing, which is inborn, instinctive, automatic and unconscious, the breathing of Health Qigong is active, conscious and can be regulated by the exerciser. The instinctive breathing of human beings is controlled by nervous centralis in lower brain stem such as medulla, mesocephalon, and spinal marrow. The breathing regulated by Health Qigong is controlled by the upper brain respiratory center like cerebral cortex. These two control centers are totally independent. And this is the difference between the kind of breathing system and some biological systems controlled by automatic nerves, such as cardiovascular system, digestive system and endocrine system. Health Qigong is just based on the regulatory subjective awareness of the breathing system. By making full use of this regulatory subjective awareness of the breathing system and through conscious practice, Health Qigong helps one regulate and strengthen his breathing activity in a scientific way, facilitate the flow of one’s qi and blood so as to achieve the aim of dispelling illness and keeping fit.

Breathing Regulation is the Central Link of the “Three Regulations”

The regulations of body movement, breathing and psychology are the three elements of Health Qigong, which are also known as “three regulations”. The regulation of body movement means adjusting the figure and posture of body to make it suitable and relaxed to do the practice. Breathing regulating means adjusting the rhythm of breath, making it flow naturally to promote blood circulation and massage internal organs, meridian and collateral. Psychological regulation means adjusting one’s mental activities through eliminating distractions to improve the practice effect. The regulation of body movement is the premise; the breathing regulation is the core, dominating the other two; and psychological regulation is the guarantee and is subordinate to breathing practice. The three regulations are interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing. They combine with each other organically and none of them is dispensable. As ancient people put it, “without correct body movement, your qi will not flow well. Without a well flow of qi, your mind will get no peace. Without peace in mind, you will have your qi decentralized.” Only when your spirit and body harmoniously combine together, can qi flow smoothly inside your body, thus achieving the effect of keeping in good health.

Breathing Makes Health Qigong Safe and Effective

Breathing is the Key to Keep Vitality

According to the theory of traditional Chinese medicine, “the qi between heaven and the earth keeps a man alive.” “Men live by the qi between heaven and the earth according to the law of four seasons” (Su Wen• Bao Ming Quan Xing); “qi is the foundation of human beings” (Nan Jing • Ba Nan); “Everything in the universe relies on qi.”(Lei Jing • She Sheng Lei); “Human beings live with qi, and qi is inside one’s body. None can live without QI.”(Pao Pu Zi by Ge Hong in the Jin Dynasty). All these sayings show that “qi” is the living root of human beings and every other thing in the universe. Qi is the way how life exists. With good qi, one can keep fit; otherwise, one will get disease. Without qi, one would die. The end of breath means the end of life.

The theory of traditional Chinese medicine also believes that genuine qi, the qi inside one’s body, is consisted of source qi, ancestral qi, nutrient qi and defense qi. Source qi is the intrinsic qi, which is the qi of kidney. Nutrient qi is made of the qi generated from digesting food and water; it is the nutrient qi that moves through blood and across five internal organs. defense qi is generated from the qi of water and food, running outside the veins and across the skin; it is defense qi that protect one from disease. ancestral qi is the qi one takes from nature; it is breathed into one’s lung and heart, promoting the movement of nutrient qi and defense qi. This is to say that ancestral qi, which comes from the breath, is the fundamental drive to maintain one’s life. This is where the medical science of keeping fit lies by using breathing to guide qi and blood flow.

Breathing Helps One Keep Healthy

Talking about learning Health Qigong, some people will ask, “Is it safe? Can you feel the qi?” People raise such questions because some exercisers of Qigong suffered instead of gaining health because of their misbehaviors during practice. Therefore, they do not dare to practice Qigong any more.

The feel about qi is the feeling exercisers sensed about the movement and concentration of qi and blood inside their bodies. Only when exercisers have practiced Health Qigong to a certain level and only when there are abundant qi and blood inside their bodies with smooth meridian and collateral and high concentration, can they have this feeling of qi. Ignoring assiduous and hard practice, trying to find a short-cut way to keep fit and just pursuing the feeling of qi will do no good to one’s health. In the past, some people got hurt during the practice of Health Qigong, mainly because they ignored the dominant position of breathing and only pursued the feeling of qi.

Since 2003, the GASC Health Qigong Administration Center has successively introduced four sets of methods to practice Health Qigong, that is, Yi Jin Jing,Wu Qin Xi,Liu Zi Jue,Ba Duan Jin, and five new sets of methods, that is Health Qigong • Da Wu, Mawangdui Daoyin Shu, Shi Er Duan Jin, Dao yin Yang Sheng Gong Shi Er Fa and Tai Chi Yang Sheng Zhang. These methods have absorbed the essence of traditional Chinese Qigong methods, basing on Chinese and Western medicine, physical exercise and related modern scientific theories, and have established the core position of breathing regulation among three regulations. These methods are not only scientific, effective, with diversified types, but also easy to learn and can effectively prevent improper practice and safety risks.

The Breathing Methods of Health Qigong

The Categories of Breathing

Health Qigong is a physical exercise focusing on breathing practice. Therefore, one must thoroughly understand and master different methods of breathing and practicing tips. The breathing of Health Qigong has two basic methods. One is thoracic breathing,that is natural breathing. The other is abdominal breathing, which can be further divided into smooth abdominal breathing and reverse abdominal breathing. And reverse abdominal breathing can be divided into loose anal reverse abdominal breathing and levator anti reverse abdominal breathing.

The natural breathing used in Health Qigong is almost the same as people’s instinctively natural breathing. The two breathing styles are all relaxed, natural, with exerciser’s chest rising up and down at a relatively higher rate, and his defense has the slightest movement. The difference between these two breathing styles is that the breathing rate of Health Qigong is relatively slower, and it has to change according to the body movements, and between inhaling and exhaling there are transitional movements such as breath-hold and pause, which is completely absent under the instinctive state of natural breathing.

When the exerciser uses abdominal breathing, his abdomen will rise up and down with the breathing rhythm, and at the same time, his chest will also expand and contract. Smooth abdominal breathing means exerciser’s abdomen is adducted when he inhales, and bulged when he exhales. On the contrary, if exerciser’s abdomen is adducted when he exhales, and bulged when he inhales, he is doing reverse abdominal breathing. What’s more, if his muscles of the anus and perineum get loose when he inhales, he is using loose anal reverse abdominal breathing; if his anus and perineum muscles tighten up when he inhales, he is using the levator anti reverse abdominal breathing.

Basic Exercise and Requirements of Breathing

The breathing of Health Qigong, regardless of its styles, is made up by four movements: inhale, exhale, breath holding and breath pause. When you inhale, holding the air you breathe in for a very short time is called breath holding; when you exhale, stopping your breathe temporarily is called breathing pause. An inhalation and an exhalation make up a breath. A breath must include one inhale and one exhale, but not every breath must include breath holding and breath pause. Breath holding and breath pause should be practiced in a flexible way according to needs of body movements such as when you stretch your limbs with tension, lift or twist your body, and when you want to have a rest or relax yourself. According to ancient people, “improper exhale of breath and breath pause would do harm to one’s health.” Therefore, your inhale and exhale should go slowly and smoothly, without straining yourself by inhaling too much air and exhale all you have. Breath holding and breath pause should also be practiced in a gentle way. Doing this for too long or with too much force is not good for your health.

Breathing is usually done by inhaling and exhaling through nose. For those with needs to make sound, such as the Health Qigong • Liu Zi Jue and Three Plates Falling on the Floor in Yi Jin Jing, the exerciser should inhale through nose and exhale through mouth. As an energy-saving and low-oxygen physical exercise, Health Qigong will help exercisers gradually develop a deep and fine breathing style, with their breathing rate dropping from 16 to 18 times per minute (the normal rate for natural breathing) to 5 to 6 times per minute. However, this must be a gradual process of practicing, and the exerciser should not hurry and rush to next stages. Otherwise there will be three uncomfortable responses, that is “wind response”(with sound in your breath), “puff response”(breathing without sound but feel stagnating and dry in your nose) and “gasp response”(with your nose flapping). These will do no good to your health, but also will upset you and reduce the effect of exercise.

The basic requirements of Health Qigong for breathing is that when practicing the thoracic breathing, the exerciser should breathe according to his body movement, naturally and gently in a coordinated way without gasp or stagnation; when practicing the abdominal breathing, the exerciser should keep his movement and breath in line with each other, with gentle movement and deep breath, guiding every breath to his navel. No matter which method the exerciser adopts, he should let his body movement guide his breath, and let the breath flow all over his body, reaching the goal of harmonizing both the outside body and inside breath in the end. The basic law to keep body movement and breath in line with each other is to inhale when one starts, to exhale when one finishes, inhale first and exhale latter, inhale to store qi, and exhale to deliver air. Exercisers should follow this law instead of practicing against it. Otherwise, the exerciser will feel uncomfortable such as suppressed in his chest, be short of breath, oppressed in heart and palpitate.

The Similarities and Differences between 9 Breathing Methods

Health Qigong has four breathing methods and five new methods. All breathing styles are determined by the characteristics of each method, which generally can be divided into the following three types.

Using One Kind of Breathing from the Very Beginning to the End

This type can be further divided into another two styles; one is using natural breathing from the very beginning to the end, for example, Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing and Da Wu. Since this method involves very big body movement with complicated changes, excessive pursuit of deep and fine breath will result in “wind” “puff” and “gasp” responses. Therefore, natural breathing is required through the very beginning to the end. Only in this way can body movement and breath always become gentle and coordinated.

Another style is using abdominal breathing from the very beginning to the end, such as the Health Qigong • Liu Zi Jue and Dao yin Yang Sheng Gong Shi Er Fa. Dao yin Yang Sheng Gong Shi Er Fa uses smooth abdominal breathing from the very beginning to the end, keeping body movement and breath in line with each other, with gentle movement and deep breath, guiding every breath to the navel like divine turtle breathing. The Health Qigong • Liu Zi Jue uses reverse abdominal breathing throughout the whole process, which is the only one out of the nine methods that specifically focuses on inhale and exhale exercises. From the very beginning to the end, the exerciser inhales through nose and exhales through his mouth, and at the same time making a sound (one can also only exhale without making any sound after he is very skilled in this practice), paying attention to the deep and fine breathing.

Gradually Transition from One Method to Anther

This type of method means the exerciser starts from the natural breathing, and latter gradually transits to abdominal breathing, mainly including Health Qigong •·Ba Duan Jin, Mawangdui Daoyin Shu, Tai Chi Yang Sheng Zhang these three methods. Ba Duan Jin and Tai Chi Yang Sheng Zhang require using natural breathing at the beginning stage and gradually transiting to abdominal breathing as his body movement is more skillful and get into a higher practicing level. Mawangdui Daoyin Shu requires exercisers use natural breathing as a base, letting the body movement guide the breath, using his mind to guide the flow of breath inside his body, and finally harmonizing both the body movement and breath. In this way, his body will become gentle. As the body movements such as pitching, reversing, lifting, landing and folding intensify, his breath will become more deep and fine. Then his breathing will transit to abdominal breathing. The difference between the two is that Ba Duan Jin and Tai Chi Yang Sheng Zhang begin from natural breathing; and transit to abdominal breathing when the movement gets more skillful, while the Mawangdui Daoyin Shu is based on natural breathing, and transits to abdominal breathing with the intensification of body movement.

Frequent Transition between Different Breathing Methods

This type of breathing includes natural breathing, smooth abdominal breathing, reverse abdominal breathing, levator anti breathing and so on, with Health Qigong·• Wu Qin Xi, and Shi Er Duan Jin as two main methods. The transition between different breathing styles doesn’t need to follow any fixed order, and it changes according to the needs and changes of body movements in different practicing methods. In Wu Qin Xi, the body movements of “colliding with the antlers” and “picking fruit” use natural breathing; “seizing the prey ” and “stretch upward” use smooth abdominal breathing, and other six movements use reverse abdominal breathing, among which only “lifting the monkey’s paws” uses reverse abdominal breathing plus levator ani breathing. In Shi Er Duan Jin, “Ming Xin Wo Gu”,“Kou Chi Ming Gu”, “Yao Shen Huang Hai” and “Bei Mo Jing Men” use natural breathing; “Wen Xu Ji Lun” uses smooth abdominal breathing, and the other seven movements use reverse abdominal breathing plus levator anti breathing. No matter what kind of breathing the exerciser adopts, he should relax himself without suppressing his breath. And it is better to inhale and exhale neither too fast nor too slow. By using different breathing methods, the exerciser can regulate the qi and blood in five internal organs, dredge the meridian of his body and reach the effect of physical fitness.

Three Stages of Breathing Exercise

The Initial Stage of Unregulated Natural Breathing

Beginners of Health Qigong can use people’s instinctive natural breathing without subjective control to focus on learning body movement instead of breathing exercise. In this way, exercisers can not only grasp the tips of each movement quickly, but also can keep a smooth and stable breathing. The natural breathing of most people is thoracic breathing, and a small number of people who have received special training can also use natural abdominal breathing. Mankind used abdominal breathing in their early evolution period as natural breathing. After mankind evolved to homo erectus, their lungs rose up and expanded, thus changing from natural abdominal breathing to natural thoracic breathing. New-born babies usually use abdominal breathing at first and slowly change into thoracic breathing. This phenomenon confirms this evolution pattern of human breathing.

The natural breathing of Health Qigong and the completely instinctive natural breathing are not the same. The initial stage of natural breathing naturally follow the principle of letting body movement guide breath, and letting the breath flow all over his body, inhaling when one starts, exhaling when one finishes. This kind of breathing can also be reached naturally by following the body movements. And inhale, exhale, breath holding and pause can also be automatically applied. The basic characteristic of the initial stage of breathing is breathing naturally without any control.

The Intermediate Stage Focusing on Self-regulated Abdominal Breathing

At the intermediate stage, all the nine methods of Health Qigong, except Yi Jin Jing and Da Wu, require exercisers to transit from using natural thoracic breathing to automatic abdominal breathing. At this stage, breathing has changed from the laissez-faire state of unconsciousness back to the central role of subjective concern, with the breathing method shifting from thoracic breathing to abdominal breathing. The depth of breath has been greatly increased, and the amount of oxygen exchange doubled. Breathing slowly becomes deep and stable, with the breathing rate falling, getting closer and closer to 5-6 times per minute.

Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing and Da Wu, using natural breathing from the beginning to the end, also intensify the breathing in the intermediate stage, with internal mind and external body harmonize with each other, the breath flow throughout the whole body and the dominant role of breathing increasingly strengthened. At this stage, the focus of the mental activities shift from body movement to breathing, with every the slightest attention concentrated on breathing. It gradually shows that the body movement serves to breathing. As breathing is intensified, and oxygen is fully exchanged, the regulation and protection effects of breathing towards qi inside one’s body and the five internal organs will become more apparent. As the ancient practice formulas put it, “exhale slowly, and inhale deeply, the inborn qi will be spurred by the cultivated qi.” At this stage, the health effects brought about by Health Qigong will become increasingly apparent. The basic characteristic of breath in the intermediate stage is the “self-regulation”.

