Chi Gung Introduction

 

Short History

The tradition of Chi Gung allegedly goes back roughly 4.000 years to central China near the Yellow River where someone noticed that a variety of exercises and dances which caused the muscles and joints to heat up and many symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism disappeared.

The first book on Chi Gung was written during the early 700 BC, called The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine. It lists a variety of breathing and stretching exercises as well as mental visualisations that were supposed to keep people healthier.

Around 380 BC the Jade Pendant Inscriptions of Chi Direction were recorded and soon after Hua Tuo created exercises called the Five Animal Play (monkey, bird, deer, bear and tiger) that taught people how to maintain health by mimicking animals. Numerous other masters created their own styles and refined old ones.

Types of Chi

There are 3 primary types of chi:

  • Heaven Chi
  • Earth Chi
  • Human Chi

Heaven Chi involves energy of the universe, eg the sun, Earth Chi that of land, sea, wind, plants and animals and Human Chi is obviously ours. Heaven Chi influences Earth Chi and they both in turn influence Human Chi. With practice it is possible to partially influence both Earth and Heaven Chi.

The Pathways

According to traditional understanding, chi travels through the body along a series of 12 meridians. This flow is based on a 24 hour cycle as well as on the seasons of the year. The meridians follow pathways that correspond to the major nervous system.

In addition to these meridians there are 2 main vessels, one travelling down the centre of the front of your body and the other going up the centre of your back. Chi Gung is used to increase and decrease the flow of energy, so these pathways are not blocked.

Meridians

Chi flows through the body in a series of meridians which consist of eight vessels and twelve channels. Vessels are like lakes, reservoirs of chi that fill and empty as the chi flows. Channels are like rivers that connect the vessels.

The twelve meridians are symmetrical on the right and left sides of the body and all are connected with each other. Chi begins its flow in the lungs, then travels to the intestines, from there to the stomach on to the spleen, then to the heart and the small intestine, next comes bladder and kidneys. After this it flows to the pericardium and the sanjiau (triple burner). Finally it moves to the gall, liver and back to the lungs where it starts the circle again.

The most important meridians are the Ren Mai - the conception vessel and the Du Mai - the governing vessel.
The Ren Mai runs down the front of the body, starting from below the eyes, around the mouth to the chest, to the abdomen and between the legs to the perineum.
The Du Mai goes from the perineum to the tail bone to the back of the head, over the top of the head, down the front of the face and ends near the canines in the upper jaw.

Benefits

Chi Gung can be used for numerous purposes. Usually people are interested in leading healthier lives or healing. All too frequently you can find people who start it just because they think it's exotic and they may find their reason of life. Those can easily be identified by their fluffy bunny look.

Anyway, actual benefits are:

  • Healing Power:
    Chi will move more smoothly through your body and by smoothing this flow, the body has a greater chance of healing itself. When you have more practice you can direct your chi flow into specific body parts speeding up the healing process locally. Also healing of others is a possibility.
  • Fitness:
    Chi Gung is a great addition to any training program. As breath control is an integral part of Chi Gung, you should notice increased energy, strength, coordination and awareness just by breathing correctly. Also the increased energy can be converted to strength, endurance and flexibility which means you can train harder and longer.
  • Personal Defence:
    A balanced body and mind is pretty hard to manipulate.
  • Improved Sex:
    Now comes the interesting part. Last longer, exchange energy with your partner etc. Have fun
  • Longevity:
    A balanced body lives usually longer. Barring accidents of course.
  • Spirituality:
    Control your emotions, get in tune with creation, general understanding etc.

Regulations

To let the chi flow smoothly you have to learn how to relax your mind and body and how to breathe correctly. Of the three, the mind is the most important as it directly influences the other two.

  • A relaxed mind is calm and you are able to think clearly and concentrate fully.
  • To relax your body you need to pay close attention to your muscles.
  • Relaxed breathing means that your breathing is slow and smooth, coordinated with both body and mind.

Once you have learned to relax those three you are able to monitor your chi and control it.

Rooting, Centring and Balance

Additionally you need to learn how to root, centre and balance yourself.

Rooting is concerned with how stable you are. By rooting you lower your centre of gravity by bending your legs slightly. The legs should still be fairly relaxed.

The centre of your body is the Dan Tien, located approximately two fingers width above your navel.

Balancing is a combination of both relaxation and centring.

Raising Chi

There are two basic ways to increase your chi supply solitary:

  • Wai Dan - a series of physical exercises
  • Nei Dan - the use of mind

Wai Dan involves using physical postures to create a surplus of chi in your arms and legs and therefore is obviously the easiest method and a good place to start.
The chi building up during those exercises removes tensions or blockages that are in the body which then enables the chi to flow freely again.

Wai Dan offers two kinds of practices, the still Wai Dan and the Moving Wai Dan. In Still Wai Dan you obviously hold one posture for some time while you relax your muscles. Moving Wai Dan involves tensing and relaxing of muscle groups as you move positions, there should be as little tension in your muscles as possible.

Nei Dan raises chi by mental effort only. This makes it harder to learn for beginners as it takes longer to identify the feeling of chi and requires a greater degree of control and patience. You start building chi by breathing exercises and once you have raised a sufficient amount you move through your body by using your mind.

 

 

 

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