Tuesday, August 27, 2013

8 Exercises for Fitness, Healing, and Longevity - Part 2

Today we will concentrate on the second exercise in the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung set.

Pull the Bow is the most complex of the 8 brocades. It is a Qigong course all in itself, with many useful lessons in posture, movement, breath, focus, and Qi flow. There are many bow and arrow exercises found in Qigong. My imagined provenance of this exercise is that ancient folks observed in bowmen a certain quality of vigor and vitality. Bow-pulling exercises arose to recreate such health for others.

Many Chinese healers believe that this exercise helps regulate and improve the kidney meridians. 

Exercise 2 - Drawing the Bow and Letting the Arrow Fly

Research by Michael P. Garofalo

  

Movement Name:  Drawing the Bow and Letting the Arrow Fly, Drawing the Bow, Pulling the Bow and Releasing the Arrow, Shooting the Serpent, Pull-Aim-Release   

Lift and step to the left with your left foot. Step out with your left foot into a horse stance.

Point both feet forward and keep them flat on the floor.
The feet should be wider than shoulder width apart.  

Bend the knees.      
Keep your back straight and head up.

Gently raise your hands to your chest.
Cross your hands, right hand in front of left hand, hands relaxed and open, with your palms facing inward. 
Extend your left arm out level with your chest.  Hold your fingers slightly bent as if your fingers and hand are curled around a bow, holding he bow in your left hand.
At the same time your left arm is extending outward, you lift your right arm up to chest height, your right arm bends at the elbow, your index and middle finger bend, and then your right arm moves out to the right keeping your elbow bent.  Imagine that you are holding the string of a bow, fingers on the string and above and below the arrow, and then pulling on the bow string with your right arm.  

Look to the left.

As you draw the bow and string apart breathe in deeply.



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Aim the bow and arrow, and then release the fingers of the right hand to let the arrow fly.

As you release the arrow, begin to slowly breathe out. 
 

Relax.  
             
The movement of the two arms should mimic the drawing of a bow string and arrow, aiming the arrow, and releasing the arrow.  Coordinate the movement of the arms to match this image.  Feel the tension in the bow and string as your draw them apart to fire the arrow.  Aim the arrow at a target.  Watch the arrow fly to its target.  Concentrate on the target.  

Breathe in while drawing the bow, and breathe out when releasing the arrow and repositioning the hands for the next shot.  

You have now completed the left side part of the Drawing the Bow Movement #2.  
Return arms downward in an arc and then back up the center of your body.
Cross your arms in front of your chest, right hand in front of the left hand.
Relax.
Your head should be facing forward.
Horse stance.
Root into the earth below, sink, feel the earth power.  

Now you will begin the right side part of Drawing the Bow Movement #2. 

Extend your right arm out level with your chest.  Hold your fingers slightly bent as if your fingers and hand are curled around a bow, holding he bow in your right hand.
At the same time your right arm is moving outward, you lift your left arm up to chest height, your left arm bends at the elbow, your index and middle finger bend, and then your left arm moves out to the left keeping your elbow bent.  Imagine that you       are holding the string of a bow, left fingers on the string and around the arrow, and then pulling on the bow string with your left arm.
Look to the right.
As you draw the bow and string apart breathe in deeply.
Aim the bow and arrow, and release the fingers of the left hand to let the arrow fly.
As you release the arrow, begin to slowly breathe out.  
Repeat the movements to both the left and right sides, eight times to each side, so that you draw and fire eight arrows to the left side and eight arrows to the right side.   

                

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.
Bring your feet closer together or have heels touching.
Keep the knees slightly bent.
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.
Feel yourself sinking and rooting into the Earth.
Free up the mind, reduce thinking, forget, become outside more. 

