Friday, January 11, 2013

Ba Duan Jin (Part 6 of 8) – Pulling Toes to Strengthen Kidneys and Waist


This week's post is a detailed look at the Ba Duan Jin qigong exercise called Pulling Toes to Strengthen Kidneys and Waist. It is also known as Touching Toes then Bending Backward and as Two Hands Hold the Feet to Strengthen the Kidneys and Waist. It is traditionally the sixth 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.

Explanation:
This exercise alternately obstructs and frees up the flow of qi in the kidney meridians. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the kidney does not completely match the organ of western medicine. It has the function of storing the qi so as to nourish the viscera, bones, and brain. It assists the lungs and spleen in metabolizing body fluids.

Standing Instructions:
1. Stand in wuji with your feet together.
2. Inhale and lean back, simultaneously raising your arms sideways with palms facing up until your hands are overhead with your palms facing up and arms are straight up.
3. Exhale, keeping your knees straight without locking your knee joint, and bend forward to reach your toes, or as far down as possible if you cannot reach your toes.
4. Pull your toes or ankles for a second, then release, inhale, and resume the beginning position.
5. Place your hands at your lower back, bend back gently, and massage your kidneys for a couple of breaths.
6. Do this exercise eight times.

Modification for seated form:
1. Sit in wuji with your feet flat on the floor.
3. Extend your legs in front of you.
3. ALTERNATE: Extend your legs in front of you. Stretch your feet and toes outward as far as you can. Then bend your feet back toward your shins.

Modification for a more challenging form:
2. Inhale and stand straight, bringing your left knee to your chest, balancing on your right leg. Hold the sole of your foot with both hands.
3. Exhale and extend your left leg as far as you can.
4. Hold the sole of your foot for a few seconds, release, inhale, and resume the beginning position.
5. Place your hands at your lower back, bend back gently, and massage your kidneys for a couple of breaths.
6. Repeat on the other side.

Benefits & Effects:
1. Opens the governing vessel, stretches the muscles and tendons in the legs, and massages the kidneys.

For the rest of this series, start with:

To continue with this series, go to
Ba Duan Jin (Part 7 of 8) - Punch Slowly with Intense Gaze

© 2013 Eric Borreson