The Advanced Stage Focusing on Breathing with Automatic Frequency

At the advanced stage, breathing with automatic frequency is used. It mainly uses abdominal breathing, but can freely switch between a myriad of breathing methods and automatically adjust the breathing rhythm. The human body is a most sophisticated, harmonious, efficient, and automated organism, owning the most perfect self-regulating mechanism that can help the body adapt to various complex environments and maintain a variety of states function well. In the intermediate stage, the self-regulation of breathing is a supplementation and reinforcement to body’s auto-regulation mechanism. This kind of supplementation and reinforcement is very necessary and very useful when one gets sick or is in the state of sub-health, or when the automatic regulation system inside one’s body is imbalanced or lack momentum. But when the automatic regulation system inside one’s body functions well enough, this kind of supplementation and reinforcement is redundant and unnecessary, which may even become unharmonious regulation. Therefore, at the advanced stage, exercisers should breathe naturally, shifting self-regulated breathing back to natural breathing without any regulation.

However, this kind of shifting back is not retrogressive, but a return leaping to a more advanced stage. It is a return looking like the previous one but with totally different nature. It is the negation of negation, a wave-forward progress and upward spiral. The breathing at this stage without regulation does not mean breathing as you like, but breathing naturally, following the whole condition and shifting between various breathing methods. Its rhythm rate may change at random, with body, breath and mind perfectly combined together. The exerciser’s subjective intention is completely in line with the automatic regulation rhythm of the body. Therefore, practicing Health Qigong has become a process of automatically keeping fit and intensification of the body mechanism under the guidance of subjective intention. The basic characteristic of the advanced stage of breathing is “breathing with automatic frequency”.

All in all, those who know the importance of breathing, the key aspect in practicing Health Qigong, have mastered the core skill of the breathing, and give full play to the role of breath regulation, will enjoy greater benefit with less effort.

Reference: Breathing Methods and Practice Tips of Health Qigong

Slowness, Pause, Flexibility, and Observation

by Zhang Mingliang & Cheng Yunhua

When people begin to learn Health Qigong,many people may wonder that why the movements of Health Qigong is always slower than other exercises. Many exercisers who have practiced for many years may come to realize that why they feel comfortable when they exercise slowly. In fact, Practicing Health Qigong is a process which is marked by “slowness, pause, flexibility and observation”. We may discuss it hereon in four aspects as well.


Visually, the slowness in practicing Health Qigong Is mainly refers to moving slowly, which is the outstanding feature that Health Qigong is different from other exercises. Traditional Chinese Health Qigong and the theories of life nourishing of TCM believes that the human body is a single whole. It is composed of three parts, one of which is the visible body and the other two are invisible Qi and mind. The body is visual and QI can also be experienced by breathing. Mind may understand by insight only and be difficult to express, but everyone can sense its existence. If we experience the motion speed of the body, Qi and Mind, we can easily find that mind is the fastest (having one’s head in the clouds, which may change quickly), the body is faster (the movements is controlled by the mind and they can be fast and be slow), Qi is the slowest (Qi moves in the meridians of the body at an inherent speed).

As we all know, the goal of practice is to “three regulations”: regulating the body, regulating of breathing and regulating the mind. The high level of practice is the unity of the three. The motion speed of the three should be about the same to achieve the unity. Because the speed of breath cannot be changed, then we can only change the speed of the body and mind. Hence, the exercisers should find a way to slow down the mind (calm down) and the movements (be relaxed). So slowness is an important means of practice. Therefore, judging from the nine sets of Health Qigong which is promoted successively by the Health Qigong Management Center of the State Sports General Administration, the “slowness” is their common feature and the moving speed of the recent five sets of exercises are much slower than that of the previous four sets. Leading the students, I have performed Health Qigong•Da Wu with the music “See steppe with you”, which is praise for its grace, stretch and presence of mind.


When people practice the nine sets of Qigong, a lot of movements should be exercised slowly or even pause. The most obvious one is the Health Qigong `Liu Zi Jue, in which there are short pauses after almost every action set. In general, the action is always faster than the breath. The ancients said: when people Breathe out breathe in, Qi goes six inches (equal with the height of a person). And the range is much greater when people move and exercise. So sometimes we need pause slightly and wait for the intersection of the breath. For example: there are many short pauses that have been marked in Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing, Ba Duan Jin, Shi Er Duan Jin, Da Wu etc. Although the pauses are not specified in some stances, there also are short pauses after every action set in general. If the exercisers do not understand the mysteries in them and move fast and versatilely, it would come to naught. Therefore, no matter what exercises we practice, we had better know that where we should pause, what changes of breath after pause in practice and what kind of effect it has achieved after a long time.

Maybe the beginners are too late to comprehend because they are eager to be familiar with the routine, then if the skilled exercisers are not good at summing up the experience, or even always imitate others. It is really a waste of time to exercise.

What should be indicated hereby is that the pause is just a short time pause of movement, but the breath did not stop. Thus “be continuous” that we demand in the practice, mainly refers to the breath. Although the routine is paused, the breath is still continuous.


The so-called “flexibility” mainly refers to that the movements should be stretch and flexible, but not stiff. After standing up, the human brain is smarter, but it has also paid a price and the spinal column did bending deformation. So many movements in the routines of Qigong are intended to stretch the tendons and pull the bones to facilitate the flow of blood and Qi. Sometimes reverse movements are needed distinguishingly to be corrected.

“Two points stretching method” will be introduced here. For example: When standing, you can imagine that the head stand up to the heaven and the feet grab the earth, then head and feet are the two furthest apart reverse stretching endpoint; Another example: When both hands flat on the formation of a Chinese character “Da”, you can imagine the left and right hands are toward the most distant places, then the middle finger of the right hand and left hand are the two furthest apart reverse stretching endpoint; Another example is the stretch waist stance in Health Qigong•Da Wu, the body bend forward about 45 degrees, put the palms together and stretch out forward and upward until the inner sides of the upper arm is near the ears. Meanwhile, coordinating with inhale, the heels go backward and downward, then the middle fingertips of the palms and the heels are the two furthest apart reverse stretching endpoint. Next, the arms continue to move to the top of the extension, the heels lift and the soles grip the earth, then the middle fingertips of the palms and the soles are also the two furthest apart reverse stretching endpoint. There are many similar movements in the nine sets of Qigong exercises and we will not list all of them here.

What should be noted is that not all movements require the “two points stretching method”. We stress that alternating tension with relaxation in practice and the tension is just in the short time pause, the followed relaxation can facilitate the flow of blood and Qi better. In the state of relaxation, the arms stretched as cylindrical arc and the moving route is also cylindrical arc, which embodies the feature of the stance e.g. loose, round, soft, flexible, graceful and stretch. “Exercises practice in a flexible way and achieve success finally.” Therefore, the range of movements is very large, which includes not only “straight” but also” round”.


Just as its name suggests, the notes of “observation“ in Xinhua Dictionary is view (observation, sightseeing); the scene (spectacle, spectacularity) people viewed; the understanding and views (viewpoints, ideas) of things; abbey (Taoist temple). The “concept” we discuss in this text only means “observation”, and “looking on” with imposing conditions.

After we practice for a long time and with proper methods, we will experience the feelings: “air-feeling” and “insight” etc. The more obvious and common feeling is “air-feeling”, and sometimes the exercisers feel throbbing, sore, numb and ache in the points that Qi flows in the meridian. At this time, if the practitioners did not have enough skill to regulate, they can simply look on and let these feelings in the body sweep over quickly. Heart is like a mirror. Just let the feelings go away and the exercisers need not bother to worry or command. Otherwise, people may deviate and possessed by the Devil. However, having feelings is better than no feeling. An important reward resulted from the progress of practice is that exercisers are more sensitive to their bodies and are able to observe the blood flow of their own, in order to facilitate us to adjust the method in practice.

“Observation” means observing the inside of the body. The practitioners who have been practicing for a long time can experience a sense of quiet. For example: there are movements, such as holding upward and falling, in the closing forms of most of the stances. While holding upward, hold both hands with both arms in the shape of arc and coordinate with the breath, exercisers can observe that the fresh air that we breathe in meet the Qi from cinnabar field of the human body in the chest. . While falling, then just breath and both hands free fall effortlessly. Coordinating with omphaloskepsis, the gas in the chest also comes down to the cinnabar field.

What should be noted is that the beginners had better practice in the order of “three regulations” first, namely regulating the body (doing body movements), regulating of breathing (coordinating with breath), then regulating the minds (considering appropriate ideas), and finally achieve the unity of the three.

In fact, the beginners just practice it under the correct guidance of teaching books and CD-ROM or the masters and eliminate the distractions, rather than thinking over too much. Practice must be harvested.

In conclusion, “slowness, Pause, flexibility and observation” is the effective routine in practicing the Health Qigong. As long as we practice and digest constantly, the skill that we practice will be improved a lot.

Reference: Health Qigong is Characterized by “Slowness, Pause, Flexibility, and Observation” 

How to Start Qi Movement

Ding Qiubo

How to start Qi movement or how to guide the physical body by Qi are the basic qualities and fundamental basis for the Health Qigong exerciser. Therefore, in Health Qigong·Liu Zi Jue, the exerciser is required to start Qi movement at the very beginning of the ready posture. The same requirement appears also in Health Qigong·Shi Er Duan Jin. In its first Routine “Gongli Function”, it is clearly defined that “calm the heart can purify the brain and keep one’s body and soul in good condition, thereby the mind and Qi shall be combined as one, and the Qi movement shall be started.” In another word, all the methods of Health Qigong require the exerciser to start the Qi movement at the very beginning of the exercise. So how to start Qi movement is the key point to exercise Health Qigong, and it is an important task that should be broke through with great efforts.

Seek a Breakthrough on Theory

Start Qi Movement so that the Health Qigong exercise shall be started. Without starting the Qi movement, the exerciser shall fail to start his health Qigong exercise. The start of Qi movement symbolizes the power of the exerciser’s inner Qi. It means the production of the inner Qi; it can be compared to the very moment when an engine is started. After that moment, the “engine” shall be kept in the working state. To the same sense, as soon as the exerciser’s inner (Cinnabar Field) “Qi” is started, his inner “Qi” shall keep producing; and the moment when the “Qi” is started is defined as the start of Qi movement. It is the necessary route that any exerciser who wants to enhance his Health Qigong cannot make a bypass. Strictly speaking, exercise before the inner Qi is felt is not Qigong exercise in the real sense; or in another word, the exerciser has not master the essence of Health Qigong exercise yet. Vivid gestures without the flow of Qi inside the body are nothing but “parrots” which cannot be taken as the real Qigong exercise, and the exerciser shall stay as a layman in the front door of the palace of Health Qigong. The only way to get the door opened is to learn to start the Qi movement, or the Health Qigong exercise shall stay on the movements of physical body instead of the exercise of “Qi”.

Start Qi Movement so that the Qi shall flow. “Qi movement” appears frequently in the Health Qigong literary materials. It appears for ten times in Health Qigong·Liu Zi Jue, and also several times in 200 Q&A on Health Qigong. To put it in an easy way, “Qi movement” means the flow and movement of Qi; to be more precisely, the Qi movement is the flowing up and down, as well as the opening and closing of Qi. In Health Qigong·Liu Zi Jue, the flow of Qi in the movement of “guiding the Qi in Cinnabar Field up to the chest” shall be felt different for the exerciser before and after the starting of Qi movement. Only when the Qi movement is started, can the exerciser feel naturally the flow of Qi. It is impossible to feel the Qi’s flow unless the Qi movement is started. Therefore, without the feelings of flow of the inner Qi, “External movement guide inner flow” is nothing but an empty talk; because the “inner flow” here is referred to the movement of Qi in the body.

Start Qi Movement so that the Qi shall be conveyed back to the Cinnabar Field. It is impossible for the exerciser to convey his Qi back into the Cinnabar Field without starting the Qi movement. If the Qi movement is not started, then the exerciser shall fail in feeling the inner Qi, so he shall not know where the Qi is going. If the exerciser doesn’t know where the Qi is going, how could he convey it back to the Cinnabar Field? Therefore, an exerciser who fails to feel his inner Qi shall neither feel where it is conveyed to when he finishes the Qigong exercise. Or it can be put into this way that, where should one put the grains without knowing the location of the storehouse? Cinnabar Field is the storehouse where the inner Qi is stored. So if one is to convey his Qi back into the Cinnabar Field, he should firstly find the right place-the Cinnabar Field, the “storehouse of Qi”- to start the movement of Qi.

Start Qi Movement so that the Qi in the body shall flow as a whole. If the Qi movement is not started in Health Qigong exercise, the exerciser’s Qi in the body shall fail to flow as a whole. A general Qi (the experience of feeling the Qi as a whole) is a kind of feeling achieved after the start of the Qi movement that followed by a flow exercise of Qi. A general Qi takes its first step by the start of the Qi movement. In another word, if the exerciser can feel the start of Qi movement through the whole process of forming the earnestness to exercise Health Qigong and performing all the movements, his inner Qi is sufficient enough. Then the feelings of the movement of Qi shall be much clearer, and the state of “Qi flowing all over the body” shall gradually appear. Under this circumstance when his body is feeling “great”, the exerciser’s Health Qigong exercise is naturally transformed from a passive attitude of “have-to-exercise” to an active one of “want-to-exercise”. Thereby, a good Health Qigong exercising state with a general Qi shall be achieved.

“A small spark can burn the whole grassland.” The “spark” is the start of the Qi movement, while the “grassland” is the general Qi. The start of the Qi movement is the introductory certificate of the Health Qigong exercise. So it is necessary for the exerciser to improve his theoretical background I’ve discussed in the previous parts, and pay attention to these matters in Qigong exercise.

Seek a Breakthrough in Practice

The start of Qi movement is a practical process, and the Cinnabar Field is the most important part to do it. So the Cinnabar Field shall be the focus in Health Qigong exercise.

Where is the Cinnabar Field located? The location of the Cinnabar Field shall be felt only when the Qi movement is started. It is important to familiar with the location of the Cinnabar Field, and it is necessary to keep its position in mind in exercise. The location of the Cinnabar Field varies in the four Methods of Health Qigong: in Yi Jin Jing, it is located at Qi Hai Acupoint that is “an inch and a half below the navel”; in Wu Qin Xi, it is located at “the center of the abdomen below the navel”; in Liu Zi Jue, it is at the right point of the navel, or the Shen Que Point; while in Ba Duan Jin, its ready position of “rotating the two arms outward and holding them in front of the bell to form an arc and keep them at the same level of the navel” indicates that the Cinnabar Field is located at the navel too. In accordance with From “Turning the Head and Lowering the Body to Relieve heart fire” to “Raising the Heels and drop seven times to eliminate illness”-the Exercising keys and requirements of the Last Four Forms of Health Qigong ·Ba Duan Jin, (Health Qigong, Journal, 2006(6)), its ending posture is described as “bend over the two arms and fold the Lao Gong Points of the two palms; the left palm kept within, pointing the Guan Yuan Point and folded on the belly, and concentrate ideation in Cinnabar Field (Omphaloskepsis)”. So the Cinnabar Field in this method is clearly defined to be at the Guan Yuan Point. While in 200 Q&A on Health Qigong (Page 9): “The lower Cinnabar Field is located at the abdomen below the navel, it is a part among the relevant Points including Shen Que Point, Guan Yuan Point, Qi Hai Point and Ming Men Point. Generally speaking, Cinnabar Field is particularly referred to the lower Cinnabar Field. ” So where is the Cinnabar Field actually located? My answer is: “Each of the position mentioned above is the right position of an Cinnabar Field.” Then why there are so many Cinnabar Fields in Health Qigong? My explanation includes three reasons as following: firstly, it is a respect and heritage of the traditional methods; secondly, the variations of the Cinnabar Fields don’t influence the start of the Qi movement; thirdly, as soon as the Qi movement is started and the inner Qi is get ready, the Point that comes into the exerciser’s mind shall be the Cinnabar Field. That is to say: “where there is Qi, there is the key; while without Qi, there’s only vague.” After the Qi movement is started, it will be easier and clearer to define the location of the Cinnabar Field.

