Written by Gioia Zhang
Translated by Yuqing Yang
Qigong is one part of Chinese culture; Health Qigong is a traditional national sport that regulates one’s mind, body movements, and breathing. The Eight Silken movements are the most popular form of Health Qigong.
Based largely on posture, there are Eight SilkenMovements which fall into two distinct categories – standing and sitting. The standing style involves being widely spread, which supposedly originated during the Qing Guangxu period. It can summarized in the following short verse:
- Hold up your hands and adjust your three Jiao1 双手托天理三焦
- Stretch out on both sides as if shooting a bow and arrow 左右开弓似射雕
- Lift up your arms to heal your spleen and stomach 调理脾胃须单举
- Stretchbackwards for physical weakness and sickness 五劳七伤向后瞧
- Move your head and legs to reduce heart fire (a special term used in Chinese medicine) 摇头摆尾去心火
- Stand on your toes and stretch seven times to get rid of an illness 背后七颠百病消
- Clench your fists and open your eyes wide in order to boost your Qi 攥拳怒目增气力
- Reach down and touch your feet to stabilize your waist 两手攀足固肾腰
The Eight SilkenMovements appear at first to be a simple set of eight movements, but you have to pay attention to every detail to gain the benefits of this type of health Qigong. So let’s start with the warm-up!
The warm-up can be divided into the following detailed steps:
- Stand upright, relax your arms and look straight in front of you.
- Step to the left with your left foot so that your feet are shoulder width apart; rotate your arms inwards and then raise them, so they are straight in front of you in line with your hips; your palms should be facing down and away from your body.
- Bend your knees slightly and rotate your elbows and the back of your arm outwards; hold your arms in front your stomach; palms facing towards you, keep 10-centimeters distance between the fingertips of both hands, your eyes should look straight ahead.
Tips: lift up your head, pull in your chin, touch your palate with the tip of your tongue, slightly close your lips, sink your shoulders, leave more space underneath your armpits, relax your chest and stomach, drop your tailbone and straighten your upper body.
Please be aware of the following mistakes:
- When you hold your arms in front of your stomach, your thumbs should not point upwards; and the rest of your fingers should not point to the ground.
- Do not lean your upper body forwards and do not tilt your tailbone up.
- Don’t push your knees too forward.
- Your feet should be parallel.
This warm-up helps you to relax, regulate your breathing, appease your internal organs, and straighten your body. It prepares you mentally and physically for the following exercises.
Hold up your hands and adjust your three Jiao
“Hold up your hands and adjust your three Jiao” is the first section of the Eight Silken Movements. The three Jiao refer to the upper, middle and lower Jiao. The Upper Jiao refers to the body part above the thoracic diaphragm which includes the lungs and the heart;the Middle Jiao refers to the area that lies below the thoracic diaphragm and above the belly button, including the spleen and the stomach; The Lower Jiao refers to the area found below the belly button including the liver, kidneys, intestines and bladder.
Cross your arms in front of your lower body and lift them upwards so they are crossed in front of your upper body keep extending your arms to relax the three Jiao and your internal systems which will help to harmonize your Qi and blood.It accelerates the metabolic rates of your organs and prevents them from sinking. Through stretching, your body and joints will increase inflexibility and shoulder pain and cervical spondylosis will be prevented.
The first movement can be divided into the following steps:
- Move your hands downwards in front of your body with your palms facing upwards,joining your hands together, fingers crossed with each other. Look straight ahead.
- Straighten your knees, raise your hands to chest-level, raise your arms over your head while keeping your palms facing upwards, lift your head and look towards your palms.
- Raise your palms until your arms are straight, tuck in your chin, look straight ahead, hold this position.
- Bend your knees slightly, lower your arms, hold your hands in front of your stomach with your palms facing upwards
- One repetition includes one complete movement upwards and downwards. Repeat the complete movement 6 times.
Tips: While you raise your arms upwards, you have to stretch your body and pause for a short period. When lowering your arms, relax your waist and drop your hips. When sinking your shoulders, relax your wrists and fingers and straighten your body.
Please be aware of the following mistakes:
- When you look towards your palms, make sure you lift your head completely.
- Do not relax your arms when you raise them
This movement is similar to stretching in general, so when you take a break from work, you can stand up and complete this exercise in a short space of time.
In the next blog, I will introduce you to the second and third stages of the Eight Silken Movements – “Stretch out on both sides as if shooting a bow and arrow” and “Life up your arms to heal your spleen and stomach.” For all health lovers, please follow my blog posts for more information.
The Upper Jiao refers to the body part above the thoracic diaphragm which includes the lungs and the heart;the Middle Jiao refers to the area that lies below the thoracic diaphragm and above the belly button, including the spleen and the stomach; The Lower Jiao refers to the area found below the belly button including the liver, kidneys, intestines, and bladder.
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