The Shanghai Medical Qigong Exercises Part 2
More simple qigong exercises to improve your life.
by Shaun McCorkell
Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong can be considered systems of non-strenuous exercise that should be practiced on a daily basis. The slow and relaxed movements of the forms strengthen the ligaments and tendons, which in turn increases balance. The stances and techniques executed in the forms help tone the muscles of the body, while the deep breathing massages internal organs. This is accomplished when the lower lungs fill with air and expand, causing the other organs to move against each other. Benefits from Tai Chi are both physical and psychological. Tai Chi Chuan is symmetrical and provides for balanced development of the body. The practice of Tai Chi and Qigong also helps one to relieve stress and clear the mind. This allows for greater focus and higher development of sensitivity of other people's chi, or energy. Blood pressure is also reduced and circulation is improved. The importance of body alignment will help one improve posture and allow for better energy flow. Tai Chi can also be considered a form of meditation.
Various Qigong exercises may be performed on a daily basis either in the morning or at night. These exercises are beneficial for chi flow and for allowing you to practice your Tai Chi form with a deeper understanding of breathing and focus. I have assembled a list of different Qigong exercises I perform in various combinations. Remember, there are no quick results. You must practice these short forms daily and consistently over time. Then you will notice results. These results are many, including lowered blood pressure, increased energy flow; both physical and mental relaxation, and better-attuned focus. These results improve not only your martial arts training but your day-to-day life, and can be performed by anyone at any age.
It is important to focus on your breathing during these exercises. It should be deep and rhythmic. To breathe correctly for these exercises, inhale for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 4, filling the lower abdomen as you inhale.
Waving Hello (similar to waving hands in clouds)
Start with your legs shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and your left hand in front of your belly button positioned like you are holding water or change in your hand (hand is about two inches from your body). The right hand is in front of your chest with the palm facing away from you, fingers straight up. Shift your arms and body over to your right, and begin turning your right hand out. Switch hands and then go in the opposite direction (right hand scoops under, and begin turning your left hand out), just like you're waving hello to somebody. Shift your hands and body to your left, and switch hands again. Continue this routine for your desired amount of time.
Cleaning the Mirrors
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and pelvis tilted slightly forward. Bring both hands up through your center, palms facing away from your body, hands NOT touching. As you reach head height, open your arms to the sides and then drop them down as you sink your body weight. As you begin to rise up, start to bring your hands back up through your center. The palms of your hands remain facing away from your body the entire time. You could also reverse the direction of your hand circles, bringing your hands down through your center as you sink your weight, out and up as you rise. This exercise is very similar to the Flying exercise mentioned previously, in that you must retain proper body alignment and rhythmic breathing.
Place both knees together and sink slightly. Rest your left hand on your left knee and your right hand on your right knee. Both hands should be right above the kneecap. The reason for your hand placement is to provide proper support for your knees throughout the exercise. From this position you rotate your knees clockwise or counter clockwise. Your knees NEVER separate, and your feet NEVER leave their position on the ground. You must always train your body symmetrically, so remember to rotate in both directions every time you perform this exercise.
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and your pelvis tilted slightly forward. Begin twisting your body, from the waist, to the left and right. As you twist, your arms swing lifelessly around your waist. Example: If you twist left, your left arm swings behind your back and the top of your hand hits your right hip (kidney). At the same time your right hand swings in front of you and your palm hits your left hip. The arm positions switch when you twist to the right. Let the momentum of your twists spin your arms. It is very important that your shoulders and arms remain relaxed and free of tension. Concentrate on your posture and on channeling any stress, tension and negativity into the ground. You could also raise your left foot onto the heel as you twist towards the left, placing more weight into your right leg, and vise a versa as you twist towards the right. This variation should only be tried after you are comfortable doing the original method.
This exercise will require four participants. Begin with one person positioned in a horse stance. Have a person kneel on each side of his legs, holding them in place. A third person stands in front of him. The person in front will take both of the individual's arms, pulling them toward himself. The person being stretched must keep his legs where they are (in the horse stance) and to try and get their back as straight as possible (His butt shouldn't sink lower then his legs). His arms should fully extend with the palms facing down as he looks towards the floor. This is a great stretch to open up your hip and shoulder joints. It is essential that these two areas of the body remain flexible to allow maximum chi flow to your extremities.
Spread both legs out about shoulder-width, angling your feet outward. Now sink straight down, bringing your butt as close and vertical to the ground as possible. Your feet remain flat on the ground. Keep your spine as straight as possible. Your arms rest on the inside of your knees. This stance will help to open up your hip joints.
You may have noticed that many kids stay in this type of stance when playing with their toys or watching TV. How is it that they can hold this position for extended periods of time when - for most of us - we feel strain and discomfort when attempting this exercise? The reason is that as we age we acquire higher levels of stress in our lives, which in turn is very unhealthy for our bodies. The goal of these Qigong exercises and Tai Chi form practice is to minimize or eliminate our stress. We want to try to recapture that time in our lives when we were kids - a time in our lives that was practically stress-free.
About Shaun McCorkell:
Shaun McCorkell has been practicing Tai Chi for four years under Sifu Joe Bruzzese and is Chief Instructor of Kempo at the Kempo Martial Arts Dojo of Valley Stream, L.I. Shaun is also a graduate of New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), and holds a bachelor's degree in Architectural Technology. You can visit the Kempo Web site at www.kempomartialarts.net or contact Shaun directly at KempoKorner@optonline.net.