The practice of Qigong has been a part of Chinese culture for thousands of years. It is the ancient art of breathing, movement, and meditation that promotes energy and healing. In recent years though, scientists have done research that claims to uphold all of those centuries of medical literature, proving that the practice of Qigong has health benefits for the body and the mind. There are 8 steps to Brocade Chi Kung:
1. Pressing Up to the Heavens with Two Hands
Consists of upward, circular movements with the hands that are joined loosely and travel up the center line of the body.
This exercise is often known as the Triple Warmer, Triple Heater or Triple Heart Burner because of the calming benefits it provides to the heart, lungs and stomach, assisting in the proper flow and balance with the endocrine system; an unbalanced Heater can lead to problems like ADD, fatigue, anxiety, and panic attacks and sometimes insomnia and tinnitus.
The exercise also helps strengthen a number of muscle groups, primarily the back and spine, but also the shoulders, pectorals, triceps, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves. Like with all Qigong, deep breathing promotes relaxed heartbeat and blood pressure and coordinated movements promote brain function.
2. Drawing the Bow and Letting the Arrow Fly
In horse stance, the action of drawing and loosing a bow is imitated on either side of the body.
The actions of this exercise are intended to help balance and replenish the kidneys and give strength to the lower body. Because of the prolonged squatting stance, the knees, legs, waist and back are worked, increasing balance and cardiovascular intensity. Also because of the stretching nature, there is usually a release of tension. Like with all Qigong, deep breathing promotes relaxed heartbeat and blood pressure and coordinated movements promote brain function.
3. Separating Heaven and Earth
Resembling, “Pressing Up to the Heavens with Two Hands,” but with hands pressed in opposite directions, one palm facing up and the other facing down. Main action consists of smooth motion where hands switch positions.
This exercise is designed to strengthen and balance the spleen and stomach. Added benefits include the strengthening of the muscles in the arms, shoulders, back, and abdomen. Like with all Qigong, deep breathing promotes relaxed heartbeat and blood pressure, and coordinated movements promote brain function.
4. Wise Owl Gazes Backwards
Stretching of the neck with left/right alternating glances.
The goal of this exercise is to relieve stiff muscles and pinched nerves in the spine, which will help to cure energy depletion and consumptive illness. It also helps promote vitality and focus, supposedly slowing aging. The eyes and eye muscles are also exercised during this step.
5. Big Bear Turns from Side to Side
Squatting in a horse stance, hands are placed on the thighs with elbows outward facing, followed by twisting glances to each side.
This exercise is intended to directly increase a person’s energy and life force and lead to power, health, and longevity. Animal Frolics Chi Kung and traditional Chinese literature also site this exercise as having benefits for the heart. The movements of this step help rid the body of “heart fire” (heartburn), as the deep breathing is said to absorb and control the heat.
The actions also promote increased strength primarily in the muscles of the legs and lower back as well as the upper back and triceps. The stretching motions help promote flexibility in the spine, hips, abdomen, and lower back.
6. Punching with an Angry Gaze
Resembling, “Drawing the Bow and Letting the Arrow Fly,” except that movements are made with a fist.
This exercise is said to bring strength and vitality to the liver and also bring the courage and fortitude of the warrior spirit to the performer. With these movements, all muscles of the body are exercised, from the legs and lower back with the horse stance; to the arms, shoulders, and wrists with the punching motions; to face and eyes with the emoting of dispelled angry and tension.
7. Touching the Toes and Bending Backwards
Movement consists of a forward bend followed by an upwards stretch and a slight backwards bend with hands massaging lower back/kidney area.
This exercise is meant to guide the qi to the kidneys, to stimulate the Yin meridians (lungs, heart, pericardium, spleen, kidney, and liver). Flexibility and strength are promoted in the hip flexors, abductors, abdomen, quadriceps, hamstrings and lower back. The bodily inversion increases blood circulation to the upper torso and back massage promotes health and circulation to the kidneys. For those with blood pressure issues, it is not recommended to move the head below the line of the heart.
8. Shaking the Body
Small continued rocking motion of pushing up on to the balls of the feet than back down again.
Aside from being fun and giving the calf muscles a good workout, this exercise is thought to rid the body of disease and stimulate the health and wellness of the immune system. The muscles of the legs, hips and lower back are also exercised and the Achilles tendons and spine are well stretched.
It is recommended to practice these exercises daily, and for 100 days at minimum. People of all ages can engage in this form of exercise. If a teacher isn’t available in your area, the National Qigong Association holds annual conferences, in which you can learn about the methods, as well as practice in groups or alone with a professional instructor.