Chinese Breathing: Medical Qi Gong


Translation

Qi: breath, life, vitality, wind, energy, strength.
Gong: Practice, exercise, discipline.

 


Explanation

The primary stimulus for Qi Gong (Ch’i Kung) was the search for improved health and longevity, with the ultimate aim of immortality. The records show that exercises to aid in the cultivation of "Qi" (energy) date back to the Shang Dynasty (16th-11th centuries BC). The actual mention of a "Qi Gong practice" first appears in the fourth century AD, during the Han Dynasty. The Taoist, Buddhist, Confucian, Medical and Martial disciplines all employ unique versions of Qi Gong.

Qi Gong is the Traditional Chinese Medicine equivalent of Pranyama. A Qi Gong practice can produce a myriad of beneficial effects, of which the most common are preventing and curing diseases, strengthening the constitution, and prolonging life. Qi Gong exercise requires one to relax, to be calm, natural and free from distractions, so that it can remove stress and dispel tension. It helps to create flow in the meridians to establish harmony between vital energy and blood, to balance between Yin and Yang, and improve coordination of the nervous system, so that the cerebral cortex can be enhanced. Qi Gong helps to reduce fundamental metabolism, increase the capacity of storing energy, apply massage to the abdomen and improve appetite and enhances digestion. This practice works both directions at once, from the outside to the inside like acupuncture and from the inside to the outside like herbal medicine—a total body and mind experience.

Medical Qi Gong involves breathing exercises in combination with meditation. The focus is replacing stuck energy with flow, increasing confidence and enhancing the spirit; this is expressed through what is known as the "the inner smile". This involves smiling outwardly and inwardly at the same time in positive acceptance of oneself and all other sentient beings. Spirituality is also expressed when one offers a blessing of loving kindness to all sentient beings at the end of each exercise session. In cultivating good health, we contribute to one another and fulfill our universal human responsibility.

 

Practice

Four breathing exercises are the basic building blocks of this ancient TCM practice:

1. (Yin) inhale, suspend breath, exhale

2. (Yang) inhale, exhale sigh, drift breath

3. (Reinforcing Yin): inhale, suspend breath, inhale again and exhale

4. (Reinforcing Yang): inhale, exhale drift breath, wait, exhale drift breath

Concentration exercises such as the Small and Big Circles serve to move Qi down the Conception Vessel extra meridian (from midline down to the anus) and up the Governor Vessel extra meridian (from anus up the back midline to the top of the head). There are also various posture/movement exercises involving both breathing and concentration.

At more advanced levels, basic medical Qi Gong breathing is supplemented with several nostril breathing exercises and there are additional concentration exercises involving moving Qi around each of the 12 regular meridians (Lung, Large Intestine, Stomach, Spleen, Heart, Small Intestine, Urinary Bladder, Kidney, Pericardium, Triple Energizer, Gallbladder and Liver). Moreover, phonation is used to reinforce the circle exercises. For example, at CV 17, the Influential Point for Qi—(which in yogic terms is the Anahata Chakra)—the sound "yam" is vocalized and the colour dark blue is visualized. Chakras are important gates of vital energy in both TCM and traditional Ayurvedic medicine. At higher levels of medical Qi Gong, calligraphic artwork expresses Qi flow and creativity through the brush with ink on paper.

Classically, it is recommended that practitioners should not eat or drink (especially alcohol) within an hour before a Qi Gong session. When exercising, participants might like to face north or south in line with the earth's magnetic field, and should ideally exercise at the same time of day and during the same days of the week.

 

 

Yin

Effect

Increases yin (feminine) energy

Practice

Choose a comfortable sitting position on a chair or on the floor; take off glasses, shoes, watch etc. Legs and feet should be the same distance apart as shoulders, feet slightly medially turned. Tailbone down and slightly tucked under with spine straight. Lightly tilt the head, relax the face and search for an inner smile.
Males: Place hands at CV.6 (2nd chakra), palms up, left hand under right hand, thumbs touching (Taoist position).
Females: Place hands at CV.6 (2nd chakra), palms up, right hand under left hand, thumbs touching. (Taoist position).
Elbows face straight out to the sides.

1. Place the tip of the tongue on the hard palette (GV.28). Both inhalation and exhalation are through the nose.

2. Inhale breath-energy through the 6th/Ajna Chakra (GV.24.5 or third eye), down the front of the body (Ren Meridian) to the 3rd/Manipura Chakra (CV.6).

