Tiger Play: the Form

The Five-animal Play is a physical exercise, and the first step we need to focus on in the practice are the postures and the forms of movement. It’s believed that if a posture is not right, the Qi will not flow smoothly.

Tiger Play is the first play of the Five-animal Qigong. Tigers are incredibly strong and are able to move with flexibility. We should practice Tiger Play with a combination of strength and flexibility. While standing, be still like a mountain that cannot be shaken. Be aware of your posture. Standing should be done with the head and body straight and the chest and shoulders relaxed to allow for easy breathing. While moving, move like a thunderbolt without obstruction.

The Hand Gesture: Tiger Paws

Tiger paws are strong and sharp. Visualize our fingers like paws of a tiger, bring energy and strength to them with eyes wide open.

Guidelines:

  • Eyes follow movement of hands 
  • Breathe in as arms raise up overhead, breathe out hands down 
  • Raise arms like lifting heavy objects and fully extend the body. Lower arms like pulling rings down and direct Qi to Dantian, around 3 finger widths below the navel. Keep body straight up, no arching back

Benefits:

  • The extension of the body and arms up and down coordinated with breathing helps promote Qi circulation, improves function of Sanjiao (triple energizers), which relates to water metabolism in our body 
  • Strengthens fingers. Improves blood circulation. Changes in hand gesture together with glaring eyes can effectively enhance the function of the liver

Guidelines:

  • Fully extend spine with hips backward and arms forward with paws 
  • Squat down then arch back before pounce and pounce in an imposing manner like a ferocious tiger 
  • Qi comes from Dantian (or core). Demonstrate strength with paws
  • Be aware of our own body conditions, reduce the intensity when needed

Benefits:

  • Extending and arching the spine improves flexibility and suppleness of the spine 
  • The spine movement also balances the Yin side of the body – the front, and the Yang side of the body – the back, and activates the flow of Qi and blood 
  • Prevents lower back issues 

Notes:

  1. Health Qigong Management Centre of General Administration of Sport of China, Health Qigong – Wu Qin Xi [健身氣功 -五禽戲] (Beijing: People’s Sports Publishing House, 2005).
  2. VCD, Health Qigong – Wu Qin Xi [健身氣功 -五禽戲] (Beijing: Beijing Sport University Audio & Video Press).

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