What the Cinnabar Field looks like? Only when the Qi movement is started, then can the exerciser truly feel the Cinnabar Field. The Cinnabar Field is a region without clear boundary. Our ancestors believed that there were “ever-young pill” inside our body, so it was unnecessary to search for the recipes from the outside world; and the part where the “magic pills” are created is in the Cinnabar Field. The metaphors “Storehouse” “Engine” in the previous part and the “Air Pump” in the following part of the essay are employed to define what the Cinnabar Field looks like. In fact, there’s no need to define how the Cinnabar Field looks like, because if the Qi movement cannot be started, it is useless to define it. The veil of the Cinnabar Field can be uncovered only when the Qi movement is started.

What is the function of the Cinnabar Field? This is two of my personal feelings about the Cinnabar Field: (1) The Cinnabar Field is the position to start the Qi movement, the source of the inner Qi, and the motive power of the Qi to flow and cycle in the body. (2) The heart is a “Blood Pump” which sends the blood to every part of the body in full cycle with its regular beat and release; while the Cinnabar Field can be considered as an “Air Pump” which sends Qi to every corner of the body in full cycle with a regular opening and close. The exerciser should continually enhance the function of the “Air Pump”, so that the effect of Health Qigong exercise shall be improved.

Omphaloskepsis is a common method to start Qi Movement. All the methods of Health Qigong emphasize the importance of the Cinnabar Field in which the inner Qi is produce by starting the Qi movement. Take the formulas of the Four Methods as examples: both the ready and ending postures of Wu Qin Xi contain the “Omphaloskepsis”; the ready posture of Ba Duan Jin contains the same phrase, while in its ending posture, the exerciser is required to “Hold back Qi to Cinnabar Field.” In the ready posture of Liu Zi Jue “Dial withdraw the palm”, the palm is withdrew to the navel, the “navel” here and in the ending posture “crumple the navel” are both referred to the Cinnabar Fields. There is “Shen Bu Wai Chi” in the ready posture of Yi Jin Jing, which means to keep Omphaloskepsis; and there are also three “Hold upward, lead downward” in its ending posture, “lead downward” here means guide the Qi down to the Cinnabar Field, or hold back Qi to Cinnabar Field. It is obvious to see that even though there is difference in the formulas, all the Four Methods emphasize the importance of the Omphaloskepsis. It is the foundation of Health Qigong exercise, and it is a convenient and quick way to start the Qi movement.

Seek a Breakthrough on Key Points

There are various ways to start the Qi movement, just like the old saying goes, “Every road leads to Rome.” However, if the exerciser wants to get into the exercising state, it is necessary for him to grasp the key points. Since the subject’s feelings may vary, the key point to start the Qi movement shall also different from person to person. I will analyze it with my personal feelings as following. Start from Liu Zi Jue, I feel that:

The emphasis of Liu Zi Jue on the exercise of Qi is beneficial to start the Qi movement. One can easily tell, Qi or body, which is the focus of the Four Methods of Health Qigong through the content of their syllabus: the first characteristic of Yi Jin Jing reads “The movements are relaxing, and shall be helpful to stretch the body and relax the bones.”, and its first exercising requirement is to “relax the mind, and combine the body and soul as one.” The second characteristic of Wu Qin Xi reads that “stretch the body and exercise the joints”, and the third one reads that “External movement shall guide inner flow, and the body shall be relaxed and the mind refreshed.” Its exercising requirements are arranged in the order of “body, soul, mind and Qi.” As for Ba Duan Jin, its third characteristic is that “The body and soul are combined, and the Qi is interacted.” In the first exercising requirement of Yi Jin Jing “Relax the mind and combine the body and soul”, it is clearly defined that: “The regulation of the body is the main focus of the exercise.” It is obvious to see from the previous examples that the three Methods all emphasize the combination of the body and soul, and put the exercise of body at the first place. But it is another way around in Liu Zi Jue, which puts the exercise of Qi at the first place. The second characteristic of Liu Zi Jue reads as “Guide with breath, exercise both body and soul”, and its second exercising requirement reads that “Combine the mind with Qi (breath) and body.” So Liu Zi Jue takes exercise of Qi as its focus.

The emphasis of Liu Zi Jue on the importance of the Cinnabar Fieldis is beneficial to start the Qi movement. The requirement of “Taking the navel as the center” in Health Qigong·Liu Zi Jue is actually defining the navel as its Cinnabar Field. Then where is place the “exercise Qi” takes place in Health Qigong·Liu Zi Jue? Where to “start Qi movement”? Where to “gathering Qi”? Where the Qi shall be guided to? The answer for all these questions is the Cinnabar Field. All the movements of Liu Zi Jue take the Cinnabar Field as their focus, and even its inverse abdominal breath is released from the Cinnabar Field. Therefore, if the exerciser can thoroughly grasp the methods of Liu Zi Jue, he shall start the Qi movement soon at the Cinnabar Field.

The emphasis of Liu Zi Jue on the regulation of breath is beneficial to start the Qi movement. Liu Zi Jue is a beneficial exercise to exercise one’s inner Qi (including the start of Qi movement and the flow of Qi), and an exerciser which takes the Cinnabar Field as its core, the breath regulation as its emphasis and the inverse abdominal breathing as the major methods. Liu Zi Jue particularly emphasizes the importance of the Cinnabar Field which offers the best position to start the Qi movement; it also pays close attention to the inverse abdominal breath, which provides the start of Qi movement with a convenient method. I conclude “three magic” of Liu Zi Jue as following: the Cinnabar Field is the magic place, the inverse abdominal breath the magic weapon to exercise Qi, and the inner Qi as its magic fruit.

The practice reveals the truth that, the exerciser should take the key points, so that he shall get a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the Health Qigong. In accordance with my personal experience, I believe that HU Exercise in Liu Zi Jue is much easier to start the Qi movement. I will explain with details in the following part. Firstly, the movements of HU Exercise are the simplest. The movements of HU Exercise look simple on the surface with only an opening and close. Nevertheless, the greatest doctrine is usually expressed in the simplest way. “The laws are valued in its accuracy, and Gong in its delicacy.” The laws of Health Qigong exercise emphasize the accurate quality instead of the quantity, so the exercising methods are considered to be the simpler the better. Therefore this simplest movement with only an opening and close is an Exercise that shall achieve unexpected result. Its opening and close is actually a grand one that takes the Cinnabar Field as its center, both bodily and mentally. Secondly, HU Exercise is the most convenient to be coordinated and regulated. Since it is the simplest exercise, it is the most convenient to be regulated in the breath and the pilot movements. The opening and close of one pilot movement in HU Exercise is coordinated by the opening and close of an inverse abdominal breath, so it is comfortable to exercise it. The exerciser shall meet the requirement of Health Qigong·Liu Zi Jue saying that “The opening and close of the movement should be coordinated by the breath of inner Qi”. With a close regulation and coordination of the opening and close of the abdomen’s breath with the pilot movements, the exerciser shall make a breakthrough in the length and the quantity of breath, and so meet the requirement of Liu Zi Jue to “breathe slowly and lightly.” Therefore, the exerciser should make a breakthrough on HU Exercise to start the Qi movement, and make it the foundation exercise of other methods. Thirdly, HU Exercise is most concentrating exercise. Since its movements are simple, and the breath is much convenient to coordinate with them. Consequently, the exerciser’s mind shall be easier to concentrate, and his thought shall be more sensible to feel the Cinnabar Field. It tends to be much easier for the exerciser to feel the movement of the Cinnabar Field in this calm and sensible state, which does a favor for him to make a breakthrough in the starting of Qi movement. I once experienced in the exercise that, when I breathed directly from the Cinnabar Field, a complete flow of Qi was formed and flowing between the open mouth and the Cinnabar Field. So I believe that the HU Exercise is the best exercise to make a breakthrough in starting the Qi movement.

In conclusion, I’ve discussed in the previous part all the personal feelings I experienced through years of Health Qigong exercise. I am showing them in the hope of offering other exercisers some useful suggestions in starting the Qi movement. To fulfill this goal, besides years of exercise, one should also keep the Omphaloskepsis in the daily life. It is an efficient exercise to start the Qi movement if one always keeps Omphaloskepsis in mind. As long as one sticks to concentrating his mind on the Cinnabar Field, one shall make a breakthrough in the starting of Qi movement naturally, and make a success in Health Qigong exercise.

Reference: My Opinions on How to Start Qi Movement

The Seven Emotions and Qigong

Xia Xuewei; Inner Mongolia Normal University

The seven human emotions, i.e. joy, anger, worry, anxiety, sorrow, fear, and terror are normal phenomena of life activities which do not induce diseases under normal circumstances. However, abnormal fluctuations in the “seven emotions” may directly affect he functions of the viscera, disturb the circulation of blood and Qi, and thus cause diseases. Being affected by these emotions, the exerciser of Health Qigong will not be able to enter a peaceful and calm state free of distracting thoughts. And the results of the exercise will be naturally affected. At the same time, the exercise of Health Qigong also plays a special role in the regulation of the “seven emotions”. Therefore a complete understanding of the physiological and pathological mechanisms of the “seven emotions” is of prime importance and value to the exercise of Health Qigong.

It is believed in theories of the traditional Chinese medicine that: “Anger impairs the liver, joy impairs the heart, worry impairs the spleen, sorrow impairs the lungs, and terror impairs the kidneys.” Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Su Wen: Ju Tong Lun says: “Rage drives Qi upward, overjoy slackens Qi, excessive sorrow consumes Qi, terror collapses Qi, …… and anxiety causes Qi stagnation”. All of these have indicated that the excessive and over-excited “seven emotions” will impair the mental and physical health of man to certain extents.

Joy is an embodiment of the happy and delighted mind. Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Su Wen: Ju Tong Lun says: “Joy will harmonize Qi and facilitate both nutrient and defensive Qi.” But over-joy will impair the cardiac Qi, just as Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Ling Shu: Ben Shen says: “The spirit should be hidden and kept from being lost during joy”, indicating that excessive joy will impair the mind. The heart is the core, commander, and grand master of all the five Zang viscera. It is the key to the health of the body. By practicing Health Qigong, we can regulate the blood-pumping function of the heart and enrich cardiac Qi. For example, the “Second Routine of Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle” in Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing can directly stimulate the Heart Channel of Hand Shaoyin and Pericardium Channel of Hand Jueyin by seating the wrists and erecting the palms and thus regulate the cardiac functions, promote blood and Qi circulation, improve the microcirculation at distal ends, and promote blood circulation of the whole body. The “Ape Exercise” of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi can enhance respiration, massage the heart, and promote the beating function of the heart by lifting and pressing the palms and stretching and retracting the neck, shoulders, and abdomen. In the “He” of Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue, the vocalization of “He” during the piercing movement of palms will expel the turbid Qi of the heart and regulate the cardiac functions. The “Posing as an Archer Shooting Both Left- and Right-Handed” of Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin can regulate the Heart Channel of Hand Shaoyin and the Pericardium Channel of Hand Jueyin and increase the cardiac output.

Anger is an embodiment of agitated emotion of man. People get angry and furious when they are discontent and unsatisfied. Generally speaking, proper expression of emotions is important for maintaining the physiological equilibrium of the human body. But persistent rage, fury, and gloominess will cause negative effects on the organism. Gloominess impairs the liver and upheaves liver Qi. Blood will ascend with the upward invasion of liver Qi, congesting the brain and causing discomfort of the body. This will lead to headaches, cerebral distension, hypochondriac pains, chest distress, dry eye syndrome, and even critical symptoms such as faint, hematemesis, and shock. Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Su Wen: Ju Tong Lun says: “All diseases originate from Qi…… Anger will cause adverse rising of Qi and even hematemesis or diarrhea”. Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Su Wen: Sheng Qi Tong Tian Lun says: “Excessive anger leads to segregation of QI from the configuration; and blood stagnating in the upper part of the body will cause raged syncope.” The liver controls dispersion and blood storage. It facilitates the functional activities of Qi throughout the body, keeps unobstructed circulation of Qi in the channels of all viscera, stores blood, transports blood, and regulates and controls the blood supply for various parts of the body. By practicing Health Qigong, we can improve the dredging, purging, and blood-storing functions of the liver. For example, the “Blue Dragon Reaching out Claws” of Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing disperses the depressed liver Qi and regulates the emotions through leftward and rightward turns of the body, the outreach of the claws, and the forward and sideways bending of the body. The “Tiger Exercise” of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi dredges liver channels and replenishes liver blood through changes in the hand shape and the glaring eyes and down-pouncing movement. In the “Xu” of Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue, the vocalization of “Xu” during the palm-crossing movement will expel the turbid Qi of the liver and regulate the hepatic functions. “Thrusting the Fists and Making the Eyes Glare to Enhance Strength” of Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin can stimulate the liver channel and dredge and nourish the liver through the glaring eyes during the fist-punching movement, the wrist-turning movement during the return, and the gripping of the five fingers.

Worry means something or someone that causes anxiety. Excessive worries will have negative effects on the organism, impede the movements of Qi, and cause Qi stagnation. It is believed in traditional Chinese medicine that: “anxiety causes Qi stagnation”. It was said in ancient times that: “When the shape is not straight, Qi will not move smoothly. When Qi does not move smoothly, the mind will not be at ease. When the mind is not at ease, spirit will be scattered”, indicating that obstructed circulation of Qi has a direct influence on the spirit of man. Excessive worries will lead to obscure complexion in the spleen and stomach, dyspepsia, insomnia and dreaminess, dizziness, and many other symptoms. By practicing Health Qigong, we can improve the converting, generating, and blood-controlling functions of the spleen. For example, “Nine Ghosts Drawing Swords” in Yi Jin Jing massages the spleen and enhances the Splenic functions through twisting and stretching movements of the body. The “Bear Exercise” of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi enhances the converting and generating functions of the spleen and stomach and boosts the nutrient-transporting and blood-transporting capacities of the Splenic Qi through the waist-turning and abdomen-waving movements. In the “Hu” of Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue, the vocalization of “Hu” will expel the turbid Qi and regulate the spleen and stomach. “Holding One Arm Aloft to Regulate the Functions of the Spleen and Stomach” of Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin massages the spleen and stomach, enhances the converting and generating functions of the spleen and stomach, and promotes the smooth circulation of blood and Qi through the up-down alternate pulling movements of the left and right upper and lower limbs.

