8 Common Qigong Exercises
One of the best qigong exercises to get started with is also what may the most common exercises called the “eight brocades”. In romanized Chinese, they are also known as Ba Duan Jin which means eight pieces of silk. The silk that is referred to is the smoothness of the body and energy felt after performing these deceptively simple movements. A few minutes a day is all it takes to reap the health benefits of increased energy flow.
About the Ba Duan Jin qigong exercises
These eight qigong exercises are what are called “medical” qigong, as opposed to military or spiritually oriented movements. These, like other qigong movements, are intended to regulate chi movement, providing unblocked flow of energy throughout the body. The primary means of this energy flow is by way of the “meridians” that act as “highways” for the energy to move along within the body. Each of the eight qigong exercises correspond to one of the meridians that are enervated by these specific movements. And, of course, each movement comes with an incredibly awkward, but descriptive name.
Who can tell exactly what Two Hands Reach Skyward, Open the Bow as Though Shooting the Buzzard, or Separate Heaven and Earth are meant to describe? Or the equally cryptic qigong exercise names Wise Owl Gazes Backwards, Sway the Head and Wag the Tail, and Two Hands Hold the Feet. And there are the final two descriptively named qigong exercises of Clench the Fists and Gaze Intently, and Bouncing on the Toes. All joking aside, once you know the movements, the names do make some sense to even the most skeptical Westerner. For example, Wise Owl Gazes Backwards is a qigong exercise where you rotate your head as if you were looking backwards over your each shoulder. Separate Heaven and Earth is where you raise one hand as if pushing upward and lower the other as if pushing downward — as if to separate the heavens and the earth.
Three keys to qigong exercises — including the Eight Brocades
If we were to strip away everything from qigong exercises that is not central, we might wind up with these three keys: movement, breathing, and focus. This key of “movement” is not only about the bodily motion needed to perform the exercises. Movement also refers to energy flowing through your system as a result of these bodily motions. This is helped along by breathing with intent. This means timing your inhale and exhale so that they align with the movements of energy and the movements of the body. In order to begin breathing with the movements, qigong exercises require intent focus. This focus continues throughout your qigong play allowing the movements to be smooth and supple. This cycle of movement-breath-focus-movement continues to provide more and more benefit from your time spent with qigong.
I highly suggest that you find a local teacher to guide your through these movements. If not, then find a quality video in order to follow along. And, if all else fails, you can find the full description of these qigong exercises in various books.