Maintaining health by preventing disease is a fundamental concept in TCM. Health Qigong, the practice of cultivating Qi, aids in illness prevention by balancing and harmonizing the Qi within and outside of our bodies. Qi can be understood as energy, air, breath, and strength. Qi permeates everywhere and connects everything. Knowing about Qi helps us understand Health Qigong.
First, let’s look at the Qi in nature. Light and heat, the energy from the sun, are the sources of life on Earth. The sun’s energy is called Yang Qi in Chinese. The Earth and the sun are connected by light and heat (Yang Qi). At the same time, the wind, or the movement of air (Qi), connects the energy (Qi) of different areas. The butterfly effect indicates a subtle correlation in nature. The butterfly effect was discovered by theoretical meteorologist Edward Lorenz and tells us that minute motions in the atmosphere can have a large-scale impact on other systems. A well-known expression for the butterfly effect is that the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas. Human beings are no exception to the interconnectedness of nature. The global pandemic is a vivid example of the strong association between all living beings.
In our bodies, we also have vital energy like the sun’s energy, which is the driving force behind our activities. This vital energy is also called Yang Qi. Sufficient Yang Qi in the body enables us to prevent disease and have a light and cheerful mood. The flow of Yang Qi weaves different parts of the body’s functions together. Health Qigong exercise is designed to improve the smooth flow of Yang Qi (vital energy) in our bodies.
Ba Duan Jin (Eight Brocades), literally meaning “eight pieces of brocades,” is a health qigong exercise. As in a brocade, where soft, flexible silk threads are crossed, twisted, and joined, the name “Eight Brocades” reminds us of the interdependence of nature as well as the interrelationship of body parts. Eight Brocades has eight sets of motion. These motions improve the functions of the body and increase our strength (Qi power), both physically and psychologically. There are eight verses that describe these movements:
- Hold up the sky with two hands to manage the Triple Burner.
- Draw the bow left and right like shooting a buzzard.
- Lift one arm to tone the spleen and stomach.
- Look back for relief from fatigue and impairments.
- Shake the head and swing the tail to remove the Heart-fire.
- Reach the feet with both hands to strengthen the kidneys and lower back.
- Clench the fist with glaring eyes to increase strength.
- Extend the back and lower the heels to dissipate disease.
Far or near, known or unknown, Qi connects us. The Eight Brocades reflect the idea of nature’s interconnection and lead us to maintain health from the root—nourishing Yang Qi, the vital energy. Be delighted, and be well!
- Health Qigong Management Centre of General Administration of Sport of China, Health Qigong – Ba Duan Jin (Beijing: People’s Sports Publishing House, 2005).
- VCD, Health Qigong – Ba Duan Jin (Beijing: Beijing Sport University Audio & Video Press).
- Wikipedia, Butterfly effect.
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