There is a variety of YouTube videos, you can watch to learn the movement. Here is one of them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9hQ2onGXXk












Variations of Movement #2:   Drawing the Bow and Letting the Arrow Fly 

a)  The fingers of the hand are held slightly open and in-line the entire exercise.  The more you bend your knees and the lower you drop into the horse stance, the greater the demands on the thighs and the greater the difficulty of the exercise.  Sink lower in the horse stance after firing every 4 arrows.

b)  The drawing of the bow can be done very slowly or deliberately, or faster and with more force.  Always pause, concentrate, and aim before firing.  Follow the arrow through the sky as it flies out from the bow.  Some circle the arms upward after each shot of the arrow.    
c) Some hold the hand in a position with the index pointing out, the thumb up, and all the other fingers curled inward and touching the palm.  The hand sort of looks like a play handgun.  The index finger is pointed at the target.  
d) Generally, the arms are level with the shoulder and at a right angle to the hips.  However, if your are imagining shooting an arrow a great distance, then the forward bow arm should be at a angle greater than 90ยบ relative to the hips.  The arrow must be aimed higher than the target when the target is at a great distance from the archer.

e) The number of arrows fired can vary: 2, 3, 5, 8, 16, 24, 36, etc.

f)  The arm movements of this exercise may be done while seated or while walking.  Refer to my notes in the Thirteen Treasures Walking Qigong.
            
Although most references for this exercise are to the act of shooting eagles, hawks, or other types of birds, this is not required.  One could imagine aiming at and letting an arrow fly to many types of targets.  A Buddhist might imagine targeting and striking at one's individual faults, shortcomings, and evil behaviors; or hitting the targets of wisdom or enlightenment. A Taoist might imagine targeting and striking at tension, interfering behaviors, and gluttony; or hitting the targets of health, energy, vitality, and longevity.  A Confucian might imagine targeting and striking at selfishness, sloth, disrespect, greed and ignorance; or hitting the targets of social harmony, cooperation, civility, and propriety.  In a similar manner, a Christian might want to aim at love and forgiveness, or a Moslem aim at universal brotherhood and charity.  A hunter might imagine shooting all types of game animals; or, a soldier imagine shooting at an enemy in battle.  What are the negative behaviors, attitudes, and ideas that you wish to eliminate?  What are the positive goals, aims, or objectives that you wish to target and hit on the bull's-eye?
             
          
Health Benefits of Movement #2: Drawing the Bow and Letting the Arrow Fly of The Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung

Horse stances condition and strengthen the legs, knees, waist and back muscles.

Squatting down works the following muscle groups: quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, long outside muscle, calves.  Squatting down and coming back up will improve some balancing skills and increase cardiovascular intensity. 


Shoulders, biceps and forearms are conditioned and strengthened. 


Many Chinese healers believe that this exercise helps regulate and improve the Kidney meridians.      

     
Balance and brain functions are improved by coordinated movements.


Stretching helps contribute to the relaxation of stiff and tense muscles.


Standing up straight in a horse stance helps realign the back muscles and the spine.


A clear and peaceful mind reduces negative stress on the body.


Squatting down exercises the leg muscles including the thighs (quadriceps), hamstrings (biceps femoris), buttocks (glutes), calves (gastrocnemius), iliopsoas, and increases demands on the cardio-vascular system. 


Increased heart rate and breathing rate provide some cardiovascular benefit.


Useful imagery can have positive effects on mental functioning and performance.


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. 


Exercises the eye muscles. 



Disclaimer   
Sat Chuen Hon, in his book Taoist Qigong, includes a movement sequence similar to "Drawing the Bow" and using the healing sound "Xi", and considers these actions to be of great benefit to the health of the Lungs.  
Ba Duan Jin Exercise Set 2,  "Drawing a bow to each side resembles shooting and eagle.  Places the emphasis on your thorax - the home of your heart and lungs - thus greatly improving the circulation of blood and oxygen.  It also improves the flow of energy in your small intestine. heart and lungs - thus greatly improving the circulation of blood and oxygen. It also improves the flow of energy in your small intestine."

