Da Cheng Quan
Qi Cultivation Exercises
Qi is the motive force behind circulation. Like the current in a body of water, Qi is responsible for circulating blood and fluids throughout our bodies. These exercises focus on postural principles that lengthen the spine and root the body. By executing slow and smooth movements that allow the practitioner to sense and feel the actions of the Qi, they cultivate our relationship with Qi and strengthen our ability to circulate Qi within our bodies.
One of the most obvious ways to observe the movement of Qi is by noticing how these exercises push warmth and circulation into the hands. From here, we can start to understand that proper movement of Qi as it irrigates the entire body with blood and fluids to nourish the tissues and the organs, thereby maintaining a higher level of health and performance.
These exercises can be learned and performed by anyone. There is no experience required and they are an essential starting point for more advanced practices.
Liu Zi Jue Qi Gong
Six Healing Sounds
The Six Healing Sounds (Liu Zi Jue) qi gong set is one of the oldest methods of Taoist health preservation exercises in China. Each sound creates a vibration which stimulates and harmonizes the functioning of a specific internal organ and its related meridian. Six Healing Sound Qi Gong has been found particularly effective in breaking up stagnation and blockages to the flow of qi (vital force) and blood in the organs and their surrounding tissues.
The entire set of sounds and their accompanying movements takes about 20 minutes to perform. The sounds can also be practiced seasonally to help the body harmonize with the changes of climate particular to that season. For example, the heart sound releases heat form the body in the summer, and the kidney sound drives out winter's cold.
In the 1990s a large research group in Beijing carefully studied and analyzed the Six Healing Sounds, and then conducted extensive clinical trials of these exercises. The researchers found that the Healing Sounds produced significant positive changes in participants blood lipid and blood sugar levels, and lowered blood pressure. Additionally, after the performing the exercises, participants felt more calm and relaxed.
Shaolin Nei Gong
The Shaolin Nei Gong is a qi gong set designed to cultivate the qi of the practitioner. This set consists of 6 exercises of moderate physical difficulty. By cultivating and strengthening the qi, the practitioner will also cultivate and strengthen the body. This makes the Shaolin Nei Gong an ideal practice for anyone who seeks to improve health and vitality.
This qi gong set is taught to Chinese medicine practitioners so that they can strengthen the qi of their body. This prepares them to use their body to heal patients. Isolated exercises are also often extracted to be prescribed to patients for rehabilitation.
The Shaolin Temple is famous for its monks who practice gong fu. They used physical training to condition the body, so as to prepare the body for meditation. In addition to furthering themselves, their martial art helped to defend the temple through tumultuous times.
Tian Gan Nei Gong
These traditional exercises are used by Ba Gua and Xing Yi practitioners to develop torsional power that is connected directly to the spine and legs, forming the basis of the so-called “silk reeling energy.” The Tian Gan exercises can be useful to practitioners of other martial arts such as Jiu-jitsu, Aikido and Filipino styles, which employ similar circular and spiral forces to generate power. They can also help enthusiasts of sports like tennis and golf which similarly rely on circular, spiral forces. The Tian Gan exercises also function as a powerful health preservation practice because they literally “wring out” the spine, freeing up restrictions and blockages.
The Tian Gan or “Heavenly Stem” is essentially the central longitudinal axis or stem that passes through the body. It begins at the perineum and goes through the spine passing through the brain and out through the top of the head. This axis must be free of restrictions of the qi (breath/vital force) to circulate properly through the meridians and for micro-circulation to properly supply the brain and spinal column with qi and blood. When this axis is free of restriction, the two key central meridians of the body, Renmo and Dumo are opened and free-flowing,which in turn stimulates and frees-up circulation in all the other meridians of the body.
Wu Xing Qi Gong
Five Element Qi Gong
The Five Element Qi Gong set is composed of 9 simple exercises based on the Five Element theory of Chinese medicine. These exercises are simple, yet profound, making them an ideal set of exercises for those who are new to qi gong. While the Five Element Qi Gong set is not challenging from a physical perspective, they allow the practitioner to engage with and cultivate their qi.
Wu Xing or Five Element theory is one of the cornerstones of Chinese medicine. Five Element theory sorts all things into a correspondence with one of the five elements. Each element has a relationship with the other elements. Some elements help to build up other elements, such as water nurturing wood. The other relationship is when elements inhibit other elements, such as fire inhibiting metal (by melting it). When the Five Elements are in balance, then there is health in the body.
The Five Element Qi Gong set uses the correspondences of the five elements with the five zang organs - the lungs, kidneys, liver, heart and spleen - to regulate the health of the practitioner. The postures open the corresponding meridians associated with each organ. They also gently massage each organ by moving the physical organs via their ligamentous connections to the body. Continued practice of this set will help balance the overall functioning of the organs, energizing you from the inside out.
Xing Yi Nei Gong
Mind-Intention Nei Gong
This set of health and longevity exercises was created by Wang Ji Wu, a famous martial artist and doctor of Traditional Chinese medicine. Wang, who lived to be over 100 years old, designed these exercises to serve as both a system of health exercises that would prevent illness and improve health and to be an adjunct to martial arts training. These sixteen simple exercises work the body from head to toe, combining breathing with gentle yet precise movements.
The exercises take 20-30 minutes to perform and can be learned by almost anyone. When practiced daily, they have been shown to increase vitality, improve strength, coordination and balance. They can also calm the spirit, aid sleep, improve resistance to disease and reduce joint pain.
Recommended Text: Xing Yi Nei Gong: Xing Yi Health Maintenance and Internal Strength Development by Dan Miller and Tim Cartmell. This text has illustrations and descriptions of all of the exercises and is a wonderful adjunct to the instruction provided in the class. It is recommended, but not required.
Yi Jin Jing
Sinew Transforming Classic
The Yi Jin Jing (Sinew Transforming Classic) is one of the oldest recorded qi gong sets, dating back 2000 years. Diagrams of the exercises were found in the Mawang Dui Tombs and have been written about throughout Chinese history.
This Yi Jin Jing is widely believed to have been created by Bodhidharma and then further developed by the monks of the Shaolin temple. These exercises were designed as a complement to a meditation practice. They keep the body limber and strong, which balances the extended sitting found in meditation.
The version of the Yi Jin Jing that we teach has been further adapted to emphasize the tendon strengthening aspect of this set. This allows one to combine suppleness with strength. By strengthening the body, it becomes easier to ward off disease.
The Yi Jin Jing consists of 6 simple exercises. These exercises target the forearms, making them idea for people who work with computers, as a way to prevent repetitive stress injuries. They are equally ideal for body workers or anyone who works with their hands, as it strengthens the arms, particular for fine motor movements.