Sorrow (depression) is the embodiment of sadness and depression. Excessive sorrow will impair the pulmonary Qi and cause short breath, just as Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Ling Shu: Ben Shen says: “sorrow will block Qi and hamper its circulation” and “deficient pulmonary Qi will cause nasal obstruction and asthenia Qi”. By practicing Health Qigong, we can improve the breath-regulating functions of the lungs. For example, both “Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 2” and “Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails” in Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing stimulate the lung channel and enhances the clear-ascending and turbid-descending function and stale-ridding and fresh-intaking functions of lungs. The “Bird Exercise” of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi expands the chest cavity, massages the heart and lungs, enhances the blood-oxygen exchanging capacity, and thus improves the cardiorespiratory functions through the bird-stretching and bird-flying movements. In the “Si” of Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue, the vocalization of “Si” will expel the turbid Qi of the lungs and link up the congenital Qi and postnatal Qi, and thus enhance the ability of lungs to get rid of the stale and take in the fresh. The “Posing as an Archer Shooting Both Left-and Right-Handed” of Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin can regulate and stimulate the lung channel, increase the lung capacity, and promote the circulation of blood and Qi over the body.

Fear (terror) is the embodiment of apprehensive and fright. Excessive terror will impair the kidneys and cause chaotic Qi in the viscera. Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Su Wen: Ju Tong Lun says: “Terror collapses Qi……Terror disorders Qi”. By practicing Health Qigong, we can improve the essence-storing and water-controlling functions of the kidneys. For example, in “Three Plates Falling on the Floor” of Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing, the vocalization of “Hi” during the crouching movement will cause the genuine Qi to ascend and descend correspondingly between the chest and abdomen and thus achieve harmony between the heart and kidneys. The “Dear Exercise” of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi strengthens the waist and kidneys through the left-twisting & side-bending and right-twisting & side-bending movements of the waist which stretch the vertebral column and muscles in the waist and back. It is believed in traditional Chinese medicine that: “Waist is the container of kidneys”. In the “Chui” of Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue, the vocalization of “Chui” during the knee-bending and crouching movement will expel the turbid Qi of the kidneys and regulate the viscera. “Moving the Hands down the Back and Legs, and Touching the Feet to Strengthen the Kidneys” of Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin strengthens the kidneys and waist through limb movements.

To sum up, all “seven emotions” have important connections with the internal organs of the human body. The “seven emotions” are normal emotional signs of man and do not induce diseases under normal circumstances. And they actually play an important role in maintaining the normal physiological functions of the human body. But over-excitation which exceeds the normal range of regulation of the human body will result in diseases. Exercises of Health Qigong are mainly featured by: Body regulation, breath regulation, and mind regulation. Body regulation is the basis for breath regulation and mind regulation, while mind regulation is the core of the “Three Regulations”. It provides good regulating effects on all the viscera. Therefore the “Three Regulations” have very good influencing, regulating, and controlling effects on the mental state and temperament of man. And the emotional changes of the “seven emotions” will in turn influence the results of Health Qigong exercise. Therefore it is of great importance and value to learn the “seven emotions” and maintain a normal state of the “seven emotions” during the practice of Health Qigong. By doing so we can gradually replenish the “three treasures” of body (essence, Qi, and spirit) to achieve sufficient essence, abundant Qi, and complete spirit and thus truly understand the essentials of health preservation, disease prevention, and body-building.

Reference: The Seven Emotions and Health Qigong

Inverted-Sequence Exercises in Qigong

Hu Xiaofei; Beijing Sport University

What are Inverted-Sequence Exercises

Inverted-sequence exercises refer to exercises like handstand, crawling, backward walking, and barefoot walking. These exercises provide body-strengthening, health-improving, and disease-removing effects for which they are deeply welcomed by people. Inverted-sequence exercises were carried out in our country as early as the ancient times. Various forms of inverted-sequence exercises were included in “Wu Qin Xi” composed by Hua Tuo in the Han Dynasty and recorded in Daoyin Illustrative Plates unearthed from Mawangdui and General Treatise on the Cause and Symptoms of Diseases written by Chao Yuanfang in the Sui Dynasty. These exercises not only provided guarantee for the health and longevity of our ancestors with their body-strengthening and health-improving efficacy, but also played an important role in the life, multiplication, and evolution of the Chinese Nation with their unique biological efficacy. And inverted-sequence exercises are easy to practice and deserve to be popularized.

Inverted-Sequence Exercises in Health Qigong

Health Qigong exercises are based on theories of bionics. And man is the most fully-evolved and advanced creature in the biological world having many habits and body postures that are quite contrary to those of animals. This result in many inverted-sequence exercises in Health Qigong, such as “Nine Ghosts Drawing Saber”, “Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails”, “Crouching Tiger Springs on Prey”, in “Swinging the Tail” in Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing, “Tiger Exercise”, “Deer Exercise”, “Bear Exercise”, “Ape Exercise”, and “Bird Exercise” in Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi, “Hiding the Head and Shrinking the Neck” in Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue, and “Swinging the Head and Lowering the Body to Relieve Stress” and “Both Hands Touching the Feet to Strengthen the Kidneys and Waist” in Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin. All of them will provide good effects on the exercisers of Health Qigong during their practice.

Functions and Principles of Inverted-Sequence Exercises

(I) Balancing nervous systems and removing fatigue

Most of the daily activities of people are done with a straight body or adductive, head-lowering, or forward exercises. Therefore the nervous systems controlling such muscle exercises will be constantly in a highly excited state on a long-term basis. On the other hand, the nervous systems controlling the body-bending, abducing, head-lifting, and backward muscle exercises will be in a low-excitation state. The long-term excitation imbalance among the nervous systems will inevitably cause tiredness in local muscles and nerve centers and thus result in sub-health and even diseases. Researches have shown that “inverted-sequence exercises can comprehensively regulate the nervous systems of the body and establish a new balance”. Therefore the crawling movement of “Crouching Tiger Springs on Prey”, the body-unfolding movement of “Tiger Pouncing”, the backward-leaning and abducing exercises of “Nine Ghosts Drawing Saber” and “Bird Stretching”, the backward movement of “Ape Picking”, the head-hiding and neck-shrinking exercises of “Si Zi Jue”, and the looking-back movement of “Looking Backwards to Prevent Sickness and Strain” in Health Qigong can effectively stimulate those muscles that seldom move, exercise the nervous systems more comprehensively than normal exercises, and thus help the exerciser eliminate nervous fatigue and establish a new balance.

(II) Dredging the Twelve Channels and protecting the health of viscera

According to the Channel Theory, the fingers are the start and end points of the three Yin and three Yang hand channels, and toes are the start and end points of the three Yin and three Yang foot channels. For example, the Lung Channel ends at Shaoshang and the Large Intestine Channel starts at Shangyang. They serve as connecting links in blood and Qi circulation and most origin acupoints of the Twelve Channels are distributed around the wrists and ankles. According to the theory of the traditional Chinese medicine, “diseases in the Five Viscera shall be treated at their twelve origins” and “pains are caused by obstruction”. Stimulating these points can effectively dredge the three Yin and three Yang hand channels and improve the functions of the viscera. In the “Crouching Tiger Springs on Prey” exercise of Health Qigong, it is required to exert the fingers, wrists, toes, and ankles in order to effectively stimulate the start and end points of the tree Yin foot channels and three Yang channels and thus dredge the channels and protect the health of the viscera.

(III) Improving systemic circulation and promoting metabolism

The lower limbs of the human body are the major active organs and blood tends to flow into the lower limbs when a man moves with an upright body. In this case, the heart has to work against the pull of the gravity of blood in order to drive the upward circulation of blood and return blood to the heart. This will add to the burden on the heart and cause reduced blood supply for the heart and organs above the heart, exposing the body to the risks of diseases like CHD, AS, varicose veins, arthritis, and haemorrhoids. Exercises such as “Crouching Tiger Springs on Prey”, “Swinging the Tail”, “Tiger Pouncing”, and “Both Hands Touching the Feet to Strengthen the Kidneys and Waist” in Health Qigong effectively lower the heart, promote blood flow into the heart and parts above the heart, and thus improve the blood circulation of the entire body and facilitate the control and prevention of above-mentioned diseases. When one reaches the middle age, the deficiency of blood and Qi and lack of exercise will prevent blood and Qi from reaching the distal joints and thus result in the stasis and obstructed circulation of blood and Qi. And the “Crouching Tiger Springs on Prey” exercise of Health Qigong can effectively enhance the stimulation on the wrists, fingers, ankles, and toes of the exerciser, open more capillaries, improve the microcirculation of the human body, and reduce the blood pressure. This is of more significance for the old and middle-aged people.

(IV) Strengthening muscles and bones and benefiting the brains

Long-term bad habits will cause injuries to local bones and muscles of the human body. For example, bending over the desk for a long time will strain the neck, shoulder, and back muscles. Together with the invasion by wind-pathogen and cold-pathogen, it will cause muscle injuries and local disorder of facet joints. In addition, long-term upright postures will also cause injuries to the vertebral column and especially the lumbar vertebra. Relevant researches have shown that: when looking at a the profile of the vertebral column of a normal person standing upright, the gravity center of the upper part of the body is located in front of the vertebral spine. The gravity line of the body usually goes through the ventral side of the center of the fourth lumbar vertebra. In other words, all segments of the vertebral spine bear a constant anteflexion moment. Therefore the pressure on the vertebral spine is not only from the weight of the human body itself, but also from the convergent force of the back muscles used to balance the gravity. When the human body is upright, the vertebral body and the intervertebral disks almost bear all the pressure. The pressure on different segments of the vertebral column gradually increases from bottom to top. Therefore people standing upright all the time will easily suffer from diseases in the vertebral column and especially the lumbar vertebra, such as lumbagos and back pains. And the crawling movement of “Crouching Tiger Springs on Prey”, the body-unfolding movement of “Tiger Pouncing”, and the backward-leaning and abducing exercises of “Nine Ghosts Drawing Saber” and “Bird Stretching” in Health Qigong will not only effectively help the exerciser relieve the tension on the above-mentioned parts of the body and improve the local circulation of blood, but also disperse the gravity of the body to the four limbs to greatly reduce the load on the spine and lumbar vertebra. And they are very good exercises for the waist and back muscles and especially beneficial for old and middle-aged people suffering from diseases in the waist, back, and vertebral column. They can also stimulate “Dadun” of the liver channel (liver governs the tendons) and “Yongquan” of the kidney channel (kidneys govern the bones) to drain the liver fire, enhance kidney Qi, improve the hepatic and renal functions, and thus slow down the aging process, strengthen the bones and tendons, boost the spirit and energy, and benefit the brains.

(V) Promoting the peristalsis of the stomach and intestines and preventing constipation and piles

The upright posture of the body will impose pressure on the stomach and intestines, cause difficulty in their peristalsis, and due to their low positions, add to the difficulty of venous reflux. This will easily lead to constipation, rectocele, piles, and endless accompanying trouble. By lowering the body position and inverting the sequence of exercises, “Tiger Pouncing”, “Swinging the Tail”, “Both Hands Touching the Feet to Strengthen the Kidneys and Waist”, “Crouching Tiger Springs on Prey”, and “Bear Carrying” in Health Qigong can effectively stimulate the stomach, intestines, and anal sphincter, promote the blood circulation, improve venous reflux, and thus prevent the above-mentioned symptoms.

(VI) Eliminating weak links and preventing accidental injuries

Unbalanced forces on muscles will cause local injuries to the muscles. For example, taking a sneeze may cause a sudden sprain the lumbar region, stepping on a stone may spray the ankle, and looking back may injure the neck. To prevent these injuries, we have to strengthen the local muscles. The “Nine Ghosts Drawing Saber”, “Plucking a Star and Exchanging a Star Cluster”, “Crouching Tiger Springs on Prey”, “Deer Wrestling”, “Hiding the Head and Shrinking the Neck”, and “Looking Backwards to Prevent Sickness and Strain” exercises in Health Qigong can effectively strengthen the local muscles, eliminate the weak links, and thus prevent injuries.

Matters to be Noted about Inverted-Sequence Exercises

(I) Carefully choose exercises

There are a lot of inverted-sequence exercises in Health Qigong, and different people have different conditions. Therefore it is not advisable to practice aimlessly. The best way is to choose inverted-sequence exercises under the guidance of specialists and according to the specific conditions of the exerciser in order to suit the exercises to the symptoms. Inverted-sequence exercises are against people’s habitual movements. Therefore physically weak and disease-susceptible exercisers shall use caution while choosing such exercises. For example, physically weak and powerless people shall use caution while choosing “Crouching Tiger Springs on Prey”, patients with severe high blood pressure shall use caution while choosing “Swinging the Tail” or “Deer Wrestling”, patients with severe cervical spondylosis shall use caution while choosing “Nine Ghosts Drawing Saber” or “Looking Backwards to Prevent Sickness and Strain”, and patients with severe lumbar disc herniation shall use caution while choosing “Swinging the Tail”, “Tiger Pouncing”, or “Moving the Hands down the Back and Legs, and Touching the Feet to Strengthen the Kidneys”.

(II) Make full preparations

Since inverted-sequence exercises usually mobilize the nerves, joints, muscles, and tendons that we seldom use under normal circumstances, we need to take proper warm-up activities to excite the nerves, warm up the muscles, reduce the viscosity of muscles, activate the tendons, and lubricate the joints in order to improve the practicing results and avoid injuries.

(III) Make progress step by step

Inverted-sequence exercises have high requirements on the difficulty of movements, intensity of practice, and amount of exercise with regard to the practicing methods, nervous systems, and organs. Therefore inverted-sequence exercises shall be practiced in a step-by-step and gradually way. This means to: 1. Progress from easier methods of movements to the more complicated ones.. 2. Progress from lower difficulty levels of movements to the higher ones. 3. Progress from lower intensity of practice to higher intensity. 4. Progress from smaller amounts of exercise to larger ones. It is only in this way that we can gradually master the techniques, improve our skills, improve the balances between nerves and the motor system, and thus protect the body and improve health.

(IV) Perseverance

Peoples living habits are not formed within a day or two. And specialization of work is also something we need to carry through on a long-term basis. Therefore, many problems such as mental fatigue and weak muscles cannot be easily alleviated or solved and gradual transition will be required. That is why we need to achieve our goals through repeated practice. Specifically, we should practice 2 to 3 times per week and use 4~8 repetitions for each movement or body part.

(V) Reasonable sort-out

The inverted-sequence exercise involves a certain intensity and workload. Failure to take any sort-out or relaxation after the exercise will reduce the practicing effects and may even cause new fatigue and injures. Therefore, it is necessary to sort out and relax all parts of the body by patting, massaging, shaking, stretching, and swaying. Physical methods of relaxation such as hot water bath after the exercise are even better.

Reference: Inverted-Sequence Exercises in Health Qigong

On Basic Essentials of Health Qigong

Wei Yongzhong; Tangshan College

The second basic essential of Health Qigong is to enter serenity. Compared with the first essential “relaxation”, serenity is mainly focused on the regulation of mental activities. Entering serenity mainly means reducing and stopping the conscious activities of the brain or, in Qigong terms, attenuating and eradicating the postnatal conscious spirit (also known as “external mind” or “external spirit”).