References for the Names of the Movement 2 (Drawing the Bow and Letting the Arrow Fly)
Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung
(See below for reference sources.)
Drawing the Bow to Kill a Vulture.   (Zong Wu and Li Mao, R1)
Drawing a Bow to Each Side Resembles Shooting an Eagle.   (Lam Kam Chuen, R2)
Open the Bow like Shooting a Hawk, Two Arms Strong and Firm to Strengthen Kidneys and Waist.   (Yang Jwing-ming, R3)
The Shaolin Archer.   (Geoff and Phyllis Pike, R4)
Drawing the Bow to the Left and Right as though Shooting a Bird.   (PRC Publication, R5)
Open the Bow as Thought Shooting the Buzzard.   (Kenneth Cohen, R6)
Drawing the Bow and Letting the Arrow Fly.   (Michael Garofalo, R7)
Drawing the Bow with Each Hand.   (Stanley Wilson, R8)
Drawing the Bow to the Left and the Right as Though Shooting at a Hawk.  (Daniel reid, R9)
Drawing the Bow to Shoot Vultures (Jiao Guorui, R10)   Shooting Arrows.   (Wong Kiew Kit, R11)
Drawing the Bow with Both Hands to Aim at a Distant Target  (Maoshing Ni, R12)
Posing as an Archer Shooting Both Left and Right Handed  (Chinese Health Qigong Association, R13)
Bow and Arrow, Kai Gong Shi  (Shifu Yan Lei, R14) 

Names of the movements of the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung in languages other than English. 
                   

Comments about Movement 2: Opening the Bow and Letting the Arrow Fly

Observations, Notes, Quotations, Reflections, Questions and Answers

"This section can expand the chest, relieve functional disturbances of the lung-qi, and limber up arms and shoulders; prevent and treat diseases in the neck and shoulder, and reduce pain in lower back and leg."
-  Baduanjin

Can anyone learn the Eight Section Brocade without the benefit of direct instruction from a Ch'i Kung instructor or master? 

I believe you can make very good progress on your own.  This form is not very complex in terms of length, sequence or postures.  In addition to the instructions found on this webpage, there are many fine books with detailed descriptions and illustrations and there are a few instructional DVSs or videotapes on this subject produced by recognized experts with decades of experience in Qigong or Taijiquan internal arts.  Workshops on the Eight Treasures are widely available.  Group practice of this form brings a unique positive and healthy synergy, new insights, the opportunity for useful corrections to your movements from a qualified instructor, and the beauty of the coordinated movement of a group.  Take advantage of some group practice if you can.  Always be open to ideas on the topic and be ready and willing to learn from others.  Cheng Man-ch'ing speaks about how a few persons used only books to learn T'ai Chi Ch'uan (a very difficult task), and his remarks could equally or more so apply to learning less complex Qigong forms on your own from books, videotapes or DVDs; he says,
"Some have asked me if it is really possible to master T'ai-chi ch'uan relying solely on a book and having no teacher.  My answer is that this is a very good question.  Self study in T'ai-chi ch'uan is indeed very difficult.  Former masters stressed oral transmission and personal instruction.  But when there is no alternative, and in order to benefit the greatest number, one must not shrink from the difficulties, but seek every possible means."
-  Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing, Advanced T'ai Chi Form Instructions, Wile 1985 p.9.  

No matter how you came to learn to do this form, in the end, your own practice in the form is all that really matters.  You must personally experience the movements and the benefits of the Eight Treasures Chi Kung, and have your own body-mind grasp their essence - this is how you will really "learn" the Eight Treasures.  Your solo practice is the primary and essential element of your progress.  Without your daily practice and effort (Kung) at the Eight Treasures, on your own, true learning will never occur.  This is an experiential, existential, inner movement art; and your real experiences, healthy attitude, and increased energy and vitality are the only real criteria of accomplishment.  

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 rootsoften,move.   

