Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ba Duan Jin (Part 1 of 8) - Support the Heavens

This week's post is a detailed look at the Ba Duan Jin qigong exercise called Support the Heavens. It is also known as Uphold the Sky with Two Hands to Nurture Triple Warmer and as Press the Heavens with Two Hands. It is traditionally the first of the eight exercises.

Ba Duan Jin is a traditional qigong routine with hundreds of variations. It is variously translated as Eight Silken Brocades, Eight Pieces of Silk Brocades, Eight Section Brocade, Eight Silken Exercises, Eight Fine Exercises, or many other names.

Qigong is all about body, mind, and breath. These exercises contain specific movements that are synchronized with the breath while the mind concentrates on the movements. The exercises are intended to help develop calm, peaceful movements and sharpen our mental focus. At all times, keep your knees loose and flexible.

This exercise improves the flow of qi in the triple warmer. The triple warmer is separated into upper, middle, and lower portions. The triple warmer functions to regulate the activities of the internal organs and participates in the control of fluid metabolism.

Standing Instructions:
1. Stand in wuji and relax all your joints.
2. Inhale slowly and circle your arms overhead. At the crown of your head, turn your hands so the palms are up. If it is comfortable to do so, interlace your fingers. Exhale and press your hands up as if holding up the sky. Visualize pushing against a resistance.
3. Inhale slowly and lower your hands to your head, rotating them so they are palm down. Exhale and separate your hands, circling your arms out and back to your sides. Visualize moving against a resistance.
4. Do this exercise eight times.

Modification for seated form:
1. Sit in wuji with your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands at your sides in any comfortable position.
2. No change.
3. Return your hands to your sides.
4. No change.

Modification for a more challenging form:
1. No change.
2. Raise your head and eyes to follow the movement of your hands as they travel. Simultaneously, rise up on your toes. This challenges your balance.
3. Simultaneously, lower your heels to the ground.
4. No change.

Benefits & Effects:
1. This exercise balances the metabolism of your Triple Warmer. It is only through the intermediate function of the Triple Warmer that your body can absorb and transfer the vital energy necessary to life.
i. Shangjiao – The Superior Warmer, the upper portion of the Triple Warmer, corresponds to the body cavity above the diaphragm. Functionally, it includes the heart and lungs. It has the function of distributing the nutrients to the whole body.
ii. Zhongjiao – The Central Warmer, the middle portion of the Triple Warmer, corresponds to the body cavity below the diaphragm and above the level of the belly button. Functionally, it includes the stomach and spleen. Its chief function is to digest, absorb, and transport nutrients obtained from food.
iii. Ziajiao – The Lower Warmer, the lower portion of the Triple Warmer, corresponds to the body cavity below the level of the belly button. Functionally, it includes the small and large intestines, kidney, and urinary bladder. Its chief function is to eliminate wastes from the body.
2. Stretching the torso and back prepares you for the following exercises.

To continue this series, see
Ba Duan Jin (Part 2 of 8) - Drawing the Bow

© 2012 Eric Borreson