Consciousness is acquired during social activities. It is specific to the human kind and influences and determines other natural instincts of man. Therefore it is an essential quality of man. Whenever we are awake, the brain always thinks one thing or another. On many occasions it will keep thinking even if you don’t want it to. And the thinking is completely irregular. This can be seen from both the ECG and EEG. When one gets excited, the mind will be difficult to calm. When one gets troubled, many thoughts will possess the mind. Therefore it is really difficult to enter serenity, which seems to be against the instinct of man. But the real problem is even worst. The so-called conscious spirit includes the thinking spirit and the lust spirit. In other words, we should not only eradicate conscious activities, but also eradicate emotional experience during Qigong exercise. The former belongs to IQ and the latter belongs to EQ. They are owned by all normal people and should be cultivated since childhood. Animals also have emotions and feelings. Isn’t it against the nature to eradicate them? Why do we have to enter serenity above all?

The direct purpose of serenity is to mobilize and enhance our self-regulating functions or, in Qigong terms, excite and activate the congenital primordial spirit (also known as “internal mind” or “internal spirit”). The primordial spirit exactly controls and regulates itself. This function is inherent with everybody and should not have to be excited. But it has been inhibited and even degenerated by the strong postnatal consciousness and excessive lust spirit of man. Therefore it has to be mobilized and excited. We will not be able to preserve health unless we manage to do so. And we will not have Qigong if we fail to do so. How to mobilize it? It is excited just the way it has been inhibited. As it has been inhibited by the mutual growth and reduction, it should be activated through mutual growth and reduction. In the basic Chinese terms, it is called mutual growth and reduction between Yin and Yang. Among the various types of spirit in the human body, the conscious spirit belongs to Yang and the primordial spirit belongs to Yin. To boost Yin or to excite and activate the congenital primordial spirit, we need to reduce Yang or, in other words, attenuate and eradicate the postnatal conscious spirit.

It seems difficult to eradiate the conscious spirit. Therefore some people completely give up the idea of entering serenity. They think: “It will be OK if I don’t think about anything!” As a matter of fact “thinking about nothing” is just the hardest part, and thus the highest degree of serenity. All Qigong exercises involve serenity. Any exercise without serenity does not belong to Qigong. This is an inevitable step. Relaxation and serenity are like two thresholds to the hall of Qigong. The first threshold is low and we can easily cross it. The second threshold is high and easily daunts us. But it is the most important and critical basis essential. Why is serenity the most critical essential? We have to analyze the reason from the perspectives of both health preservation and Qigong.

First let’s take a look at health preservation. Health preservation is a modern term. In ancient times it was referred to as “physical cultivation”. Qigong is called “life cultivation”. In the introductory chapter of “Xiu Qi Zhi Ping” in The Great Learning, the first of the Four Great Books, it says: “Self-cultivation is the foundation for all people from the emperors to the common people.” But it also stresses: Self-cultivation should be carried out on the basis of a righteous mind.” This is because “the heart is the master of the body.” (annotated by Zhu Xi). This is no longer Confucian but involves medicine. Nei Jing explicitly says: “the heart is a monarch organ.” A monarch gives orders. The heart does not give orders; the brain and the central nerves do. How come the heart becomes the monarch? This is because “the heart is the container of spirit” and “the origin of spirit”. The spirit in the brain is originally stored and originated from the heart. This is why we call it primordial spirit. Let’s make a metaphor. Although the spirit works in the brain, the heart is its home. And this home cannot be changed. Therefore spirit is the master but when it comes to organs, the heart is always the monarch which governs the entire body. Being in charge of the entire body, can it have a rest? No. Even if it takes a nap, “all internal organs will be endangered”. Therefore the heart does not have a rest for even one second. The cerebrum, cerebellum, and all other organs have rests and at least work shifts. Now that the heart is the master of the whole body, we should never ignore the health of the heart and erase it from the list of our health-preservation items. Otherwise, health preservation will be just a joke. We have always wanted to realize “Fitness of the nation” and the United Nations have also proposed “Health for all” and made new annotations of “Health”. But health is far from being realized. When will it be realized? How? As far as I am concerned, mental regulation is the key to health preservation and health. Some Health Qigong specialist have long pointed out that: The life of a man is a contradictor yet unified entity dominated by the mind. The key words here are “dominated by the mind”. This means the main aspect of the mind-body contradiction is the mind rather than the body. And it also annotates the “simultaneous cultivation of both Xing and Ming” which has been pursued by Chinese Qigong exercisers since the ancient times: Cultivation of Xing and mind is dominant and cultivation of Ming and body is auxiliary.

The same conclusion will be reached when it comes to the treatment of disease. But we have to begin with the dialectics of traditional Chinese medicine. According to traditional Chinese medicine, diseases are caused by “seven emotions from the inside and six evils from the outside.” The endogenous factors are in the first place and the exogenous factors are in the second place. This is because endogenous factors are the basis and the exogenous factors are the conditions. The exogenous factors do not take effect unless through endogenous factors. Western medicine does not explain pathogenic factors this way. It only involves germs and viruses. However, traditional Chinese medicine never mentions these. It focuses on wind, cold, summer heat, damp, dryness, and fire, the “Six Forms of Heaven Qi” and “Six Forms of Earth Qi”. They fill up the entire universe and do not carry benign or malignant properties. They do not harm people unless they are surplus. Surplus leads to excess, excess leads to pathogens, pathogens lead to toxicity, and this is how harm is eventually done. However, if we do not have excessive emotions, we will never be affected by the six excesses. If we preserve health according to the four seasons, we will never get sick. This is why Taoists believe “life is controlled by oneself instead of God”. And as a matter of fact, there were many Taoists and doctors who did manage to master their own lives and lived long lives until their painless deaths. How did they manage to do so? They did not rely on sterilization. On the contrary, they knew that many germs were good even if they were toxic, as toxic things could be utilized to counteract toxin. Therefore they did not try to kill them but did whatever they could to find and utilize them. As a matter of fact, such things have always been with us or inside us since the very beginning of our history. They could never be eliminated. If we do want to kill them, they will get stronger and stronger and more and more diverse until they completely go out of control. And us human beings will be victims when that day comes. Taoists and doctors of China would never get the worst of it, neither would the Confucians, Buddhists, or the I-Ching practicers. The key to their longevity was: avoiding being impaired by the seven emotions. Emotions originate from the heart. The seven emotions are activities of the mind.

This is also true when it comes to happiness. Happiness does not lie in excellent material conditions but lie in the delightful feeling of the mind. Therefore, a person always in a good mood is far happier than another person having delicious food and drink everyday. As the saying goes “laugh and grow fat”, we will never feel at east or happy if we do not have an open mind.

From this we can see that the mind is always the dominating one in the physical-mental entity under any circumstances. Therefore we need to cultivate our mind if we are to preserve health. This is the key that we have to grasp. Then why do we have to enter serenity before mind cultivation? To answer this question, we need to start with some detailed information of Qigong.

Qigong is the manipulation of Qi. Once the body is relaxed, Qi will start to circulate. This is easy to understand. But how do we master, control, rein, and apply Qi once it starts to circulate? This is a complicated but most critical issue. Fortunately, many health-preserving schools of ancient China, such as Qigong, Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, I-Ching, medicine, and Wushu, have provided us with clever methods to rein and control Qi. There have been countless grand masters that had profound knowledge about the mechanisms of Qi. Even if we ignore the time before the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, there were Guan Zhong, Lao Tzu, Kuei Ku-tzu, Confucius, Yen Hui, Bian Que, Wang Qiao, Qu Yuan, Liezi, Chuang Tzu, Mencius, Hsun Tzu, Dong Zhongshu, Wang Chong, Wei Boyang, Zhang Zhongjing, and Hua Tuo between the Spring and Autumn Period and the Qin and Han Dynasties. After the Wei and Jin Dynasties, there were fewer grand masters but numerous famous masters. And we had many hermits who concealed their identities or left their works but not their names. And countless ancient people knew how to control Qi. Below are just some examples:

The Guan Zhong, the great politician of the 7th century BC wrote in Nei Ye Pian that: “Qi cannot be spoken, seen, or heard.” This indicates how difficult it is to control Qi. “Therefore this Qi cannot be stopped with force but can be calmed with virtue. It cannot be vocalized with the mouth but can be expressed by the mind.” “When the mind is serene, Qi will come into order and stay inside you”. “By cultivating our mind and tranquilize our thought, we will be able to achieve Tao.” This indicates that Qi can be controlled. But how do we control it? With “serene mind” and “cultivated mind and serene thought”. What Guan Zhong meant was that: Qi cannot be spoken, seen or heard. Therefore this Qi cannot be stopped with force but can be calmed with virtue. It cannot be vocalized with the mouth but can be expressed by the mind. But we can calm it with virtue and cater to it with thought. When the mind is serene, Qi will come into order and stay inside you. And when you cultivate your mind and enter serenity, you will achieve Tao and Qi and be able to control Qi.

Mencius is as good as Guan Zhong with it comes to the Qi-driving skills. Although he too though it was “difficult to explain” what was “the Great Qi”, when asked by his disciples he still dared to say: “I am good at nourishing the Great Qi.” The Great Qi is “extremely tremendous and firm” and “fills the entire universe”, while Mencius were able to “nourish it without being harmed” and convert it into “filling material of the body”. How did he manage to do so? Mencius says: “Aspiration is the master of Qi” and “focused aspiration will help control Qi and focused Qi will help control aspiration”. Aspiration is will. Nei Jing: Ling Shu: Ben Shen says: “persistent intention is called aspiration.” Put in a modern way, aspiration is very similar to intention. In other words, Mencius use focused intention to control Qi, driving the endogenous factors with exogenous factors and converting external Qi into internal Qi. It should be noted that according to Mencius, Qi and aspiration are interactive. (See Mencius: Gong Sunchou I)

According to Chuang Tzu: Ren Jian Shi, Confucius also used focused intention to drive Qi. One day Yen Hui asked him what was “pre-occupation”, he said: “Maintain a perfect unity in every movement of your will, You will not wait for the hearing of your ears about it, but for the hearing of your mind. Let the hearing (of the ears) rest with the ears. Let the mind rest in the verification (of the rightness of what is in the will). But the spirit is free from all pre-occupation and so waits for (the appearance of) things. Where the (proper) course is, there is freedom from all pre-occupation.” From this we can see the keys to pre-occupation and serenity. And we can also see that the Qi-driving techniques of Confucius described by Chuang Tzu were more than a health-preserving method or a Qigong exercise used to cultivate the mind and build up the body. They are a great way to master everything, properly treat everything, adapt ourselves to everything, and contain everything. And they are also the life philosophy of both Taoist and Confucianism. This was exactly why Chuang Tzu named this Chapter as Ren Jian Shi. How did they realize the great leap from a health-preserving method to great Qigong? They grasped the common things between Qi and mind, the coupling joints between Qi and mind, and coordination between Qi and mind. According to Mencius, Qi and aspiration are interactive and coordinated. None of Guan Zhong, Mencius, Chuang Tzu, and Confucius was a scientist and none of them knew any physics or systematic sciences. But they all knew coordination-the great coordination between Qi and mind and between nature and man. Only these great thinkers could manage to do that.

All roads lead to Roma. The Qi-driving techniques and methods of the great thinkers came from various origins but were based on the same mechanism. This can be summarized with four words: “Driving Qi with spirit”. This sentence was frequently seen in many Qigong classics such as Zhou Yi Can Tong Qie and Xing Ming Gui Zhi. The spirit referred is only the primordial spirit that lives in the monarch organ. And to sum up the Qi-driving mechanisms of all Qigong schools, we can describe them with a single sentence in Nei Jing: “A tranquilized mind will cause vital Qi to flow normally in the body.” According to my understanding, quiescence, peace, vacancy, and inaction are four levels of serenity in ascending order. In other words, we should first achieve quiescence, and then move from quiescence into peace, from peace into vacancy, and finally vacancy into inaction. Inaction is the ultimate level that we need to climb up to. Buddhists call it “void”, Taoists call it “inaction”, and common people call it “having nothing on mind”. This is the highest level of serenity. And all the way to serenity, Qi will follow you. The word “follow” means Qi only follows you when you try to enter serenity. And it will not follow you and listen to your orders if you do not enter serenity.

From this we can clearly see the critical role of serenity in the entire system of Qigong. “Driving Qi with spirit” and “Vital Qi in the body flowing normally” are both based on serenity. Therefore once you circumvent this threshold, you will never enter the hall of Qigong.

As a matter of fact, it is not difficult to enter serenity. Since it is easy to learn the rudiments of Qigong, it is totally possible to go further. Readers may still remember the rudiment keys to Qigong that I presented last time. Now we may name them as “Trilogy of Relaxation”: 1. Calm the mental state; 2. Coordinate respiration; 3. Command the intention. The first and the last steps are all about serenity. It has also been mentioned earlier that the neck is the key and has to be relaxed in particular during the practice. Why? Once the neck is relaxed, an expressway from the brain to the heart and from the heart to the brain will immediately come into being. And the spirit will be able to go home from time to time with ease. Once it’s home, the conscious spirit is returned to its original position and serenity will be achieved. In addition, relaxation of the neck will drive the relaxation of the brain. And once the cerebral cortex is relaxed, serene you will immediately be. This is because once the cerebral cortex is relaxed, Qi will start to circulate there and driving power will come in to convert essence into Qi and Qi into spirit. And spirit will be able to get home in no time. In other words, serenity is a natural process which takes place with the relaxation of critical parts of the body.

However, serenity of Qigong is an attenuation of the conscious spirit. It has to face complicated factors such as the brain, spirit, thought, and emotions. Therefore it is easy to achieve rudimentary serenity, difficult to achieve in-depth serenity, extremely difficult to achieve ultimate serenity, and desperately difficult to maintain the ultimate serenity. It is most difficult to maintain and experience the ultimate serenity everyday.

Now that serenity is a prerequisite of Qigong, how can we enter it better? What are the methods to enter serenity? Generally speaking, there is no definite method. But we can learn from the experience of predecessors in Qigong and may make our own innovations. Next I will offer five methods.

I. Internal and external consignment. This means to consign all your thoughts to a certain place inside or outside the body. Inside the body, it may be the tip of your nose, the area between eyebrows, the arch of your foot, Dantian, a Zang or Fu viscus, the Ren or Du Channel, or the focus of a disease. Outside the body, it may be the sun, the moon, a mountain, a river, a flower, a grass, a sweet moment, or a beautiful scene. Internal consignment is also called “internal concentration”, “inward vision”, “internal scene”, “aperture adherence”, and “pivot adherence”. External consignment is also called “external concentration”, “external scene”, and “mental consignment”. Both of them are called “mind concentration”, “consignment of thoughts”, “consignment of mind”, and “meditation”. Nei Jing says: “When mind is concentrated inward, how can disease take place?” This is just an example of the health-preserving and disease-preventing effects of internal consignment and internal concentration. External consignment and external concentration are also a good and indispensable method to capture, collect, and input benign information. However, as the methods to achieve serenity, both internal consignment and external consignment are elementary approaches to temporary replacement of multiple thoughts with one single thought. And such methods are optional and differ from person to person. However, any method will contribute to your accumulation as long as you use it to enter serenity. Even the elementary exercises may lead to perfection after being practiced again and again. They may also be universal and good for the cultivation of both the mind and the body.