Some days you will only have the energy to imagine pulling on the string of a child's bow - a five pound bow.  On other days you will have the internal power and strong desire to imagine pulling on a 30 pound bow.  Go with the flow!  Recognize your energy levels, and use them in a practical and flexible manner.  

"When condensing the internal power, it should be like the pulling of a bow; when projecting the internal power, it should be like the shooting of an arrow."
-   Master Wu Yu-hsiang (1812 - 1880), Translation by Waysun Liao

I enjoy doing this exercise while walking.  Be sure to AIM, look carefully at the target, and imagine watching the arrow fly to its target.  While walking, you can aim at a variety of targets, near or far, to the side or to the front.  Experiment!  I do the standing version of the Eight Treasures outdoors in my garden or by the small pond.  Many Chinese enjoy doing qigong in parks or other beautiful natural settings.  

List of Movements in the Eight Section Brocade in English.  1 page, PDF file.  By Mike Garofalo. 
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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

8 Exercises for Fitness, Healing, and Longevity - Part 1

The Eight Pieces of Beautiful Silk Brocade Chi Kung (Ba Duan Jin Qigong) is a very popular Chi Kung Form. Chi Kung (Dao-yin, Yang Sheng Gong, Qigong) are Various Ancient Chinese Exercise and Fitness Practices.



Research by Michael P. Garofalo

This post is Part 1, to find Part 2, 3, 4,5 and Part 6 follow the links below

Part 5
Part 6



     The use of calisthenics, stretching, and breathing exercises to maintain good health, fight disease, and enhance the quality of life is of great antiquity. This type of physical activity has a long documented history in both India and China.  
    
     Interesting theories abound about the origin and development of the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung.  It is likely that ancient dances, medical theory, military drills and exercises, shamanistic rituals, and Buddhist and Taoist practices were all sources for the specific and formal movement routines of Dao-yin or Chi Kung (Qigong). 



Literature that talks about such health and fitness exercise postures or routines, with some movements quite similar to movements in the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung, goes back nearly 2,500 years. 
"All Chi Kung exercises are intended to improve health, increase energy, revitalize the body and mind, prevent or control disease, tone the internal organs, improve balance, reduce stress, boost the immune system, remove toxins, tone the muscles and tendons, uplift mood, contribute to longevity, and provide an integrated mind-body practice leading towards enlightenment and harmony with the Tao.  Take some confidence in this promise, "Every person who uses Qi cultivation methods consistently experiences some form of health improvement and personal access to greater energy and power"
-  Roger Jahnke, OMD, The Healing Promise of Qi, 2002, p. 31. 
After you learn Eight Section Brocade, I strongly recommend to proceed to standing exercises that are usually called Zhan Zhuang. 
Zhan Zhuang - Foundation of Internal Martial Arts
Standing exercises (Zhan Zhuang) can positively affect every cell and every organ in the human body, improve the functioning of respiratory and vascular systems, and also improve metabolism. In other words, they activate the whole human organism.

Standing Qigong produced superior results
What is stronger Qigong or Coffee for an instant “hit”?
Qigong Breathing and Qigong for Relaxation




Learning the Eight Section Brocade

  What is most important is doing the entire set once each day, and using a pace that is suitable to your current level of physical conditioning.
     Move with intention.  Imagine willing a movement and executing the movement precisely. Imagine gently and carefully moving an infant.  Imagine driving a motorcycle in bad road conditions as if your life depended on every movement you make.  Use whatever imagery or mind-set you need to concentrate on the exercise movements.  Be focused!!  Pay full attention to the movements while moving, knowing exactly where and how to move, and where and when to stop on a dime.  




