Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ba Duan Jin – Eight Silk Brocades

I teach tai chi and qigong at the prestigious Heartland Spa, in Gilman, IL. This is one of the qigong routines I teach.

Qigong is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. There are thousands of exercises and routines that have been used for centuries to promote wellness. Ba Duan Jin is one of the oldest traditional Qigong routines. It is translated variously as Eight Pieces of Silk Brocades, Eight Section Brocade, Eight Fine Exercises, and many other names.

The eight exercises focus on different areas of the body and different qi meridians. The eight sections consist of progressive stretches (yang) from the ground and relaxations (yin) to the ground. The alternation between stretch and relaxation is called “high peaks and low valleys” and is intended to improve the flow of qi through your body.

1. Support the Heavens – This improves the flow of qi in the triple warmer.
Start in Wu Ji. Inhale slowly and circle your arms overhead. At the crown of your head, turn your hands with the palms up. Exhale and stretch your hands up as if holding up the sky. Inhale slowly and lower your hands to your head, turning them so they are palm down. Exhaling and circle your hands out and back to your sides.
2. Drawing the Bow – This improves the flow of qi in the lower back near the kidneys.
Start in horse stance. Cross your hands in front of your chest with your left hand outside. Inhale slowly, bring your right hand back toward your right shoulder in a fist, and extend your left hand out to the left. Turn your head to the left and look at your left hand. Exhale and release the fingers of your right hand, imagining that you are releasing the string of a bow. Bring your hands back to your chest with your left hand outside. Repeat to the other side.
3. Separating Heaven and Earth – This increases the flow of qi in the stomach and spleen.
Start in Wu Ji with your feet a little wider than normal. Hold your hands in front of your chest with your palms facing down and your fingers pointing to each other. Shift your weight to the right, inhale, raise your right hand overhead, and turn your palm up. Press your left hand down with your palm down. Exhale and return. Repeat to the other side.
4. Looking Backwards to Amend Five Strains and Seven Impairments – This improves the flow of qi in the neck and head.
Start in Wu Ji with your eyes closed. Inhale and slowly turn your head to the left, slowly opening your eyes. Optionally, lean back and look over your shoulder down at your opposite heel. Exhale and return. Repeat to the other side.
5. Head and Tail Swaying to Get Rid of Heart Fire – This pushes qi from the middle dan tien and out through any obstructions.
Start in horse stance, your hands on your thighs with your thumbs pointing out. Slowly wave your head side-to-side a total of four times. Bend left and rotate your upper body down and around to the right. At the same time, sway your buttocks towards the left. Continue rotation around to the beginning position. Exhale as you bend down and inhale as you stand up again.
6. Pulling Toes to Strengthen Kidneys and Waist – This improves the flow of qi in the kidney meridians.
Start in Wu Ji. Inhale and lean back, raising your arms sideways with palms facing up until your hands are overhead. Exhale and bend forward to reach toward your toes, or ankles if you cannot reach your toes. Pull your toes (or ankles) for a second, then release, inhale, and resume the beginning position. Place your hands at your lower back, bend back gently, and massage your kidneys.
7. Punch Slowly with Intense Gaze – This moves stagnant qi to the skin where it can be removed from the body.
Start in horse stance. Inhale and slowly punch your right fist forward. Exert all your force, with an intense gaze as if staring down an opponent. Exhale suddenly and draw your hand back. Repeat with your left hand. Inhale and punch your right hand to the right, exhale and draw your hand back. Repeat to your left. Inhale and punch both fists forward. Exhale and draw your hands back. Inhale and push both palms forward. Exhale and draw your hands back. Keep your body facing forward but watch your hands during all punches.
8. Seven Jolts Prevent All the Ailments – This stimulates six of the main qi meridians and balances the flow of qi.
Start in Wu Ji. inhale and raise up on your toes, lifting your heels as high as you can. Draw your shoulders back and expand your chest. Exhale suddenly, drop your heels to the floor and relax your entire body. Come back to the beginning position. Optionally, clasp your hands behind your back as you raise your heels.

Note: I have greatly expanded the descriptions of the 8 forms of the Ba Duan Jin. You can begin here to read Ba Duan Jin (Part 1 of 8) - Support the Heavens.

© 2010 Eric Borreson