Body regulation is a component of the Tree Regulations of Health Qigong and the foundation for the Three Regulations. 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, Qi will be scattered.”This indicates the importance of body regulation. Therefore, in Health Qigong exercise we should master the correct techniques and methods for body regulation. Below are the essentials of “body regulation” that I have learned from my exercising and teaching experience in Health Qigong.
1. Lifting and straightening the head and neck as if propping up something
The head is the controller of the entire body, as the saying goes: “man cannot walk without the head; birds cannot fly without wings” and “the coccygeal end should be straight and upright so that spirit can reach the top; the head should be suspended so that the entire body can be light.” Lifting and straightening the head is very important in body regulation. Different people have different methods for practicing this movement. As far as I am concerned, the circulation of genuine Qi will be facilitated as long as we slightly withdraw the chin and gently push up Baihui. Certainly, this should be done with a naturally relaxed neck and a naturally upright head. The up-pushing imagination of Baihui should be moderate. An excessive imagination will result in rigidity and an insufficient imagination will result in laxity.
2. Stretching Meixin
Meixin refers to the midpoint of the line connecting centers of both eyebrows. In the theory of traditional Chinese acupuncture, this place is called Yintang Acupoint which is mainly used to clear the brain, promote eyesight, dredge the nose, unblock the orifices, calm the spirit, and promote intelligence. In the theory of Qigong, Meixin belongs to the upper Dantian, as the ancient saying goes: “the upper Dantian is a vessel for the spirit”, and “the brain is the container of marrow and is referred to as the upper Dantian”. Therefore stretching Meixin is a very important warm-up step for us to enter the exercising state as quickly as possible.
3. Lowering the curtains to look inward
Lowering the curtains means keep the eyes half-open. Looking inward means to focus the attention on a certain place inside the body during the exercise. Looking inward helps eliminate distracting thoughts, purge the brain, achieve serenity, and maintain the spirit during Qigong exercise. It was believed by ancient people that eyes are passages for man’s spirit and all essences of the five Zang viscera are focused in eyes. By looking inward with both eyes during mind concentration, we can prevent the exuding of the spirit and concentrate our mind to facilitate serenity.
4. Butting the tongue against the palate
Butting the tongue against the palate can promote the secretion of saliva. Saliva is a treasure of the human body, as the saying goes “Qi is a life-prolonging drug and saliva is a health-promoting ganoderma”. Modern medical research has revealed that saliva secreted in the mouth contains oxidases and hormones needed by the human body and helps regulate the organism, promote digestion, and prevent cancer. Secondly, by slightly folding the tongue and gently butting it against the palate, we can form a so-called “Magpie Bridge” which connects Ren and Du Channels and facilitates the circulation of blood and Qi.
5. Wearing a smile on the face
Smiling is the best relaxing method. When a person smiles, the brain will enter an almost blank state free of distracting thoughts, which can release the person from a nervous state. Scientific experiments have proved that “smiling is the most effective method to relieve nervous emotions.” By removing the stress on the nerves, we can relax the muscles.
6. Lowering the shoulders and elbows
Lowering the shoulders and elbows means the practicer should relax and lower both shoulder joints and elbow joints in order to prevent nervousness of the shoulder joints, elbow joints, and surrounding muscles. By relaxing both shoulders and naturally lowering both elbows, we can promote the circulation of Qi in the three Yin and three Yang channels of hands.
7. Slumping the chest and straightening the back
This means relaxing and slightly slumping the chest without pushing it outward, and straightening the spinal column without tensioning it. This posture promotes the smooth circulation of blood and Qi in Ren and Du Channels. The chest should be naturally slumped so that the back is straight and upright. The body should be kept steady in order to facilitate the circulation of genuine Qi.
8. Relaxing the waist and abdomen
As the ancient saying goes: “the waist is the vessel for the kidney and the home for Mingmen. The abdomen is an oven for the smelting of Qi”. The waist and abdomen are critical gates for dredging channels and circulating Qi. Relaxing the waist and abdomen will facilitate the smelting and circulation of Qi, help us maintain an upright and straight coccygeal end, and keep unblocked Ren and Du Channels.
9. Withdrawing buttocks and relaxing knees
Withdrawing the buttocks can keep the spinal column straight and upright and facilitate the circulation of genuine Qi over the body; relaxing the knees can promote the circulation of Qi in the three Yin and three Yang channels of feet.
10. Gripping the ground with ten toes
Toes are where the three Yin and three Yang channels of feet meet each other. By gripping the ground with the ten toes, we can stimulate the related channels in the feet and regulate the functions of viscera to which they correspond. While practicing the stance, we should lay flat our feet and grip the ground with toes in order to stabilize the body and facilitate the ascent of genuine Qi.
11. Filling up the aperture and secluding the hearing
Filling up the aperture means gently closing the mouth rather than gritting your teeth and retracting the mouth. Secluding the hearing means keeping your hearing inside the body and isolating it from the outside world. Lao Zi says: “Fill up your apertures. Close your doors.”By slightly closing the mouth, we can return the hearing to our body to block out the external distractions and facilitate our serenity in exercise.
To sum up, the most fundamental keys to Health Qigong exercise are relaxation, serenity, and a natural way. And relaxation is the precondition and foundation for serenity and natural way. Here relaxation means both physical and mental relaxation. Body regulation facilitates serenity, spirit cultivation, and mind concentration. Following the abovementioned instructions on body regulation will be quite helpful for us to achieve serenity and enter the Qigong state as quickly as possible.
Reference: Essentials of Body Regulation of Health Qigong Exercise by Xia Xuewei Chinese Health QiGong Association jsqg.sport.org.cn