It should be noted by readers, and especially foreign readers that: The intention of oriental Qigong does not equal thinking or consciousness, even if they all belong to the spiritual world. All Qigong intentions are peaceful and between adherence and non-adherence. They seem to exist and yet not to exist. And they are half-hidden and always kept at arm’s length. As Mencius put it, “neither forget it nor support it”. As Lao Tzu put it, “keep between concentration and absent-mindedness”. The so-called mind concentration means concentrating the mind to a certain place instead of having distracting thoughts on the mind. Otherwise you will not be entering serenity, practicing, or cultivating spirit. On the contrary you will consume life and spirit. Some hold that: mind concentration also includes rich imagination which enhances attention and imagination. This is wrong. Mind concentration should never involve imagination, let alone rich imagination. The “richer” you get, the far away you will deviate from Qigong. In one word, the boundary between thought and consciousness must be clearly defined. Although the mind concentration is described as a method to enter serenity, it is actually directly used to control Qi. All techniques of Qigong are Qi-driving techniques. And it is the thought rather than the consciousness that drives Qi. The primordial spirit rather than the mind drives Qi and the heart rather than the brain drives Qi.

II. Coordination of mental activities and breathing. This is also called mental and respiratory interdependence. In other words the mental activities are dependent on respiration and coincide with the breathing process. This is advocated by almost all schools of Qigong. Liu Zi Jue and the Buddhist “Liu Miao Fa Men” are both based on coordination of mental activities and breathing. The practicing process is divided into six stages and six levels: Counting breaths, following breaths, stopping breaths, observing breaths, returning breaths, and clearing breaths. Counting breaths means counting silently how many times you breathe. By replacing all other thoughts with this one thought, you will be able to reach serenity. Following breaths means no longer counting breaths but having the mind follow the exhalation and inhalation to ascend & descend, open & close, or enter & exit. Stopping breaths means stopping the thought at a certain position where the breaths pass by and keeping it from leaking. It may be stopped at the tip of the nose, between eyebrows, in the bottom of the heart, or in the lower abdomen. Observing breaths means meditation and inward vision of your own respiration. For example, you can observe exhalation when turbid Qi is exhaled from the body and observe inhalation when genuine Qi is inhaled into the body. Returning breaths means returning to the source of breaths. The source of breaths is the congenital Qi of the universe. Clearing breaths means clearing all breaths and thoughts. This is the ultimate result of Liu Miao Fa Men. In addition, Chuang Tzu says: “immortals breathe to the ankles while common people breathe to the throat.” Then is “inhaling to the top and exhaling to the bottom” no more than the mental-respirator interdependence of these “immortals”?

III. Kung fu comes from outside the exercise. The great Qigong master and poet Lu You enlightened his sun by: “Kung fu comes from outside poets.” This is of profound meaning. The serenity Kung fu of Qigong comes from outside Qigong. The key to the practice of Qigong is mind cultivation. Serenity only calms the mind. Therefore a man with a dirty mind will be stuck in obstacles during the practice of serenity. And people with bad moral characters or selfish thoughts will find it difficult to enter serenity. And if we become capricious during practice, we should know how to restrain and lock the distracting thoughts.

Looking back into the history, we will find that the best practicers of Qigong were philosophers, great writers, medical masters, thinkers, and politicians. “Ge Wu” has existed in China since the ancient times. This is science. The Great Learning says: To cultivate the body, we must clear our mind. To clear our mind, we must be sincere. To be sincere, we must get informed. To get informed, we must learn science. In other words, the entire “Xiu Qi Zhi Ping” is based on science. Philosophy is the highest level of thinking but it is by no means unfounded thinking. Thinking comes only from learning. The philosophy of Lao Tzu was exactly obtained by “learning Tao”. Body cultivation, mind clarification, and sincerity are all within the framework of Qigong but learning and science are outside Qigong.

How to make efforts outside Qigong? We can start with the following three aspects. The first is mental cultivation, the second is moral cultivation, and the third is daily cultivation. Mental cultivation includes philosophy cultivation and science cultivation. All these three levels of efforts are based on both learning and mental exercise. Therefore both the inside Kung fu and outside Kung fu belong to one Kung fu. And philosophers are often Qigong masters too. Daily cultivation is called “mental refinement through things”. Exercise is different from refinement. Exercise is like bleaching a silk cloth with water, while refinement is like smelting metal with fire. I’m afraid that the human mind has to be both bleached and smelted. Cultivation means learning. Learn proficiency for officialdom. Chinese Qigong was called refinement in ancient times but now considered an exercise. But if we only exercise the body and fail to refine the heart, it will be like strengthening only the body and ignoring the spirit. And the tradition of cultivation and refinement is not an ordinary culture or spirit. It is a symbol of the civilization and spirit of the Chinese nation. Refinement is very difficult, we need to be serene, clear, precise, and humble and persevere on a long term basis, so that we could be pure, noble, generous, and good for others.

IV. “Achieving the ultimate vacancy and adhering to the true serenity”. In the strict sense, this is more a goal than an approach. It is the ultimate serenity that can be hardly achieved by normal people. Adhering to the true serenity is more difficult than achieving the ultimate vacancy. The ultimate serenity of Chuang Tzu is “utterly dead mind”. But this mind has to be revived for if it does not, serenity will be absolute. And as we know, serenity is always relative. Just as there is no absolute quiescence in the material world, there is not absolute serenity in the spiritual world. But Chuang Tzu did not say how long we should adhere to it before its revival. The longer we adhere to it, the closer we get to the “immortal” state of health preservation. And this is surely difficult to achieve. “I’m number one in the universe”. This is true. He might be the first one in the world’s history to interpret the dialectics. Was Chuang Tzu the second one in the universe? As a top philosopher under the sun, he also made it to the ultimate serenity. This is a secret in which methods are hidden.

V. Assume a humble attitude. As far as I’m concerned, these four words are both keys to the elementary hall of Qigong and the keys to the serenity of Qigong. And they are a clever way of cultivating the mind and body, preserving health, prolonging life, and staying happy and delighted. Why do we have to be humble? This is because “Human hearts are evil”. This maxim was said to have been spoken by Shun when he handed over his crown to Yu in the ancient times. Evil is height. And height is evil. Our great ancestors knew the human heart profoundly. Human hearts are even higher today. Many children are customized as scientists when they just enter the kindergartens. Their parents wish they could sign a contract. Some country kids were forced to answer to the question “who will you make money for when you grow up” when they don’t even know how to speak. They parents wish they could make money right now. Why are human hearts so high? This is because the heart belongs to fire and fire easily leads to inflammation. However, Shun also said to Yu that contrary to the human heart, “the Taoist heart is humble”. The Taoist heart is also surrounded by shadows and contains pure essence. Taoists also pointed out that we should be as noble as water, which facilitates everything but does not snatch anything. Here is the solution. Water restraints fire. However, we cannot live without fire. We cannot keep the kidney and heart in balance unless we have both water and fire. It is just that we have to keep the water on the top and fire on the bottom in order to cook rice thoroughly. This is also the case with us human beings. We will not be “mature” unless we lower the fire-natured heart. If one can remain as mentally serene as water, he will definitely be able to find Kung fu in the finest places and get closer and closer to the Taoist heart. Taoists heart is not only humble, but also very, very low. It always stay when it belongs. Besides the Taoist heart, the Confucian heart is also low. It’s just that Confucianism did not come into the world in the times of Shun and Shun could not speak it. Mencius believes that we should just lower our hearts. Lowering our hearts means lowering our attitude.

To sum up, the key to the serenity of Qigong is to overlook the bottom of the heart from a philosophic perspective. As Taoists put it, we start with action, return with inaction, and thus achieve “No willful action and nothing without willful action”.

Reference: On Basic Essentials of Health Qigong

Adherence to Quiescence

Li Jinlong and Jia Meiying; Shanxi University

Health Qigong is a traditional sport of our nation with body movements, respiration regulation, and mental regulation as the major forms of exercise. It has carried the essences of the excellent traditional health-preserving culture of the Chinese Nation for thousands of years. The practice of Health Qigong is focused on the “strengthening of mind”, and the key to the strengthening of mind is “adherence to quiescence”. The mind guides the body and the body is used by the mind. The well-combined mind and body and a healthful and harmonious life are the goals of Health Qigong exercises. Just as Lao Tzu says: “All the flourishing things will return to their source. This return is peaceful. It is the flow of nature.”

Main Idea of “Adherence to Quiescence”

With regard to the idea of adherence to quiescence, quiescence is relative to motion. In the broad sense, they represent two opposite states in the physical phenomena of the nature. In the narrow sense, they refer to the stationary and dynamic, resting and moving states of man. Seeking “quiescence” and adhering to “quiescence” are the inevitable way and basic method to preserve health. Reflected in the practice of Health Qigong, they mean to seek balances between the mental state, movements, and respiration. Secondly, from the perspective health preservation (body building): The sources of all life functions grow in “quiescence”, just as any animal or plant in the nature draws the energy of life from “quiescence” for its growth. This is especially true with the human life. It is only through the never-ending circulation of quiescence and motion that we can obtain vitality that with each passing day. This is basically equivalent to the ideas of “Dhyana” and “Meditation” in Buddhism. In reality, however, people usually feel confused about being unable to feel “quiescence”. Therefore they make every endeavor to seek a method to “adhere to quiescence”. As a matter of fact, Man Huaijin said: “Quiescence is quiescence. We just need to seek it with our heart. If we deliberately use any method to seek it, won’t it cause more disturbances?” If that is true, it will seem impossible for us to seek quiescence. In fact, however, people are just getting too used to the moving state. They keep moving both physically and mentally all the time. Therefore they have different feelings. For this sake, the best way is to pay no special attention to quiescence. For example, we don’t see the dirt in a cup of water when it is turbid. But if we add some clarifying agent to it and rest it there for several days, we will be able to find the sediment in the cup. This is not because this cup of water generates dirt in the stationary state, but because it already has dirt which cannot be found until it is rested. Therefore when we are trying to “adhere to quiescence”, we don’t do it on purpose. It is important to do it with a normal and calm state of mind. Everything is subject to the rules of nature. Where water flows, a channel is formed, and we will be able to experience the mystery of “quiescence”.

Embodiment of “Adherence to Quiescence” in the Health-Preserving and Body-Building Essentials of Health Qigong

The thought of Health Qigong can be traced back to Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine and the legend of Pengzu who lived for 800 years. It originated from the ultimate wish of the human kind-to find a way to immortality, and the greatest quest of the human kind-to learn the principles of life and the origins of Heaven, Earth, and Man. These two factors have also become the initial approaches to seek detachment from reality and sublime the spirit. Ji Kang once proposed and theoretically proved that the meaning of Immortality Art (also an origin of the thought and forms of Qigong) lied in health preservation instead of immortality. In other words “eliminating diseases and prolonging life mean that a man has to learn and practice a great deal of knowledge necessary for health preservation, so that he can live happily without any disease or pain and die smoothly without causing troubles to himself or anybody else. This is the ultimate happiness of life which is most difficult to achieve”. These are the essentials of body building and health preservation. They are just in concert with the awareness of people about “Qigong everywhere”.

Health Qigong is based on harmony and mind regulation. The exerciser needs to seek “Unity of Nature and Man” on the outside and self-content and self-consistency on the inside. Adherence to quiescence, contemplation, introspection, harmony, mental relaxation, and quiescence of mind shall be the major goals of practice so that the exerciser can maintain a good state of mind and perform reasonable metal control and behavior control of himself. How to preserve health? Pengzu says: “control motion with quiescence and close eyes to rest the mind”. In everyday life, we should try the best not to “exhaust the ears or eyes or sit or sleep too long”. On the whole, we should not seek fame and wealth or be fierce, but remain peaceful and calm. In this way our spirit will naturally be at ease and our body will naturally be healthy.

In is expressed in the very introductory chapter of Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine that: “Ancient sages said: To treat deficiency pathogens, we need to avoid wind with good timing. If we stay indifferent to fame or gain and keep a vacant heart, the genuine Qi will follow us, the essence spirit will be contained, and diseases will be prevented. ” They advised people to stay indifferent to fame or gain, keep a vacant heart, and contain the essence and spirit. The essence belongs to the kidneys. It is only when the kidney essence is sufficient that the mind can be calmed. And it is only when the mind is calmed that health can be ensured. The “regulating health according to the four seasons” and “adjusting to the four seasons and climate changes” in traditional health preservation are emphases on the harmony between man and nature. Intrinsic harmony is concretely and commonly sought in health preservation. It is a part of the theoretical basis for Health Qigong and determines the emphasis on “contemplation”, “application of thought”, and “interior practice” features of Health Qigong. The guiding theory of Health Qigong involves “using the mind to practice”, “keeping the essence and spirit in the interior”, “pay independent attention to spirit and integrating the muscles”, “entering the quiescent state”, and “achieving the ultimate vacancy and adhering to the true quiescence” which are all embodiments of the characteristics of this “introversion” culture. Mencius advocated “deliberately cultivating the mind and moral characters to behave ethically”, which is also an embodiment of the introversion spirit. “Feeling the Way with your mind and understanding the unity” in the Taoist Culture and “clarifying the mind to see the disposition”, “depending on yourself instead of depending on others”, and “seeking Buddha dharma from inside instead from outside” in Buddhism all indicate that the practice of Qigong should be more inclined to the quiescence and cultivation of the interior world.

Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine also says: “The heart is the master of all viscera. When the heart moves, all viscera will sway.” The “heart” here refers to the mind. This indicates that all mental activities and emotional changes of man may influence the functions of the interior body. It is therefore said that “overwhelming joy impairs the heart, and terror overwhelms joy; overwhelming anger impairs the liver, and sorrow overwhelms terror; overwhelming thought impairs the spleen, and anger overwhelms thought; overwhelming worry impairs the spleen, and joy overwhelms worry; overwhelming terror impairs the kidney, and thought overwhelms terror”. This also indicates that all kinds of extreme emotions will stimulate the mind, impair the internal organs, affect the activity of Qi, and prevent people from being adherent, quiescent, and happy, causing all kinds of diseases. Therefore, we should eliminate the distracting thoughts and achieve the quiescent and concentrated state of mind as much as possible during the practice of Health Qigong. This is exactly “adherence to quiescence”. Just as Zhuangzi: “I venture to ask what that fasting of the mind is,’ said Hui, and Kung-ni answered, ‘Maintain a perfect unity in every movement of your will, You will not wait for the hearing of your ears about it, but for the hearing of your mind. Let the hearing (of the ears) rest with the ears. Let the mind rest in the verification (of the rightness of what is in the will). But the spirit is free from all pre-occupation and so waits for (the appearance of) things. Where the (proper) course is, there is freedom from all pre-occupation.” This means we need to eliminate the distractions from the sensory organs, listen to the bounces and vibrations of our heartstrings, and quietly experience the softness and harmony of Qi. The “fasting of mind” and “adherence to quiescence” are two approaches to the freedom from pre-occupation and quiescence. When it comes to health preservation, their essences belong to the quiescence-adherence and mind-regulation parts of Qigong. Zuo Wang Ming written by Zheng Xuan of the Ming Dynasty says: “Constantly contain the Primordial Qi to prevent impairments, reduce the distracting thoughts to preserve wisdom; keep away from anger to harmonize the spirit, keep away from vexation to clear the mind; do not fabricate or flatter, do not stick to foolish ways; keep away from greed to enjoy a normal life, and do the right things to be not afraid of law suits.” These words are good food for thought and can be considered as the keys to physical and mental health. And when the mind is adjusted to an ultimate vacant and quiescent state, it will bring spiritual enjoyment that transcends the physical world. Xu Fuguan perfectly summed this up by saying: “The Way mentioned by Zhangzi is a lofty artistic spirit when it comes to life”. From this we can see that the vacancy and quiescence practice of “freedom from pre-occupation” actually presents an artistic life of the spiritual world. Then how to achieve “freedom from pre-occupation” and “Zuo Wang”? Zhuangzi believes that we should first achieve “vacancy”, “quiescence”, and “clearness”, i.e. mind regulation.

