Wednesday, September 4, 2013

8 Exercises for Fitness, Healing, and Longevity - Part 3

Separating Heaven and Earth

Third Movement in the 8 Section Brocade Chi Kung

This movement will open up the six meridians that run through the hands and arms (heart, small intestine, triple warmer, pericardium, large intestine and lungs). It will also gently stretch the spleen and improve the functioning of your digestive system. And on an energetic level, you are mixing the energies of heaven and earth, a very powerful method to achieve wellness. Pay attention to the breathing. Note that when your hand reaches above your head, you are absorbing the energy from the heavens (Yang). The hand facing down in absorbing the energy from the earth (Yin). When you inhale and the hands come towards each other, you are mixing this energy in your body.
Research by Michael P. Garofalo

Starting Position:  Wu Ji from 

         
Movement Name:  Separating Heaven and Earth, Pressing Up to the Sky and Down to the Earth


Lift and step your left foot out to a shoulder width stance, feet parallel, arms at sides, hands on thighs.  

The right hand lifts up along your side and the palm faces down.

The left hand moves to the center of the waist, palm up.  

Inhale deeply and completely as you turn your left hand over so the palm faces your chest.  

Bring your left arm up so your hand moves up the middle of your chest.  


Slowly lift your right hand to your waist, palm facing down.

Inhale through your nose.

When you left hand reaches your eye level, turn your left palm out.  


Begin to exhale through your mouth.  

As you slowly and completely exhale, press your left arm upward and forward, as far as comfortable, palm facing up.  At the same time, press your right arm down and slightly back as far as comfortable, palm facing down.  

Follow your left hand with your eyes.  Keep your head facing forward, and don't bend your neck to look at your hand.  

Just move your eyes and gaze upward at your left hand.
            

Slowly begin to inhale as you move your left hand in a circular manner out and down.  

Follow the left hand with your eyes as it moves down.  At the same time, while inhaling and moving you left arm out and down, bring your right arm up and out in a circular manner. 

Bring your right hand to your eye level, palm up.  

Bring your left hand to your waist level, palm down.  This a circling movement of the arms as the left hand drops downward in a counterclockwise path the right arm simultaneously circles downward in a counterclockwise path. 

As you slowly and completely exhale, press your right arm upward and forward, as far as comfortable, palm facing up.  

At the same time, press your left arm down and slightly back as far as comfortable, palm facing down.  

Follow your right hand with your eyes.  

Keep your head facing forward, and don't bend your neck to look at your hand.  

Just move your eyes and gaze upward at your right hand.    

Repeat the cycle, alternating from side to side, for 6 to 8 repetitions or more.  

Exhale as you press up and out with one hand and down and back with the other.  

Inhale as your arms/hands circle out and down or out and up.

After 3 or 4 repetitions to either side, then fix your gaze on your lower hand as you exhale.  


           

Return you left foot back into the Wu Ji position to rest and realign the body-mind.   

Wu Ji signals the end of one movement and the beginning of the next movement.   

Wu Ji is called "Mountain Pose" Tadasana in Hatha Yoga.  

Enjoy some cleansing breaths.  Opening/Closing. 

Stand up straight and tall.  Lift the head.  Tuck the chin inward a little.  

Loosen Up, Soften, Merge and Relax.

 
Please watch an example on YouTube
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Separating Heaven and Earth #3  
Las 8 Piezas del Brocado
  
Take a right bow stance with 70% of your weight in front right leg and foot, and 30% in the back left leg and foot.
Keep your head up and your back straight.  
Place your right hand on your forehead, palm facing out.  
Place your left hand in the small of your back, palm facing out.  Inhale.  
Begin to exhale and press your right arm forward and upward, palm facing out.  
At the same time press your left arm backward and down, palm facing out.  
Look at your right hand as it moves up and out.  
Stop the exhale as the arms reach their maximum extension.  
Return your right hand to your forehead and left hand to the small of your back.  Inhale.
Repeat the movement 4 to 8 times.            
Right hand on the small of the back, palm facing out.  Inhale.  
Press the left arm up and out, palm out.
Press the right arm back and down, palm out.
Exhale as you press both arms out.   
Look at your left hand as it moves up and out.  
Stop the exhale as the arms reach their maximum extension.  
Return your left hand to your forehead and right hand to the small of your back.  Inhale.
Repeat the movement 4 to 9 times.
b) Instead of the arms circling out and down after pressing heaven and earth,  one arm comes down the center of the body and the other arm moves up the center of the body.
c) The arm movements of this exercise may be done while seated or while walking.  

