Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ba Duan Jin (Part 4 of 8) – Looking Backward to Amend 5 Strains and 7 Impairments

This week's post is a detailed look at the Ba Duan Jin qigong exercise called Looking Backward to Amend 5 Strains and 7 Impairments. It is also known as Wise Owl Gazes Backward and as Turning to Tonify the Nervous System. It is traditionally the fourth of the 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 mental focus and calm, peaceful movements. At all times, keep your knees loose and flexible.

This exercise increases the flow of qi in the neck and head. The five strains are the weaknesses of the 5 yin organs: spleen, lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys. The seven impairments refer to injuries caused by emotion: grief, joy, hate, love, happiness, anger, and desire. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), you can become ill when your internal organs are weak and emotions overcome your natural defenses. Strong emotions accumulate in the head. 

Standing Instructions:
1. Stand in wuji with your palms touching your thighs and your eyes lightly closed.
2. Inhale and slowly turn your head to the left and gradually open your eyes as you turn. When you turn to your maximum limit, open your eyes as wide as you can.
3. Exhale and return to the beginning position, with eyes lightly closed.
4. Repeat to the right.
5. Do this exercise eight times.

Modification for seated form:
1. Sit in wuji with your feet flat on the floor.
2. Place your right hand on the outside of your left knee to keep your knees from moving.

Modification for a more challenging form:
2. When you turn to your maximum limit, open your eyes as wide as you can. Lean back and look over your shoulder down at your opposite heel.
CAUTION: When leaning back to look over your shoulder, do not lean your head back. Lean your body and keep your head in line with your neck and spine to protect your cervical vertebrae.

Benefits & Effects:
1. Turning the neck and twisting the body strengthens your neck and straightens your spine, opens the yang meridian up the back, and improves the flow of qi in the head and brain.

For the rest of this series, start with:

© 2012 Eric Borreson

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