     In traditional Taoist practices, the teachers speak about the need to do this exercise routine for a minimum of 100 days before any benefits become noticeable, and before you decide to stop doing the exercise.  The cultivation of the "Dan Tien" or "Field of Elixir", like the cultivation of any garden or field, requires work (Kung) over an extended period of time before the crop grows to harvest size.  The long term cultivation of the "Field of Elixir" or "Orchard of Elixir" demands that we continue these qigong  exercises for many years to assure longevity and to aim towards attaining the special powers of a chen-jenor "realized being."  The ancients Taoists said,  
"Only after a hundred days of concentrated work is the light real;
Only then is it the fire of spirit.
To set up the Foundation requires a hundred days."
-   The Secret of the Golden Flower, Translated by Thomas Cleary, p. 17, 49.
  
    Most people will enjoy and benefit greatly from doing the Eight Section Brocade in a relaxed (Sung) manner.  
Relax, breathe naturally and fully, move slowly, sink into the earth, become like freely moving water, be soft, be gentle. Free your mind of mundane concerns and cultivate calmness, inner peace, and not thinking.  Allow yourself to feel your body and take pleasure from it during the movements.  Be present in the here and now. 

     
     In this post I am only going to go over the starting position and the first movement. There is just too much information to be included in one post.
  

  

Starting and Resting Position, Wuji


1.    Pressing Up to the Heavens with Two Hands
2.    Drawing the Bow and Letting the Arrow Fly
3.    Separating Heaven and Earth
4.    Wise Owl Gazes Backward     
5.    Big Bear Turns from Side to Side    
6.    Punching with an Angry Gaze    
7.    Touching the Toes then Bending Backwards
8.    Shaking the Body 
  
Ending Practice Options: Self Massage, Wuji, Standing Meditation, Magic Pearl Qigong, Dragon Qigong, Taijiquan

    
"Both hands carry heaven to regulate the triple burner.
Draw the bow left and right as if to shoot a vulture.
Regulate spleen and stomach by lifting one hand.
Remedy the 5 symptoms and 7 disorders by looking backward.
Turn the head and swing the tail to eliminate heart-fire.
Clench fists and look angry to increase qi and strength.
Two hands grab the feet to strengthen kidneys and waist.
Jolt the back 7 times and hundred illnesses will disappear."
-  Translated by Hielke Hylkema



Starting and Resting Position while Standing: Wu Ji



Stand up straight.

Your feet should be close togethe
r - touching each other. This aids in the improvement of balance; however, a stance with the feet 7"-15" apart may be more productive and efficient for many persons.  


The toes should be pointed straight ahead.


Both feet should be flat on the floor. 


The weight should be equal on both feet.

Don't lean to one side or the other.

Relax your body.
Stay balanced and centered.

 
Clear you mind and set aside the work and worries of the day.


Your face should seem happy, joyful, reflecting an "Inner Smile".
Smile!  Refer to Mantak Chia's comments on the "Inner Smile."


Keep your head up and look forward.


Your eyes should be open, with a soft and wide angle focus.


Breathe in and out in a relaxed, easy, and regular manner.


Keep your lips parted slightly.


Your arms should hang down in a relaxed manner at your sides.


The palms of your hands should face your thighs.  


Relax the shoulders and let them hang down.


Some recommend that you keep the tip of your tongue lightly touching the roof of your mouth.

               
    This posture is often called the "Wu Ji Posture" in Taijiquan.  

    Students should note that the Wuji posture is very similar to the Yoga posture of Tadasana - the Mountain Pose.  It is also called the Samasthiti pose in Hatha Yoga.  We should stand like a Mountain: strong, stable, unmoving, grand, still, aloof, above the mundane, powerful, accepting but unbroken by the storms of ideas, emotions and worries.  The arms are held out from the body by 8"-10" in Tadasana.  Reference:  Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar, 1977, p.61-62.


    The very best book on the power of Wuji qigong is by Jan Diepersloot:  Warriors of Stillness: Meditative Traditions in the Chinese Martial Arts.
 Also refer to Jan Diepersloot's Tao of Yiquan: The Method of Awareness in the Martial Arts.