3. Suspend the breath (by gently attempting to take in more breath), feeling/seeing the Qi accumulate. Lower your tongue.

4. Exhale slowly and evenly, feeling/seeing the Qi intensify at CV.6 (Sea of Energy).

5. Rub hands together until warm, gently place inside heel of hands to eye sockets, then move hands down face to Namaste. Inner Smile: Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Yang

Effect

Increases yang (masculine) energy

Practice

Choose a comfortable sitting position on a chair, or on the floor, take off glasses, shoes, watch etc. Legs and feet same distance apart as shoulders, feet slightly medially turned. Tailbone down and slightly tucked under with spine straight. Lightly tilt the head, relax the face and search for an inner smile.
Males: Place hands at CV.6 (2nd chakra), palms up, left hand under right hand, thumbs touching (Taoist position).
Females: Place hands at CV.6 (2nd chakra), palms up, right hand under left hand, thumbs touching. (Taoist position).
Elbows face straight out to the sides.

1. Place the tip of the tongue on the hard palette (GV.28). Both inhalation and exhalation are through the nose.

2. Inhale breath-energy through the 6th/Ajna Chakra (GV.24.5 or third eye), down the front of the body (Ren Meridian) to the Manipura Chakra (CV.6).

3. Lower your tongue. Exhale slowly and evenly, feeling/seeing the Qi intensify.

4. Drift the breath (by gently continuing to exhale), feeling/seeing the Qi accumulate at CV.6 (Sea of Energy).

5. Rub hands together until warm, gently place inside heel of hands to eye sockets, then move hands down face to Namaste. Inner Smile: Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Reinforcing Yin

Effect

Increases yin energy more strongly

Practice

Choose a comfortable sitting position on a chair, or on the floor, take off glasses, shoes, watch etc. Legs and feet same distance apart as shoulders, feet slightly medially turned. Tailbone down and slightly tucked under with spine straight. Lightly tilt the head, relax the face and search for an inner smile.
Males: Place hands at CV.6 (2nd chakra), palms up, left hand under right hand, thumbs touching (Taoist position).
Females: Place hands at CV.6 (2nd chakra), palms up, right hand under left hand, thumbs touching (Taoist position).
Elbows face straight out to the sides.

1. Place the tip of the tongue on the hard palette (GV.28). Both inhalation and exhalation are through the nose. The following steps occur during a single inhalation.

2. Inhale breath-energy through the 6th/Ajna Chakra (GV 24.5 or third eye), down the front of the body (Ren Meridian) to the 5th/Throat Chakra (CV.22 or Heaven Rushing Out)—Suspend and Accumulate.

3. Inhale as you move to the 4th/Heart Chakra (CV.17 or Heart Palace/Sea of Tranqulity)—Suspend and Accumulate.

4. Inhale as you move to the 3rd/Manipura Chakra (CV.12 or Center of Power)—Suspend and Accumulate.

5. Inhale as you move to the 2nd/Swadhisthana Chakra (CV.6 or Sea of Energy)—Suspend and Accumulate.

6. Lower your tongue. Exhale slowly and evenly, feeling/seeing the Qi intensify at CV.6.

7. Rub hands together until warm, gently place inside heel of hands to eye sockets, then move hands down face to Namaste. Inner Smile: Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Reinforcing Yang

Effect

Increases yang energy more strongly

Practice

Choose a comfortable sitting position on a chair, or on the floor, take off glasses, shoes, watch etc. Legs and feet same distance apart as shoulders, feet slightly medially turned. Tailbone down and slightly tucked under with spine straight. Lightly tilt the head, relax the face and search for an inner smile.
Males: Place hands at CV.6 (2nd chakra), palms up, left hand under right hand, thumbs touching (Taoist position).
Females: Place hands at CV.6 (2nd chakra), palms up, right hand under left hand, thumbs touching (Taoist position).
Elbows face straight out to the sides.

1. Place the tip of the tongue on the hard palette (GV.28).

2. Inhale energy through the Ajna Chakra (third eye), down the front of the body (Ren Meridian) to the Manipura (2nd) Chakra (CV.6).

