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