  Simply standing can have great benefit to body and mind. 


After completing each of the eight movements in the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung, then use Wu Ji as the transition:
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.
Bring your feet closer together or have heels touching.
Keep the knees slightly bent.
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.
Feel yourself sinking and rooting into the Earth.
Free up the mind, reduce thinking, forget, become outside more.
Wu Ji is the fertile nothingness that precedes Yin and Yang, an empty and free state of being conscious, the still place before movement, the Zhong Ding of the Tao, a stop-rest-pause stop, an orgasm of the Chaos of Emptiness at the Big Bang, a transition point in the exercise routine, etc. 

"When you see excellence, you should try to surpass it.
When you see the opposite, examine yourself."

-   Lao Tzu

1.  Pressing Up to the Heavens with Two Hands


Starting Position:  Wu Ji

Movement Name: Pressing the Sky with Two Hands, Lifting the Heavens with Two Hands, Holding Up the Sky
         
Demonstration by Mike Garofalo of Movement #1: Pressing Heaven with Two Hands (2005, 175Kb, Animated GIF) 

Step out with your left leg into a comfortable and wide horse stance.

The toes should point at about 45 degrees to the outside.
Lift your arms up to your shoulders, palms down.  Inhale.


Your palms should be up, with your fingers slightly apart.


Draw the arms down in front of the body as you squat down and bend your back.  Exhale.


Bring both hands together, palms facing up.


Imagine energy from your body intermingling with energies from the Earth through the Yong Quan (Bubbling or Gushing Well) acupressure and acupuncture point on the front center of your feet.  Yong Quan is an endpoint on the Kidney meridian.
Imagine scooping up some water from a lake or the ocean.


Draw both hands, palms up, up the center line of the body as you rise up out of the squat and straighten the upper body.


Inhale as you draw the arms up to your face.
 


When moving up imagine your internal energy (Chi) moving up from your waist, up your spine, and into your head.


Imagine the energy of the air, sky and the Heavens filling your lungs and whole being
.




The fingers of each hand should point to each other, and be kept about 2 to 4 inches apart.

When your hands reach your face, turn the palms to face outward.  


Raise both hands up until you reach your forehead.


Press your arms upward and outwards in front or your body. Exhale.

The arms should press out at a 20 to 45 degree angle from the body, do not press the arms straight up.
Keep your wrists bent so your fingers point to each other.
Keep your fingers 2  to 4 inches apart.


Gently stretch the whole body upward as the arms press upward.


Rise your heels up slightly as your hands reach their maximum height.


Keep your head looking forward as your arms move up, keep a wide angle focus to your eyes, and follow your hands with your eyes.


Imagine energy from your body intermingling with energy from the Heavens through the Lao Gong (Palace of Labor) acupressure and acupuncture point on the center of your palms.  Lao Gong is connected with the Heart and is a pericardium meridian endpoint.


Stretch your arms up to the limit of your comfort zone, then begin the downward cycle of the movement.


Turn the palms outward and down as you circle both arms out and down.

Continue to slowly exhale as your arms move down.


Return your feet to a flat footed position.


Gently tighten your abdomen as your exhale.


When moving your hands down imagine moving energy from the Heavens and from your head and lungs down the front of your body into your waist area - into the center of your being in your Dan Tien or Field of Elixir (about three inches below and behind your navel).


Keep your head looking forward as your arms move down, keep a wide angle focus to your eyes, and follow your hands with your eyes.  Keep both hands in your field of vision as your hands move down.


Begin to squat and bend forward as the arms reach the legs in their downward arc.  


Draw the arms down in front of the body as you squat down and bend your back.  Exhale.

Bring both hands together, palms facing up.

Imagine scooping up some water from a lake or the ocean.


Draw both hands, palms up, up the center line of the body as you rise up out of the squat and straighten the upper body.


Inhale as you draw the arms up to your face. 
               