Refer to my notes in the Thirteen Treasures Walking Qigong.

The Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung

Opening up the chest for deeper breathing.     
Many Chinese healers believe that this exercise helps regulate and improve the Spleen and Stomach.  
Rotating and bending the wrists are part of many spiral energy techniques.  
Balance and brain functions are improved by coordinated movements.
Stretching helps contribute to the relaxation of stiff and tense muscles.
A clear and peaceful mind reduces negative stress on the body. 
Increased heart rate and breathing rate provide some cardiovascular benefit. 
Using both sides of the body (mirroring in a movement form) can have positive effects on the structural alignment of the body and enhance coordination.    
Slow, deep and regular breathing positively effects mood, energy levels, and alertness; as well as improving the mechanical functioning of the lungs. 

Disclaimer    
The first three movements of the Eight Section Brocade all open and stretch the chest and abdominal muscles (Pectoralis major, Serratus anterior, Obliquus externus abdominis, Teres major, Latissimus dorsi, etc.) as well as the shoulders and upper arms to some extent.

The ribcage area (Scapula, Costa,  Intercostal muscles, Rectus abdominis, Obliquus externus abdominis, etc) are given a gentle workout. 

Combined with the deep breathing patterns, these movements help the lungs take in and expel a larger volume of air than normal.  

Most people find this to be pleasurable, energizing, and revitalizing.  


The Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung 

(See below for reference sources.)

(See below for reference sources.)
Holding Up a Single Hand Regulates the Spleen and Stomach.   (Lam Kam Chuen, R2)
Lift Singly: Spleen and Stomach Gain Peace and Harmony.   (Yang Jwing-ming, R3)
Press the Sky.    (Geoff and Phyllis Pike, R4)
Lifting One Single Hand to Regulate the Spleen and Stomach.   (PRC Publication, R5)
Raise Each Arm to Regulate the Spleen.   (Kenneth Cohen, R6)
Separating Heaven and Earth.   (Michael Garofalo, R7)   
Raising the Hands One at a Time.   (Stanley Wilson, R8)  
Upholding Heaven with a Single Arm to Regulate the Spleen and Stomach.  (Daniel Reid, R9)
Raising One Hand to Regulate the Spleen and Stomach  (Jiao Guorui, R10)  
Plucking Stars.  (Wong Kiew Kit, R11)     
Raising the Hands to Adjust the Stomach and Spleen.  (Maoshing Ni, R12)  
Holding One Arm Aloft to Regulate the Functions of the Spleen and Stomach  (Chinese Health Qigong Association, R13)  
One Hand Plucking the Stars, Dan Jue Shi   (Shifu Yan Lei, R14)   
             
The Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung
-  Stuart A. Olson, Qigong Teachings of a Taoist Immortal, p. 36.
-  Ken Cohen, Essential Qigong, 2005, p. 2




Conditioning and stretching the arm, shoulder, back, and abdominal muscles.    

Ba Duan Jin Exercise Set 3  "Holding up a single hand regulates the spleen and stomach.  The movements of this Ba Duan Jin Exercise Set 3 increase the flow of energy along both sides of your body, and benefit your liver, gall bladder, spleen, and stomach. They help to prevent diseases of the gastro-intestinal tract." - Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine 
Sat Chuen Hon, in his book Taoist Qigong, includes a movement sequence similar to "Separating Heaven and Earth" and using the healing sound "Fu", and considers these actions to be of great benefit to the health of the Spleen.  Refer also to Nan Bei Wushu – Chi Gung for more ideas on sounds and the ESB. 
  

