“Gain a wealth of knowledge for relaxing Mind, Body & Spirit” © Wu Wei Health, 2014
“Ancient Qi Gong practice for modern energetic medicine,” by Dr Davey Pinder.
For the upcoming Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Annual Conference (AACMAC) – Friday May 2nd, 2014.
The term Qi Gong roughly translates as ‘energy work.’ Qi Gong has four main applications: health, longevity, spiritual enlightenment and martial arts, and is renowned for its ability to assist the rebalancing of Yin and Yang within the body; especially with regards to emotions. The practice of Chinese Exercise Therapy (CET) is therefore of great assistance as a modern coping mechanism for stress and emotional imbalances, that could consequently reinforce our treatment aims when a client is away from the clinic.
Wu Qin Xi translates as ‘Five Animal Play’ and is a set of Qi Gong exercises developed during the glorious and peaceful Han Dynasty (202 B.C.E – 220 C.E.). The five animals are Tiger, Deer, Bear, Monkey and Crane. There are two exercises per animal, corresponding to the five Yin and five Yang internal organs (Zang Fu). This workshop will explains in detail how each exercise relates to Wu Xing (Five Element) theory that defines the various stages of transformation and cyclic changes of nature which regulate all life on earth, and how to prescribe appropriate and practical CET in your clinic.
Depending on your clients time management or relative interest, each of the following Qi Gong exercises can be modified or simplified while still containing the ‘essence’ of each Element. For example, prescribing upward stretches, the use of a squeeze ball and shouting twice per day for a Wood (Tiger) imbalance client is not only practical, it is more likely to be incorporated into their daily routine and possibly spark an interest to learn the full version at a later stage:
WOOD = LIV/GB, Season: Spring. Emotion = Anger/Frustration. Liver is responsible for free flow of Qi and storing of Xue. HUN – Ethereal Soul: Provides Shen with inspiration, creativity and a sense of direction in life.
1. Tiger reaches down to draw up Earth and reaches up to draw down Heaven, placing emphasis on grasping and stretching to activate and nourish the sinews via Liver Xue.
2. Rolling up through the spine stimulates Yin and Yang of both Ren and Du Mai activating the ‘Microcosmic Orbit’ and then stretching forward to show its claws. A slow ‘stalking’ forward bend with sudden roar (anger release) as Tiger catches its prey with vigor while standing on one leg, incorporating another important Wood trait – balance, while activating Jing Well points and opening PC-8 (Jueyin).
WATER = KID/BL, Season: Winter. Emotion = Fear. Kidney is the foundation of Yin and Yang and governs birth, growth, reproduction and development; while storing Jing and controlling Minister Fire. ZHI – Will Power: Intention and effort required to accomplish and persevere in life.
1. Twisting the torso from side to side opens the energy of one Kidney, while the other closes; creating a pump that regulates Yuan Qi via Chong Mai. The hand gesture replicating antler calms Shen and connects Kidney and Heart via Pericardium and Sanjiao channels; by keeping the middle fingers in touch with palms. The eyes are the ‘window’ to Shen, so the Deer smiles with joy as it turns to look at the medial malleolus of the back heel, also connecting Water and Fire.
2. Hunching the back in a convex fashion while presenting inverted antlers activates Microcosmic Orbit, while the gentle skip exemplifies the Deer’s fluid and playful nature.
EARTH = SP/ST, Season: Late Summer. Emotion = Worry/Pensiveness. Spleen is responsible for Transformation and Transportation of Gu Qi; basis for the formation of Qi and Xue. YI – Intellect: Ideas, applied thinking, memory and concentration, use of conceptual mind to exercise discernment and form intentions.
1. Circular abdominal massage using the entire upper torso oscillates the spine and warms and supports Spleen Yang to aid in digestion.
2. The Bear is cumbersome and its awkward traits are expressed by swinging the torso with open armpits, to prompt the Spleen’s close relationship with Heart and Liver, with gentle empty palms opening PC-8. Then raising the hip and shifting the leg forward with a straight knee and heavy stomp on the same side as the arm; activating Kidney Yang to support Spleen Yang’s ‘ripening and rotting’ function.
FIRE = HT/SI, Season: Summer. Emotion = Joy. Heart is the most important of the internal organs; housing Shen, governing and circulating Xue. SHEN – Mental and Spiritual Awareness: Incorporating Hun, Zhi, Yi and Po.
1. The Heart is forever moving like the flicker of a flame; Monkey suddenly lifts the hands with hooked palms towards the chest, shoulders rise up to the ears while balancing on the toes and looking to one side squeezing the Heart to pump Xue as you release down.
2. Moving the branch clears the mind to calm Shen and grasp the peach (Fruit of Heaven) with the thumb inside the palm to hold Hun within (grasping like Liver’s ability to hold and store Xue), lifting the back heal and activating Kidney to support Heart. Monkey is joyous as it finds the weight of the peach too heavy and in need of support from the other palm underneath.
METAL = LU/LI, Season: Autumn. Emotion = Sadness/Grief. Lung governs Qi and respiration, and controls the regulation of water passages. PO – Corporeal Soul: Physicality, sensations and feelings.
1. Arching the back in a concave fashion with the tailbone thrust out activates Microcosmic Orbit, as raised shoulders squeeze into the neck to pump Xue, while a beak is formed with both hands brought up to the chin. Arms are then brought backwards along with one leg to mimic gliding with an elongated spine.
2. Crane gently flapping its wings up and down regulates the ascending (Liver) and descending (Lung) functions of Qi. This rhythm created by the up and down movement of the body, the opening and closing of the arms and the in and out breath helps us adapt to the rhythmical changes of each season. The final upward stretch on one leg works the flanks and therefore the Liver and Gall Bladder to ‘balance’ with the Lungs.
Note: The Lungs are said to be ‘spoilt’ being the last organ to start working just after birth and are therefore fragile and sensitive to change, explaining why gentle exercise is preferred for longevity.