Temple Blog Traditional Chinese health preservation exercises
The internal organs have specific functions which are different from the whole body. For example, the spleen organ circulates the blood, controls the transformation of food and water, and relates to the limbs, mouth and muscles. Based on the five Elements theory, internal influence and restrictions exist, such as creating, overreacting, and destroying the organs. Damage to one body organ can affect the five-sense organs and the nine orifices. Spleen dysfunction manifests as poor appetite, anaemia, wasting, and diarrhoea.
Qi, the vital energy
Qi, the vital energy, explains the human body’s structure and life activities. It can be seen in winter as the white breath exhaled from the mouth.
- The breath relies on the pectoral Qi;
- The food intake depends on the stomach Qi;
- The growth and body development rely on the kidney Qi;
- The immune system and protection depend on the defensive Qi.
Qi concept is present in all the traditional Chinese health preservation exercises. During the Warring States, Qi was considered a method to promote the flow of Qi combined with breathing. When a person breathes deeply, a large amount of Qi enters the body. The Qi stretches downwards to become rooted. Breathing out will lead the Qi to grow upwards to initiate the Yin and Yang movement. The Yang energy flows upward while the Yin energy flows downwards. Following a proper exercise rule, one can become healthy by allowing the Qi to flow and guiding the Qi in the body. Going against this path, one can become ill.
To exercise correctly, one can consider the following:
- Personal health;
- Type of exercise;
- Amount of movement without causing over-exertion and body damage;
- The intensity of exercise;
- Frequency of exercise;
- Proper schedule;
- Duration of the exercise period.
Traditional Chinese health preservation exercises, compared to modern sports science, focus on prevention rather than treatment of the injury. The main action points for each movement are mastery of the movements, preparatory postures, warm-up, and stretching. It is crucial to pay attention to posture to avoid injuries. If pains, such as knee pain (most frequent during the practice), one must adjust the posture by changing the centre of gravity and the position to be higher. If the pain persists, the best is to stop the practice to massage and relax the knee joints and the quadriceps. If one suffers from knee osteoarthritis, an beneficial alternative to practising traditional Chinese health preservation exercises is to practice while sitting, such as Shi Er Duan Jin Healing Qigong. Medical Qigong can treat knee pain by hitting and patting the medial side of the knee with the palm 1000 times.
In traditional Chinese medicine, knee pain is correlated to kidney, stomach, and gallbladder health. Herbal treatment can be taken as well as acupuncture (or pressing the acupoint) to the following acupoints to improve:
- Yinlingquan (SP9 on the Spleen Meridian);
- Yanglingquan (GB34 on the Gallbladder Meridian);
- Xuehai (SP10 on the Spleen Meridian);
- Zusanli (ST36 on the Stomach Meridian).
Traditional Chinese health preservation exercises are based on the correlation between nature and humans. In traditional Chinese medicine, practice during the seasons is essential:
The best start for practice is when the sun rises to avoid the cold and wind from invading the body; Chui breathing can moisten the lungs and nourish the kidneys.
Weather changes in early spring quickly bring relapses of former ailments in older adults. Go to sleep late and wake up early to walk, massage the scalp and the body, and relax the mind; Xu breathing brightens the eyes.
Avoid having cold drinks or eating raw, cold or greasy in summer as it can impair the body’s vitality. Get up early at dawn when the air is refreshing, and practice deep breathing to exhale stale air and inhale fresh air. He breathing protects the heart.
Weather changes in autumn quickly bring relapses of former ailments or new diseases in older adults. Massage the limbs, tendons and joints to build the physique and guard against infection—Si breathing.
Hu breathing improves the digestive system functions, spleen and stomach in all seasons. Xi (Si 4) breathing clear away heat from the Triple Burner (Sanjiao).
One will naturally remain fit if one is always lighthearted, optimistic and willing to improve. Traditional Chinese medicine advises raising the Yang Qi in spring and summer and nourishing the Yin in the fall and winter. The best exercise time for Yang-deficient people is in the spring and summer in the morning, with sunshine for at least 30 minutes per session. On the other period times, one should do the exercise indoors. Avoid winter cold by keeping warm. Yin-deficient people should avoid extreme heat in summer. The lack of balance between Yin and Yang leads to illness. Therefore, to treat the disease first, one must address the balance between Yin and Yang.
Yin & Yang Balance
One of the best options to restore the Yin and Yang balance in the body is to practice Meihua Quan routines and stances because they include stillness with movement, slow movement with fast, flexible change to rigid, growing and declining, which leads to the dynamic of the Yin and Yang. The dynamic changes in the Yin and Yang will lead to changes in the body.
Traditional Chinese health preservation exercises combine the dual nature between medical treatment and movement. Qi flow, the pathways (meridians and collaterals) and the acupuncture points are the foundation of traditional Chinese health preservation exercises, the holism concept and treatment methods for preventing and improving diseases.
Be healthy. Live better.
Shifu Shi Yanjun