3. Lower your tongue. Exhale slowly and evenly, feeling the Qi intensify at CV.6 (Sea of Energy).

4. Hold the breath (by attempting to take in more breath), feeling the Qi accumulate at CV.6 (Sea of Energy).

5. Without inhaling, exhale slowly and evenly, feeling the Qi intensify at CV.6 (Sea of Energy).

6. Rub hands together until warm, gently place inside heel of hands to eye sockets, then move hands down face to Namaste. Inner Smile: Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Small Circle (Microcosmic Orbit: Engaging Yin)

Effect

Increases Yin and facilitates the circulation of Qi down the main front-body (Ren) meridian, and up the main back-body (Du) meridian. Conducive to overall physical, energetic, mental and spiritual well-being.

Practice

  1. Place the tip of the tongue on the hard palette (GV28).
  2. Inhale Qi into the Third Eye Chakra, hold breath, accumulate Qi. During the second part of the inhalation, move Qi down to the space between the bottom of the nose and upper lip (GV28). Hold breath, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify.
  3. During inhalation, move Qi from GV28 to the Throat Chakra. Hold breath, accumulate Qi. Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  4. During inhalation, move Qi from the Throat to the Heart Chakra (CV17). Hold breath, accumulate Qi, Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  5. During inhalation, move Qi from CV17 to the Solar Plexus Chakra (CV12). Hold breath, accumulate Qi, Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  6. During inhalation, move Qi from CV12 to the 2nd Chakra (CV6, or Sea of Energy). Hold breath, accumulate Qi. Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  7. During inhalation, move Qi from the CV6 across to the small of the back (GV4). Hold breath, accumulate Qi. Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  8. During inhalation, move Qi from GV4 up the Du Meridian to the back of the Heart Chakra (Du11). Hold breath, accumulate Qi. Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  9. During inhalation, move Qi from Du11 to the notch at the base of the neck (GV16). Hold breath, accumulate Qi, Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  10. During inhalation, move Qi from GV to the Crown of the Head (GV20). Hold breath, accumulate Qi. Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  11. During inhalation, move Qi from GV20 to Third Eye Chakra. Hold breath, accumulate Qi. Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  12. Repeat Steps 2 - 6.
  13. Rub hands together until warm, gently place inside heel of hands to eye sockets, then move hands down face to Namaste. Inner Smile: Thank you.

 

 

 

Large Circle (Macrocosmic Orbit: Engaging Yang)

Effect

Increases Yang; facilitates Qi circulation down the front-body (Ren) meridian and up the back-body (Du) meridian. Conducive to overall physical, energetic, mental and spiritual well-being.

Practice

  1. Place the tip of the tongue on the hard palette (GV28).
  2. Inhale Qi into the Third Eye Chakra, hold breath, accumulate Qi. During the second part of the inhalation, move Qi down to the space between the bottom of the nose and upper lip (GV28). Hold breath, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify.
  3. During inhalation, move Qi from GV28 to the Throat Chakra. Hold breath, accumulate Qi. Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  4. During inhalation, move Qi from the Throat to the Heart Chakra (CV17). Hold breath, accumulate Qi, Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  5. During inhalation, move Qi from CV17 to the Solar Plexus Chakra (CV12). Hold breath, accumulate Qi, Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  6. During inhalation, move Qi from CV12 down to the 2nd Chakra (CV6, or Dan Tien). Hold breath, accumulate Qi. Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  7. During inhalation, move Qi from the Dan Tien down to the perineum (GV4). Hold breath, accumulate Qi. Inhale more, accumulate Qi, Exhale, intensify Qi.
  8. During inhalation, move Qi from GV4 up the Du Meridian to the Coccyx. Hold breath, accumulate Qi. Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  9. During inhalation, move Qi from the Coccyx to the small of the back (GV4 or Kidney Point). Hold breath, accumulate Qi. Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  10. During inhalation, move Qi from GV4 to the back of the Heart Chakra (Du11). Hold breath, accumulate Qi. Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  11. During inhalation, move Qi from Du11 to the back of the Throat Chakra (C7). Hold breath, accumulate Qi. Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  12. During inhalation, move Qi from C7 to the notch at the base of the neck (GV16, or Jade Pillow). Hold breath, accumulate Qi, Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  13. During inhalation, move Qi from GV16 to the Crown of the Head (GV20). Hold breath, accumulate Qi. Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  14. During inhalation, move Qi from GV20 to Third Eye Chakra. Hold breath, accumulate Qi. Inhale more, accumulate Qi. Exhale, intensify Qi.
  15. Repeat Steps 2 - 6.
  16. Rub hands together until warm, gently place inside heel of hands to eye sockets, then move hands down face to Namaste. Inner Smile: Thank you.