Generally, inhale when moving up, exhale when moving down.  Make adjustments in your breathing as needed.    
Repeat "Pressing the Sky" 2, 3, 6, 9, or 12 times.   Whatever number of repetitions are chosen for the first exercise should be duplicated in each of the other exercises.  I prefer 6 repetitions with a count of four to six seconds on the inhale, and a count of four to six seconds on the exhale. 

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

         
Health Benefits of Movement 1: Pressing Up to the  Heavens with Two Hands) The Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung


Deep soft breathing helps to lower your heartbeat and blood pressure.
Stretching helps contribute to the relaxation of stiff and tense muscles.
Standing up straight helps realign the back muscles and the spine.
Many Chinese healers believe that this exercise helps regulate and improve the heart, lungs, stomach, spleen, and liver.  It stimulates the internal organs in the upper trunk area.  The Triple Warmer or Triple Burner (Sanjiao) refers to the heart, lungs, and stomach.
A clear and peaceful mind reduces negative stress on the body.
Shoulders, pectorals and triceps are exercised a little in this exercise.
Bending the knees exercises the front thighs.
Squatting down exercises the leg muscles including the thighs (quadriceps), hamstrings (biceps femoris), buttocks (glutes), calves (gastrocnemius), iliopsoas, and increases demands on the cardio-vascular system.


Disclaimer 

Sat Chuen Hon, in his book Taoist Qigong, includes a movement sequence very similar to "Press Heaven with Two Hands" and using the healing sound "Hey", and considers these actions to be of great benefit to the health of the Triple Heater.   
Ba Duan Jin Exercise Set 1  Instructions, illustrations, video.  "Support the heaven with both hands regulate the three visceral cavities housing the internal organs (san jiao)."
It should be noted that traditional Chinese medicine does not ascribe to the same views on anatomy, physiology, or causation that are used in contemporary scientific bio-medical theories.  The "Spleen Organ" or "Heart Organ" in Chinese medicine have functions and attributes of a different nature than we might understand the heart or spleen in contemporary medicine.  For an excellent explanation of these concepts please read the book  by Ted J. Kaptchuk, O.M.D.- The Web That Has No Weaver : Understanding Chinese Medicine





Observations, Notes, Quotations, Reflections, Questions and Answers

    
"In order for this to have any beneficial effect on your health, approaching it with confidence, sincerity, and perseverance in practicing the exercises is very important. Only with confidence can you develop sincerity and focus your mind while exercising; only with sincerity can you persevere to practice and gain the essence of the exercises; and only with perseverance can you get the beneficial effects of the exercises and develop more interest in them."
By Jiawen Miao,  Eight Section Brocade Simple Fitness Exercises: Traditional Chinese Movements for Health & Rejuvenation.

    Each movement of the Eight Section Brocade has specific techniques for using your eyes.  Exercise your eyes in accordance with the instructions, e.g., following the movements of your hands, looking off into the distance, looking upward, keeping a wide angle focus of vision, etc.  In some ways, these exercises are similar in style to those developed by optometrists and vision improvement advocates such as William H. Bates, Jacob Liberman, Martin Sussman, or Aldos Huxley.  Learning to use your eyes in new ways and exercising your eye muscles are thought to be of benefit to your general well-being.  Chi Kung and internal martial arts are seen as intertwined; and acute, careful, alert and lively visual skills are essential to self-defense and success
as a martial artist.  Your safety is dependent upon seeing what is going on around you, keeping your eyes out for trouble, keeping your eyes peeled, and seeing what is coming up.  Do not neglect this important dimension of the Eight Treasures.   
   

This post is Part 1, to find Part 2, 3, 4,5 and Part 6 follow the links below

Part 5
Part 6



Spring Forest Qigong - Small Universe - Meditation
Three Treasures Qigong Healing Meditation
Qigong Meditation: Embryonic Breathing

Here are some great Breathing exercises and Meditations: