Practicing Techniques of Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing

★The force applied should be moderate

One of the features of Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing is the limber “bone-pulling” movements which can stretch the tendons. In other words the muscles in all parts of the body and tendons, ligaments, and joint capsules at all joints are pulled to improve the ductility and strength of the muscles and tendons of the human body and improve the moving functions of the bonds, joints, and muscles.

For example, in Nine Ghosts Drawing Saber, both hands are respectively kept still at the Yuzhen Gate on the back of the head and the Jiaji Gate on the back and both arms open and close the chest like bird wings. This movement can enhance the strength and flexibility of the chest muscles. This can promote the respiratory functions and improve life quality of old people suffering from declining respiratory functions due to advanced age and patients inflicted by chronic dyspnea.

Should movements of Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing be done with as great as possible forces? No.

There are specific requirements in the instructions for the movements of Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing. In other words, the movements of the exercise should alternate firmness with gentleness, contain both emptiness and solidity, “integrate firmness into gentleness”, and “integrate gentleness into firmness”. In other words, the forces used to practice the movements of Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing should be moderate.

Therefore, in the exercise of Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing, the pushing-outward movement of both arms of Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 2, the arm-stretching movement of Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 3, the pulling movement of “Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails”, the forward-stretching and outward-pushing movements of both arms in Displaying Paw-Style Palms like a White Crane Spreading Its Wings, the hand-pushing and palm-flipping movements of “Three Plates Falling on the Floor”, and weight-lifting movements all have to be done with moderate forces. In “Pulling Bones and Stretching Tendons”, the force applied must not be abrupt or rigid. Otherwise the abrupt and rigid forces may case physical discomforts and other untoward reactions after exercise for old people having high blood pressure, practicers with weak constitution, and patients of scapulohumeral periarthritis.

★Respiration should be natural

The respiratory movements in Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing exercise should be always dominated by natural respiration. Reverse or obverse abdominal respiration or conscious initiative respiratory movements are not adopted in the exercise. Why is that?

This is because the reverse or obverse abdominal respiration is mainly based on the systole and diastole of abdominal muscles which cause the abdomen to recede and hump regularly. And Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing is a movement-guided exercise dominated by the change of tendons and bones. The changes of its movements are irregular. And some movements require halts at some certain postures in order to enhance the tendon-changing and bone-changing effect of movement Daoyin.

Therefore in Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing, the practicer is required to maintain the involuntary natural respiration and should not intentionally combine reverse or obverse abdominal respiration with the movement Daoyin of Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing lest untoward reactions are caused.

Such cases have been encountered before in actual teaching activities. As the practicers had already built up a certain mastery of Qigong practice, they made quite quick headway in the learning of technical movements during the teaching process. However, while doing the exercise after they mastered the movements of Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing, a few trainees felt dizziness. Later investigation revealed that they had done other exercises by coordinating respiration with Daoyin, and such Daoyin was regular repetition-based exercise. While practicing Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing, they involuntarily applied their past breath-regulation experience to this exercise. Even though they did sense the discordance between respiration and movements, they attributed it to their inadequate mastery of the exercise and still persisted in breath regulation in the practice of Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing. From this we can see that the root cause for their dizziness was their forced respiration which resulted in disorder of respiratory movements and anoxia.

Then why such a result was caused by the active breath regulation? We might as well adduce an example of the movements of the exercise.

In Displaying Paw-Style Palms like a White Crane Spreading Its Wings, both hands are erected at Yunmen Acupoint and both shoulders are extended backward. During natural inhalation, the chest of the human body is actively expanding and the muscles in the abdomen change with the active movement of the thorax in a relaxed manner. The intra-pulmonary pressure at the chest will rise in the form of negative pressure. And if obverse abdominal respiration is used instead in this case, conflicts will be easily caused between the changes in movement and the respiration. Although the inhalation of obverse abdominal respiration is also done with a relaxed abdomen, the diaphragms between the chest and abdomen will move downward and the lower abdomen will hump. And the muscles and the thorax will be in a relaxed, passive state of motion. This movement between the pectoral and abdominal muscles is different and, if not properly used, will easily result in discordance between movement Daoyin and respiration, disturb respiration, and thus affect the exercising effect of Health Qigong.

Another example is the head-lifting, shoulder-squaring, waist-slumping, and tail-raising movements of Swinging the Tail. During the head-shaking and hip-swaying movement centering the waist, breath regulation with reverse or obverse abdominal respiration is actually a very difficult task to do.

Therefore respiration must be as natural as possible in Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing exercise. During inhalation, the practicer should give up the awareness of active inhalation and passively and naturally inhale by following the changes in the movements of the exercise and the expansion of the thorax. The amount of air drawn in each inhalation and the speed of inhalation should be in accordance with the natural changes of the movements. During exhalation, the practicer should also naturally exhale according to the changes in the movements and the contraction of the thorax. This will not only prevent the suffocation or short breath caused by discordance between movements and respiration, but also promote the mental serenity and physical relaxation of the practicer through the natural respiration. As a result the constantly changing postures of the body will become more and more harmonious in order to change the tendons and bones and promote health.

★The mind should be concentrated

The greatest feature of Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing is its tending-changing and bone-changing effect. It is a Health Qigong exercise with body Daoyin as the main form of expression. Although it is not a bodily activity guided by the mind or passive activity guided by definitive mental activities, it lays great emphasis on the mental activities during the bodily movements.

Any amateur of Health Qigong knows that during Health Qigong exercise, the most elementary requirement and common sense is that the practicer should both control his own mind and prevent it from being distracted by other thoughts, and protect his mind from being affected by the diverse surrounding environment. Tangseng, a character in the book Pilgrimage to the West, always keeps an eye on Zhubajie, who is quite susceptible to lust, and Sunwukong, who was born with a tendency to be active. Tangseng has to control and restrain them by recite the scriptures. It is also the foremost requirement of Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing to relax the spirit and unite form and thought. It is not allowed to be absent-minded or obsessed.

The problem of thought and mind control in Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing has occurred in the Health Qigong classes administered to undergraduates majoring in traditional national sports. In the early stage of their Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing exercise, the students were quite focused. But as they progressed to the sixth or seventh routine, some of them could no longer stay focused. The same problem occurred during the overall exercise of Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing. When about 1/3 of the exercise was completed, some students became less concentrated or occasionally went astray.

Why did students show such signs during Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing exercise? There are two possible causes. One is that students’ attention was exhausted by the continuous learning. This was probably attributable to the students' lack of the perseverance to overcome fatigue. Another is that students majoring in traditional national sports were mostly engaged in sports like free combat, Wushu routines, and Chinese wrestling. Most of them were restless by nature and their classes were carried out in places surrounded by other sword, spear, fist, and stick classes which were quite distracting especially for restless students like them.

Then what is the situation with the mind control and regulation in common people who are practicing Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing? Beginners or people subject to the pressure of life will also suffer from distracting thoughts and wandering mind. This is a trouble that must be solved by all practicers of Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing and must be carefully dealt with. It should be noted that mental activities and bodily Daoyin are a unity of opposites.

With regard to the form, Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing is a health-preserving exercise dominated by body Daoyin which exercises the tendons and bones. And from the perspective of psychological regulation, Health Qigong exercise can effectively control the mental activities of the practicers and thus influence the activities of the nervous system of the human body. And functions of the nervous system are of vital importance for the regulation of the life activities of the human body. Therefore the effective regulation of the mental activities of the Health Qigong practicer is a critical part or core of the fundamental technical framework of breath regulation, body regulation, and mind regulation of Health Qigong, just as the saying goes: “as Bodhidharma came from the west, he did not bring with him any book but completely relied on his mind.” If we pay no attention to the control and regulation of mind and fail to concentrate in the practice of Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing, our thoughts will wander aloft and Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing will no longer seem like a Health Qigong exercise.

Therefore the poor concentration will affect the exercising effect of Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing, causing the movements to lack gentleness in firmness or firmness in gentleness. The movements will be too rigid or lax and the movements of the body will not fully “pull bones” or “stretch tendons”. The due influences on the motor tissues of the human body will be lost and motor functions of the human body will not be improved as expected. As a result the mental and physical activities will no longer have the expected influences on the sympathetic nerves and parasympathetic nerves of the vegetative nerves under the cerebral cortex and the due efficacy of the nerve-humor-immunity process will be lost or diminished.

2010-12-10 13:05:00 Chinese Health Qigong Association