In addition, Lao Zi further considers Qigong exercise as an important method to understand “the Way”. He says: “To experience without intention is to sense the world; To experience with intention is to anticipate the world. These two experiences are indistinguishable; Their construction differs but their effect is the same. Beyond the gate of experience flows the Way, which is ever greater and more subtle than the world.” This means that it is only by focusing the mind on Dantian and achieving ultimate quiescence that we can see the ultimate changes of “the Way” and understand the subtle and unpredictable “Way”. Zhu Guangqian says: “When focusing on an object (natural or artistic), man will forget the ego and the outside world and then achieve a unity between them. The life and flavor of life will be ‘radiated’ or transferred to the object so that the object that originally had no life and flavor will have human-like activities and the originally physical things become humanized.” In other words, if we can achieve “freedom from pre-occupation” in the mind regulation of Health Qigong, we will be able to feel aesthetic joy. This is one of the reasons whey it can preserve health. With this “mind regulation” before the practice of Health Qigong, the exerciser will be able to merge into the imaginary state, change the thought with the form, move Qi with the thought, and thus to regulate the viscera, promote the circulation of blood and Qi, and achieve both mental and physical health.

Embodiment and Importance of “Adherence to Quiescence” in the “Thought Regulation” and “Routine Posture” Exercises of Health Qigong

Both the practicing tips and routines of four Health Qigong exercises currently being promoted are based on quiescence, relaxation, gentleness, and true hardness and hardness out of softness. For example, the foremost requirement of Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing is to “relax the spirit and unite form and thought”. It is not allowed to be absent-minded or obsessed. And the first requirement of Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin is to “be relaxed, quiescent, and natural”. “Relaxation, quiescence, and nature” are the fundamental points and basic rules of the exercise. “Relaxation” means both mental and physical relaxation. Mental relaxation mainly means to relieve the physical and mental tension. Physical relaxation mainly means to relax joints, muscles, and viscera until the mind is light, comfortable, and free of nervousness. “Quiescence” means both the mind and emotions shall be smooth and at ease and all distracting thoughts shall be eliminated. Relaxation and quiescence supplement and promote each other. A “natural” state in the practice is the good mental foundation for practice. There are both relaxation and tightness requirements on all kinds of rotating, twisting, stretching, butting, lifting, and crouching movements in the exercise. The transitions between movements have to be smooth and both hardness and softness need to be coupled. For example, the “Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails” in Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing involves step-by-step rotations from the legs to the waist. And “Bowing Down in Salutation” involves step-by-step pulling, bending, and stretching by way of the head, neck, chest, waist, and sacral vertebrae. In “Tiger Posture” of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi, the vertebral spine wriggles from a folded state to an unfolded state. In “Deer Wrestling”, the waist bends sideways and twists by a large margin. Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue lays emphasis on respiration and together with the rotation, stretching, and contraction of the body, relaxes and strengthens the body and mind. All the routine postures require that the exerciser ease the mind, calm the spirit, and put the focus on the transition of movements or respiration or both. All of them require “adherence to quiescence”, just as Zengzi says in The Great Learning: “When you know where to stop, you have stability. When you have stability, you can be tranquil. When you are tranquil, you can be at ease. When you are at ease, you can deliberate. When you can deliberate you can attain your aims.” All these are rules of things that people have learned from nature. It is only through quiescence that we can focus and then attain our goals. If we still have many distracting thoughts in the practice and cannot be quiescent enough to gather our mind and thought, we will never be able to experience the subtleness of the routine postures and their stimulation and effects on the body. And we will not even be able to memorize or recall the most basic routing postures. Without mind, quiescence, and focus, such exercise will be just a waste of time without any achievement. And it will even cause doubts on the efficacy of Health Qigong itself. The subtleness and secrets of things cannot be learned unless we carefully feel them after we remove all distracting thoughts. “Adherence to quiescence” is the most important key to the problem.

The most fundamental characteristic of Health Qigong exercises is the control of thought and the accurate and proper mastery of the rules of “deliberation”. And “quiescence of mind” is the precondition of “deliberation”. It requires the exerciser to do the exercises by practicing Qi, achieve a vacant and quiescent state, master the mind, control Qi circulation with the mind, and transport Qi throughout the body. The thought, spirit, and mental state of man are used as the basis for cultivation. The mental state, the movements of the exercises, and the cultivation of Qi and spirit are unified to coordinate movements, thought, and respiration under the guidance of thought, so that the “internal Qi” in Dantian can be moved and used at will. Both the interior and the exterior are coordinated to achieve a relaxed, quiescent, and natural state of harmony and unity between the form, Qi, and spirit, so that “form and spirit can be unified and body and mind can be harmonized” and that the mental state can be balanced. Here the role of “adherence to quiescence” is even more prominent. If the exerciser cannot achieve quiescence of mind and often gets disturbed by “thoughts” about external things, he will not be able to focus the thought on the practice or smoothly coordinate thought with form. And it will be difficult to achieve any good result of practice. In the worst case, the disturbing thoughts may even cause straying or stagnant Qi. Stasis will lead to obstruction, and obstruction will lead to pains. The exercise will damage health instead of improving it. Therefore removing all distracting thoughts during “deliberation” to “adhere to quiescence” is the most fundamental and important precondition for the practice of Health Qigong.

Reference: About the Basis of Health Qigong-Adherence to Quiescence

Posture Adjustment and Health Preserving in Health Qigong

“Posture Adjustment” is one of the three important elements of Health Qigong exercise. It means that the trainee regulates and controls the basic body shapes and limb movements so that they meet the requirements of the exercise. It is also known as body-shape alignment which is realized through reasonable relative motions between tendons, membranes, bones, and muscles. The earliest record of the term “Health preserving” appeared in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Divine Axis: Benshen: “therefore the health-preserving activities of the wise must be in accordance with the four seasons and climate. Through the regulation of Yin and Yang and adjustment of hardness and softness, these health-preserving activities will prolong life.” Health preserving is also known as regimen. It is a preventive treatment of diseases that strengthens the body constitution, prevent diseases, and prolong life through all kinds of approaches. The earliest record about the relationship between Posture Adjustment and health preserving appeared in Lüshi Chunqiu: Chapter of Ancient Music, which recorded the treatment of diseases “where muscles and bones are shrunk” with “dances” having “draining” effects. The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine also recorded information about Posture Adjustment and health preserving, such as “Obey the law of Yin-Yang and adopt varies methods for health preserving”. From this we can see that Posture Adjustment has been used to achieve health-preserving goals. This is evident in different name of health preserving, such as guided health preserving and athletic health preserving. The Posture Adjustment of Health Qigong is different from simple limb motions. It is focused on “adjustment”. In other words, special body shapes and limb-regulating methods are used to achieve health-preserving goals.

Using rotating, bending, and stretching motions to regulate viscera and dredge channels

The emphasis on rotating, bending, and stretching motions is one of the outstanding features during the Posture Adjustment of Health Qigong. There are many rotating, bending, and stretching movements especially of the trunk in the four Health Qigong exercises.

The rotating, bending, and stretching motions of the spinal column are emphasized in many postures in Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing. For example, rotating strength is used from the legs to the waist and then to the arms in “Pulling back Tails of Nine Bulls”. Joint-by-joint drawing, bending, and stretching motions are used for the head, neck, chest, waist, and sacral vertebrae in “Bowing Posture”. The movements of the body trunk fully reflect the characteristics of the five animals in Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi. In “Tiger Posture” for example, the knee-bending, abdomen-drawing, chest-drawing, knee-stretching, hip-forwarding, abdomen-arching, and backward-bending movements are completed at one go so that the spinal column has worm-movements from a folded state to an unfolded state. In Deer Wrestling, the waist is bent and rotated sideways with large amplitude. In Deer Running, the back is arched and the abdomen is drawn in. In Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue which lays more emphasis on breathing, the trunk does not move much, but straightening adjustments are also reflected in all character formulas, such as the leftward and rightward rotating movements of the trunk in “Sh” character formula, and the shoulder-squaring, chest-expanding, and head-shrinking movements in “Hiss” character formula. In “Shaking Head and Tail to Dispel Heart Fire” of Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jing, the spinal column is bent sideways and rotated to pull the tail bones and the neck. In “Both Hands Touching the Feet to Strengthen the Kidneys and Waist”, the spinal column is bent forward and stretches backward to create benign stimulation on the trunk.

Regular rotating, bending, and stretching motions of the trunk can regulate viscera and dredge channels. According to theories of the traditional medicine of our country, the trunk is where all channels of the body goes through. These channels connect viscera with the rest of the body. “All ways of the five viscera come from channels” (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Suwen: the Channel Theory). “These 12 channels belong to the viscera inside the body and connect the limbs and joints on the outside” (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Divine Axis: the Sea Theory). All of this has clearly pointed out the relationship between viscera and channels. All of the Ren and Du Channels and channels distributed on both sides of the spinal column or running across the spinal column and circulating all over the body are closely related to the spinal column. Therefore once the channels are unblocked, the blood and Qi circulation will be smooth and the viscera functions will be strengthened. According to modern medicine, exercising the spinal column will not only improve blood circulation, strengthen muscles, prevent pathological changes in the surrounding soft tissues, and prevent hyperosteogeny, but also promote the regulation of the viscera because the preganglionic neurons that regulate the autonomic nerves of the viscera are located inside the lateral corners and anterior corners of the spinal cord. The postganglionic neurons are located on both sides or on the frontal surface of the spinal column. Therefore spinal column exercises will have a direct influence on the autonomic nervous system and thus influence the functions of the visceral system. Health Qigong exactly uses all kinds of rotating, turning, stretching, and extending movements of the trunk to regulate viscera, dredge channels, and achieve body-building and health-preserving goals.

Moving the distal ends to coordinate Qi and blood and strengthen muscles and bones

It is another feature of Health Qigong during Posture Adjustment to strengthen the movement of small joints and small muscle clusters at distal ends of the body. There are many regular movements of fingers, toes, wrists, heels, elbows, and knees in Health Qigong

, such as the forced opening of lotus-leaf palms, the powerful wrist-erecting and palm-pushing movement, and the ground-grabbing movement with ten toes of both feet which are completed at one go in “Showing Claws and Wings” of Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing. Another example is the conversions among the natural palms, dragon claws, and clenching in “Blue Dragon Reaching out Claws”. In Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi, the coordination between the tiger claws and tiger pouncing with fingers as hard as steel hooks, the engagement between flexible Ape Hooking and the heel-lifting movement, and the coordination between the nimble Bird Wings and the balance upon the knee-lifting movement have all reflected the regular motions of the distal ends of upper and lower limbs. In Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue, the motions of wrists and fingers are also manifested in different ways. For example, the palm-erecting, wrist-rotating, and abducting movements in “Hiss” character formula embody the motions of the distal joints of limbs. Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jing gives more prominence to the exercise of distal ends of limbs. The wrist-bending motion of Bazi Palms, the finger-erecting motion, the palm-opening motion, and the clenching and adduction of the side-drawn hands in “Drawing the Bow with Both Hands like Shooting an Eagle” complement each other. The fully outward rotation of both arms and palms in “Eliminating Five Strains and Seven Impairments” and the coordination of the palm-rotating motion, fist-clenching motion, and ground-grabbing motion with ten toes in “Clenching Fists and Glaring Eyes to Increase Qi and Strength” all reflect the multi-directional and multi-strength motions of the small joints and small muscle clusters at distal ends of limbs.

Moving the distal ends to coordinate Qi and blood and strengthen muscles and bones. According to theories of the traditional medicine of our country, the tips of fingers and toes are starting or ending points of the 12 channels. For example, the Hand Taiyang Channel of the Small Intestine Begins from the tip of the little finger. The Foot Taiyang Channel of the Urinary Bladder ends at the outer side of the little toe. The source points of the 12 channels are located near the wrists and ankles. The theory of the twelve source acupoints (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Divine Pivot: Nine Kinds of Needles and Twelve Source Acupoints) applies in the event of diseases with the five viscera. For example, Taiyuan, the source acupoint of the Lung Channel of Hand Taiyin, is located in the dent of the radialis of the transverse grains of the palm (facing upward). Qiuxu, the source acupoint of the Gall Bladder Channel of Foot Shaoyin, is located in the dent in the lower front of the outer ankle. The elbows and knees are where the internal Qi is easily blocked. For example, when there are there are problems with the heart and lungs, internal Qi will be stagnated in the elbows. When there are problems with the kidneys, internal Qi will be stagnated in the back sides of both knees (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine•Divine Axis•Pathogenic Factors). From this we can see that regular movements of distal joints can dredge channels and coordinate Qi and blood. According to theories of modern medicine, movements of distal ends of limbs will improve peripheral blood circulation of distal ends, promote the return flow of venous blood and lymph, boost Qi and blood exchange, and strengthen the ability to control and regulate the peripheral nerve of limbs, muscles, and the coordination between brain nerves and the motions of distal ends of limbs. To sum up, Health Qigong uses all kinds of regular movements of the fingers, toes, wrists, elbows, and knees to coordinate Qi and blood, strengthen muscles and bones, and achieve body-building and health-preserving goals.

Combining relaxation with tightness, adjusting Yin and Yang, and balancing the organism

The combination of relaxation and tightness is also one of the main features during the Posture Adjustment of Health Qigong. Relaxation means that the muscles, joints, central nervous system, and viscera are relaxed during practice. Tightness means appropriate strength is used in a slow manner during practice. The combination of relaxation and tightness is an embodiment of the Yin-Yang theory of traditional medicine in Health Qigong exercises. The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine has made the following comments on the relationship between Yin-Yang and health: “When Yin and Yang are in a relative equilibrium, the spirit will be in good condition” and “when Yin and Yang are well-balanced, the body will be full of vitality”. This means Yin and Yang are in a unity of opposites. A man will be free of diseases only when the Yin-Yang balance is maintained in the human body. Health Qigong adjusts the Yin and Yang inside the human body through its unique exercising mode-combined relaxation and tightness.

Health Qigong realizes posture adjustment with a combination of relaxation and tightness in a gentle and slow state. In “Pulling back Tails of Nine Bulls” of Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing, both arms are adducted and rotated until they are gradually pulled to the end points. At this point they are in the tight state which belongs to Yang. The arm muscles, muscle clusters on the back and abdomen, and some muscle clusters of lower limbs are doing work in a contracted state. Later, the waist is turned to drive both arms to reach out until the next arm adduction and pulling movement. At this point they are in a relaxed state which belongs to Yin. The muscles at joints of the lower limbs, waist, abdomen, shoulders, elbows, and wrists are relaxed one by one. Another example is “Drawing the Bow with Both Hands like Shooting an Eagle” in Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jing. We should display a state of serene mind, relaxed body and be natural and at ease when starting to take the step. This state belongs to Yin. When drawing the bow to shoot the eagle, we should slowly tension both arms and maintain the drawing posture to create an agitating feeling. This state belongs to Yang. In “Seven Movements of the Back to Eliminate all Diseases”, the toes grab the ground and heels are lifted to keep a short-term balance of the body in a relatively tensioned state of muscles all over the body. Then relax the body and drop the heels to slightly hammer the ground. The posture adjustment with combined relaxation and tightness is implemented throughout the four Health Qigong exercises.

Combination of relaxation and tightness, adjustment of Yin and Yang, and balance of organism reflect the inner requirements on the movement guidance of Health Qigong and follow the basic theories of traditional medicine, such as mutual growth and reduction between Yin and Yang and mutual conversion between Yin and Yang. Remedying defects, rectifying errors, aiding the weak, and restraining the strong are all meant to coordinate the relative equilibrium between Yin and Yang in the human body and thus to strengthen the body. According to theories of modern medicine, the relaxation-tightness exercise with all parts being relatively relaxed benefits the contraction and relaxation of muscles, helps trainees to relax the mind, adjusts the nervous system, improves or balances the physiological functions of the organs of various systems of the human body, and thus achieves the body-building and health-preserving goals. (Ding Liling)

Reference: “Posture Adjustment” and “Health Preserving” in Health Qigong

Nutrition Philosophy of Qigong

Health Qigong is an embodiment of the excellent health-preserving culture of China, which has a history of thousands of years. As a health-preserving exercise, Health Qigong is based on traditional theories such as the Man-Nature Unity Theory, the Yin-Yang Theory, the Theory of Five Elements, and the Channel Theory. Its unique motion modes and rich theoretical content have determined the unique nutrition mode of Health Qigong.

1. Nutrition philosophy of Man-nature Unity

Man-Nature Unity is both a basic concept in the Chinese philosophy and an important theoretical basis for the Health Qigong Theory. “Nature” refers to all objective things in general, including the nature and human society and the rules of their variation. As a component part of the natural, man is inevitably subject to the influence of the changes of nature. This is why people say “one who wants to preserve health must carefully respect the nature”. A “nourishing Yang in spring and Yin in autumn and winter” health-preserving theory was first proposed in Huangdi’s Internal Classics.

And the concept of Man-Nature Unity has been fully embodied in the traditional food culture of our country. Internal Classics has clearly pointed out that proper dietary control is the key to longevity. For example Internal Classics: Suwen holds that flavors in compliance with the season rules are the guarantee for health, such as acid flavor in spring, bitter flavor in summer, spicy flavor in autumn, and salty flavor in winter. In addition, it is also believed in theories of traditional Chinese medicine that the dietary structures and dietary behaviors of the human kind must in concordance with the four seasons and the weather; otherwise they will have adverse effects on human health. Suwen: Antediluvian Primitive Theories points out that: “wise ancient people abode by the rules of Yin and Yang, followed the correct approaches, properly controlled their diets, led a regular life, and seldom overstrained themselves. Therefore they were able to preserve both the body and the spirit and live to the natural span of their lives.””

2. Nutrition philosophy of Yin-Yang Theory

Yin-Yang Theory states the unity of Yin-Yang opposites. It is a world outlook and methodology used to learn all things in the universe. In the field of Health Qigong, Yin-Yang Theory is used to account for the tissue structure, physiological functions, and pathological changes of the human body. And it is used to direct various kinds of training with an emphasis on the principle that “Yin and Yang must be clearly differentiated in the regulation of Qi flowing in channels”.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that all diseases of the human body, no matter how complicated, can be divided into Yin and Yang categories. The Yin and Yang natures of food need to be paid attention to in the nutritional mode of Health Qigong. Generally speaking, cold and cool foods are Yin-natured and provide heat-clearing, fire-purging, blood-cooling, and poison-neutralizing effects. Warm and hot foods are Yang-natured and provide cold-dissipating, channel-warming, vein-dredging, and Yang-boosting effects. The warm or hot nature is opposite to the cool or cold nature. All foods (e.g. ginger, fistular onion stalk, parsley) applicable to symptoms such as anemofrigid cold, fever, cold-aversion, running nose, and headache, foods (e.g dry ginger, black tea) applicable to symptoms such as stomachache, vomiting, and hot-drink preference, and foods (e.g. capsicum chilli and liquor) applicable to cold limbs, cold intolerance, and rheumatic joint pain are warm-natured or hot-natured foods. All foods used for hot-natured body constitution and symptoms are cool-natured or cold-natured foods.

For example when we practice Routine 1 “Swinging the Head and Lowering the Body to Relieve Stress” of Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin, we can stimulate the Du Channel by crouching on both feet and swinging the coccygeal end and stimulate Dazhui Acupoint by swinging the head and thus to dredge the channels, reduce the heat, and remove excessive heart fire. If the practicer has great internal heat, we can add more Yin-natured foods to the diet such as duck meat, spinach, and bitter gourd, which will often boost the body-building effect.

3. Nutrition philosophy of the Theory of Five Elements

The five elements herein referred to are Wood, Fire, Metal, Water, and Earth. The Theory of Five Elements is a theory that explains the interrelations between things with the boosting and restraining relations between the five elements. In Health Qigong, the complicated things and phenomena exhibited in the life activities of man are categorized by means of analysis, classification, and deduction according to the characteristics of the five elements.

And the inter-promoting, inter-complementing, inter-restricting, and inter-checking relations between the liver, heart, spleen, lung, and kidney systems during the body-building and health-preserving process are explained and explored according to the inter-promoting, inter-complementing, inter-restricting, and inter-checking rules of the five elements. In traditional dietary health preservation, foods are divided into acid, bitter, sweet, spicy, and salty types that correspond to the five elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. The Book of History: Hongfan states that: “Salty food is used for mild laxation, bitter food is used for fire reduction, acid food is used for correction, spicy food is used for transformation, and sweet food is used for sowing and reaping.” This explains the one-on-one matchup between the five elements and the five flavors. Internal Classics also states that: “spicy flavor provides dispersing effect, acid flavor provides astringing effect, sweet flavor provides relaxing effect, bitter flavor provides solidifying effect, and salty flavor provides softening effect”.”

For example, the “XU” in Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue can release foul Qi from the liver and regulate the liver. Sufficient blood in the liver will benefit heart Yang and sufficient heart Yang will warm the spleen and remove damp. However the spleen prefers dryness. Excessively strong Yin blood in the liver will be actually adverse to the spleen Yang. Therefore we could eat some food that disperses the depressed liver energy and regulates the flow of Qi while practicing, such as celery, crowndaisy chrysanthemum, tomato, turnip, orange, pomelo, tangerine, citron, and finger citron to regulate the liver, and hyacinth beans, sorghum rice, pearl barley, buckwheat, chestnuts, lotus seeds, gordon euryale seeds, Chinese yam, jujube, carrot, cabbage, pumpkin, tangerines, and oranges to invigorate the spleen.

4. Nutrition philosophy of the Channel Theory

Channels include trunk channels and branch channels. They are passages that carry blood and Qi of the entire body, link internal organs, limbs, and joints, and connect the upper, lower, interior, and exterior parts of the body. The Channel Theory is the theoretical basis for both traditional Chinese medicine and Health Qigong.

It is believed in Health Qigong Theory that the Qi, blood, and body fluid of the human body cannot nourish the viscera and tissues until they are transported by the channel system to all parts of the body. Therefore we can dredge channels and regulate the viscera by properly stretching and turning limbs from time to time. Many exercises of Health Qigong are performed under the guidance of the Channel Theory.

For example, “Holding One Arm Aloft to Regulate the Functions of the Spleen and Stomach” of Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin stimulates the related channels in the abdomen and sternocostal parts and Shu Acupoint in the back through the alternating up-down stretching motions of the left and right upper limbs. And eating some warm-natured or hot-natured food such as beef, mutton, onion, leek, ginger, or jujube during the practice will warm the body, excite the physiological functions, increase the vigor, and dredge the channels.

To sum up, perfect combination of the features of Health Qigong exercises with nutriology will boost the body-building effects of Health Qigong and further promote the development of Health Qigong. (Ding Yu)

Reference: Nutrition Philosophy of Health Qigong

A Brief Analysis of Preparatory Exercises before Practicing Qigong

Health Qigong is an auto-exercise based on the perfect combination of posture regulation, breathing regulation, and mental regulation. The practicer is required to stay focused and take natural and long-lasting breaths during the practice. But physical exercise not only bears gentle and slow movement features but also contains tendon-stretching, bone-drawing, firmness-gentleness alternating, and forces-to-the-ends movements with wide ranges. Hence we need to get fully prepared both mentally and physically before the practice in order to prevent damages due to limitation of joint motions and excessive viscosity of muscles during practice, avoid deformed movements due to stiff muscles, inertial viscera, and absent-mindedness, excite the central nervous system, bring the response, comprehensive analytical ability, and differentiating ability of the brain into an appropriate state, promote the coordination between the motor centers participating in the activity, and thus naturally enter the practice of Health Qigong and achieve good practice effects.

Unfortunately, observation results show that most Health Qigong instructors and amateurs have an inadequate understanding of preparatory exercises before Health Qigong practice. They do not know the purpose, significance, and rules of preparatory exercises, let alone a complete set of effective routines and methods. In most cases they merely do some random conditioning exercises or casually press legs and mobilize joints before practicing Health Qigong. Both the form and contents of such exercises are simplistic and mechanical. To be worse, some practicers even take it for granted that since Health Qigong movements are slow and gentle, preparatory exercises are not even important. As a result, such practicers often give up preparatory exercises completely. This will not only affect the practicing efficiency of the practicer but also cause strains to the locomotor system of the practicer or, in some serious cases, cause certain injuries and thus impede the further implementation of Health Qigong activities.

Functions of preparatory exercises

1. Regulating the mental status before practicing; Preparative execises can bring the excitedness of the cerebral cortex to an appropriate level. Before Health Qigong practice, the practicer can use autosuggestion and meditation to focus the mind, relax the brain, enter a state of peace and quietness, and thus get prepared for the unity of “Three Regulations” in practice.

2. Promoting the functional levels of internal organs in the circulating and respiratory systems; Preparatory exercises promote the functions of the respiratory system and leave elevated-excitedness marks in the respiratory center of the cerebral cortex. Entering the formal movements on top of this elevated excitedness will increase the pulmonary ventilation volume and ensure the sufficient oxygen supply during formal practice.

3. Promoting the coordination between centers involved in movements; Preparatory exercises can connect multiple conditional reflexes related to motor skills so that the practicer has more reasonable rhythms, more accurate movements, more precise postures, and more coordinated motions during Health Qigong practice.

4. Improving the metabolic level and raising the body temperature; Preparatory exercises can raise the body temperatures of the practicer and thus reduce the muscular viscosity, increase the contractive and diastolic velocities of muscles, and strengthen the muscle power. Under a higher body temperature, hemoglobin and myoglobin will release more oxygen and thus increase the oxygen supply for muscles. Due to the increased level of substance metabolism, the excitedness of nerves and muscular tissues will be widely increased. In addition, the increase in muscle temperatures will dilate the small vessels, reduce the peripheral resistance, and increase the blood supply for muscles. At the same time, increased body temperature will add to the extensibility of muscles and tendons, increase their tenacity, and prevent sports injuries.

Requirements of preparatory exercises

The purpose of preparatory exercises is to cause a trace effect in organs and systems of the body. This trace effect relates to the post-excitation effect of the nervous system, the secretion of some hormones in the internal secretion glands, and the temperature effect of increased body temperature.

The length of time that this “trace” stays in the body depends on the degree of stimulation by the preparatory exercise and the interval between the preparatory exercise and the formal exercise. Therefore the workload and intensity of the preparatory exercise and the interval between the preparatory and formal exercises are crucial factors. Generally speaking, the preparatory exercise shall last 10~15min and its intensity shall be so that the practicer feels warmed-up and sweats a little bit without any heavy breath. Due to the “Three Regulations” requirement of Health Qigong, the interval between the preparatory exercise and formal practice should better be no longer than 3min.

Notes about preparatory exercises

1. The exercise shall be both comprehensive and clearly targeted. Except Liu Zi Jue, all exercises of Health Qigong require movements of the entire body and alternating firmness and gentleness. Therefore their preparatory exercises shall be able to warm up the muscles, joints, and tendons. Moreover, Health Qigong exercises involve particular requirements on different parts of the body. For example, Ba Duan Jin involves high requirements on the strength of lower limbs, Yi Jin Jing involves high requirements on the flexibility of the spine column in all directions, and Wu Qin Xi involves high requirements on the coordination between the nervous system and the body. Therefore different preparatory exercises shall be chosen for different formal exercises to be practiced.

2. The preparatory exercise shall be simple, less intensive, and easy to learn. This is because a preparatory exercise is meant to get the practicer prepared for the formal exercise. Compared with the formal exercise, it should be basically auxiliary and secondary. In addition, the both the physical and mental loads of the human body should better be raised in a bit-by-bit manner. Therefore the preparatory exercise must be so arranged that it is easy to learn and not very intensive. Only in this way can a preparatory exercise truly mobilize the practicer both mentally and physically, prevent injuries and cardiovascular accidents, and serve the formal exercise.

3. The amplitude shall be moderate and movements gentle and slow. The preparatory exercise needs to warm up all related joints of the body, stretch relevant muscles and tendons, and raise the service level of the heart and lungs. But at the beginning of the exercise, the practicer’s body is usually not hot enough and the heart and lungs are very inertial. Therefore the preparatory shall be provided with a moderate amplitude and gentle and slow movements. This way it will both warm up the body and prevent muscle strains and a series of problems caused by inertia of the internal organs.

4. The body shall be warmed up in an orderly manner from head to foot. The purpose of the preparatory exercise is to make sure that full-body movements are done under a relaxed physical and mental status. Therefore we should carefully consider the sequence of activities while arranging the preparatory exercise, so that the practicer won’t be confused or have to go out of the way to consider what the next movement is while practicing.

5. The full body shall be stretched with moderate strength. The warm-up exercise shall not only warm up the joints and activate the functions of internal organs, but also warm up muscles related to the formal exercise. This will add to the extensibility of muscles and the amplitude of movements and prevent injuries to muscles and joints. And the exercise of Health Qigong will involve 90% percent of all muscles, including both big and small muscle groups. Therefore, while arranging the preparatory exercise, we should consider stretching all muscle groups of the entire body but with gradual and moderate use of strength so as to prevent injuries to muscles and joints.

6. The “Three Regulations” shall be well combined and relaxed appearance with mental tension is required. The preparatory exercise is in the service of Health Qigong and therefore has to bear the features of Health Qigong. As a result it must both present the characteristics of the traditional sports of our nation and accord with the principles of modern science. And the most distinguishing features of Health Qigong are the approaches of posture regulation, breathing regulation, and mental regulation, the combination of these “Three Regulations”, and the practicing style of relaxed appearance with mental tension, which are quite different from the features of warm-up exercises of modern sports. (Hu Xiaofei and Zhuang Yongchang)

Reference: A Brief Analysis of Preparatory Exercises before Practicing Health Qigong