Sunday, December 12, 2010

High Peaks and Low Valleys

Qigong is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. There are thousands of exercises and routines that have been used for centuries to promote wellness. I developed this Qigong for Health routine as a healthy and fun way to unwind after a busy day. The first four exercises build your energy. The next four exercises move your mind and body into the calming phase. Alternating between building energy and calming is called “high peaks and low valleys” and is intended to improve the flow of Qi through your body.

All exercises start in wu ji posture with your feet about hip’s distance apart. Relax your shoulders and let all the tension go. Stand with active knees to allow for slow, smooth movements. Use abdominal breathing to encourage deep breathing. This is where you expand your abdomen when inhaling and compress your abdomen when exhaling. Note: This is one of the routines I teach at the Heartland Spa.

1. Rainbow Dance – for stomach and for headaches
Step out into horse stance. Shift your weight to your right leg and lean to the left. Raise your left arm out to shoulder level and look at your left hand, inhaling. At the same time, raise your right hand and hold it above your head so that the palm faces the top of your head. Shift your weight to your left leg and lean to the right. Let your right hand swing down to shoulder height and look at it, exhaling. At the same time, raise your left hand and hold it above your head so the palm faces the top of your head.

2. Flying Wild Goose – for kidneys and legs
Inhale as you raise your arms out to your sides, level with your shoulders. Slowly drop your arms, step forward with the left foot and exhale. Repeat, stepping with the right foot. Continue with alternate stepping.

3. Rotating the Wheel in a Circle – for back strength
Step out into horse stance. Bend forward with your fingers pointing toward the floor and palms facing backward. Begin by swinging your arms to the left, allowing your right hand to cross in front of your body. As your arms begin to circle left and up, allow your hands to turn so that your palms face forward. After your hands have passed over your head and are descending to your right begin to bend forward from your waist. Keep your knees bent and don't move your feet. Allow your left hand to cross in front of your right. When your hands are pointing straight down, you should be fully bent forward. Repeat and alternate direction.

4. Marching While Bouncing the Ball – for strengthening legs, coordination, brain, and balance
Move your hands gently from your sides up to shoulder level in front in time with your legs. Begin with the right leg and hand and then alternate to the other side. Try to lift your leg to horizontal. Change up by using opposite hand and leg.

5. Rolling the Arms – for shoulder and neck flexibility and stress management
Step forward with your right leg and turn your body to the left. Raise your arms, palms up, to shoulder height, with right arm toward front and left arm back as you inhale. Look at your left hand as you bring it forward past your ear, then in front of your chest with the palm down as if holding a ball. At the same time, step back with your right leg, bring your right hand down and in, then in front of you with the palm up, turning your body back to center. Repeat to the right, looking at the right hand.

6. Alternate Punching – for strengthening legs and stress management
Step out to horse stance, bending your knees. Hold your hands in loose fists at your waist. Punch forward gently with one hand, rotating your fist so that your thumb faces down, exhaling. Bring your fist back, inhaling. Repeat on the other side.

7. Opening the Chest – for heart, lungs, and depression
Raise your arms to shoulder height in front and inhale. Turn your palms to face your chest. Open your arms out and slowly exhale. Bring your hands back together shoulder width apart with the palms facing one another and inhale. Turn your palms downward. Lower your hands to level with your waist. At the same time bend your knees and slowly exhale. Raise your arms back to shoulder height, straighten your legs, and inhale. Repeat.

8. Balancing Qi – for promoting qi flow and balancing
Bring your hands to the Dantien, palms up and fingers facing each other. Lift up your hands out and up to chest height while inhaling. Turn palms down, bend your knees slightly, and let your hands move in toward your chest and sink down to the Dantien while exhaling.

© 2010 Eric Borreson This exercise set is modified from the Shibashi Tai Chi Qigong routine.