References for the Names of Movement 3 (Separating Heaven and Earth) 
Raise Single Arm to Regulate the Functions of Spleen and Stomach.   (Zong Wu and Li Mao, R1)
Names of the movements of the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung in languages other than English. 

       

    This exercise reminds me of "The White Crane Cools its Wings" in the traditional Yang Family style Tai Chi Chuan long form.  In that movement, all the bodyweight is on the back leg and the front leg is in an toe stance.  It is a kind of separating, or splitting motion, with one arm moving in one direction and the other arm in the opposite direction.  Also, in the movement "Parting the Wild Horse's Mane" or "Wild Horse Ruffles Its Mane," the arms move in opposite directions in a splitting motion. 
    The first three movements of the Eight Section Brocade all open and stretch the chest and abdominal muscles (Pectoralis major, Serratus anterior, Obliquus externus abdominis, Teres major, Latissimus dorsi, etc.) as well as the shoulders and upper arms to some extent.  The ribcage area (Scapula, Costa,  Intercostal muscles, Rectus abdominis, Obliquus externus abdominis, etc) are given a gentle workout.  Combined with the deep breathing patterns, these movements help the lungs take in and expel a larger volume of air than normal.  Most people find this to be pleasurable, energizing, and revitalizing.  
    This movement "Separating Heaven and Earth" is called "Plucking Stars" in 18 Lohan Hands Qigong.  
    Why just "eight" movements and not 13 movements or 6 movements?  The influence of the ancient Chinese book called the I Ching (The Book of Changes) on Chinese culture, philosophy, and fortune telling is extremely important.  The 8 basic Trigrams are combined in various ways to make up the 64 hexagrams used in the I Ching.  It was a natural temptation and tricky challenge to fit the elements of a qigong exercise drill into some pattern of eight, and then link them to the symbolism of the I Ching Trigrams.  The Shaolin and Chan Chinese Buddhists have the Noble Eightfold Way.  Taijiquan has a set of postures known as the Eight Gates.  The Indian Yogins of the Raja Yoga tradition of Patanjali (200 CE.) have the Eight Limbs of the Yoga Path (Ashtanga) for followers.  The symbolism of the number "eight" in Chinese culture parallels the popularity of the symbolism of the number "four" in the European culture.  Stuart A. Olson says "Over the course of China's history, these eight images developed into an entire system of divination and philosophy.  Other than the Five Activities (wu hsing) theories, nothing has been more important to the early Chinese mind than the Eight Diagrams.  If a philosophy, health practice, martial art, or medical theory cannot be equated with or validated by the Eight Diagrams or Five Activities, it really has little worth in the Chinese mind." 

    "For optimal health, we need body and spirit, exercise and meditation, awareness of the inner world and the outer.  In other words, health requires balance and moderation.  The goal of qigong may be summarized as xing ming shuang xiu, "spirit and body equally refined and cultivated."  Cultivate your whole being, as you would cultivate a garden - with attention, care, and even love."

    Every beginner should stay within their comfort zone, don't over stretch, and be gentle with your body and mind.  Don't try to "exactly" imitate a fellow student who is an intermediate or advanced Chi Kung player or the teacher.   Know and respect your own body and mental state.  Don't go beyond your own personal bodily conditioning, skills, abilities and limits.  Some advise reducing your exertion levels and doing 30% to 40% less than you can do.   Be reasonable and kind to yourself.  Take your time, advance slowly, be careful, be patient, and remain injury free.  Sometimes, an old or new injury, or joint disease, will limit your range of motion.  Know your own strength and limitations - the practice of Chi Kung and Tai Chi forms will reveal to you your strengths and limitations.  Resolve to make two positive contributions today.  Stay within your comfort zone, explore with the body-mind, and renew-recreate both self-awareness and awareness of Self, and come to experience your comfort zone.  Float on the Wu-wei raft on the Tao River; when standing on Earth then rootsoftenmove.   


    List of Movements in the Eight Section Brocade in English.  1 page, PDF file.  By Mike Garofalo. 
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