Over the last fifty years, I have been searching for and compiling information on the qigong and yoga (which is essentially Indian qigong) that can be effectively used to benefit today's society. Our lifestyle today is very different from that of a hundred years ago. We are all busy and have less time. In addition, due to pollution in our air, water, and even the energy itself, this world has become the most difficult, contaminated, and harmful living environment ever existing in human history. In this situation, the body is constantly detoxing, and people commonly develop abnormal qi (energy) circulation patterns.
For this reason, qigong and yoga practice have become more important than ever. Because of its emphasis on maintaining smooth qi and blood circulation, these internal arts have been commonly used to maintain body health and extend life span. With regular practice, a practitioner will be able to regulate the abnormal qi circulation and strengthen the body's vital force.
These qigong exercises focus on opening the twelve primary qi channels (meridians) in the early morning right after you wake up. When you sleep, your body's hormones are produced, and part of their function is to expedite the body's metabolism. But when we metabolize unclean food, water, and air, the body begins to accumulate toxic material. Early morning exercises and drinking water immediately after waking up are the crucial keys to help remove the toxins built up during sleep.
I have compiled this qigong practice from my more than fifty years of practicing and the irregular qi circulation can be corrected. Practicing daily will help you regain your health and maintain your vital energy.
In addition, practicing massage routines, using tui na and cavity acupressure techniques will allow you to enhance the qi circulation in the channels. These cavities are selected from traditional Chinese medicine and commonly used in acupuncture.
Once you have practiced for a while, you will be able to comprehend the theory behind it and may even create new movements that are more suitable for your lifestyle, body shape, and environment. These exercises only offer you some ideas and references to get started. You should keep your mind open and dare to experiment with new exercises, while listening to your body's subtle feedback. I sincerely hope that Meridian Qigong is able to inspire you and contribute to making your life healthier.
Before you begin practicing, there are a few points you should understand. These exercises are designed to be done in bed, and ideally, you'll be able to memorize them. But first, let me explain the benefits and the best time to practice.
Benefits of Exercises
To gain the most benefits from the meridian qigong exercises and acupressure, it is highly recommended that you practice all of the movements. These movements are designed in an order ideal to motivate the qi and blood circulation. However, if you feel the number of repetitions is too many or too few, you may adjust to fit what you need.
1. Increasing Health and Longevity
The benefits you can gain from these exercises are not only to maintain your general health but also to slow down your aging process. The key of reaching these goals is to keep practicing regularly so that the body is able to get rid of the waste, and you can regain your vital force.
2. Relaxing and Reconditioning Your Torso (Spine and Lower Back)
Many exercises focus on torso movements that can not only loosen up the torso but also rebuild its strength. In Chinese medicine, the muscles/tendons that wrap around the torso are considered an organ called triple burner (sanjiao, 三焦). When these wrapping muscles/tendons are loosened, the internal organs can be relaxed. Consequently, the qi and blood can smoothly circulate in the organs. In addition, through these exercises, you will also condition your torso and spine, especially the lower back. Therefore, to those who already have spine or lower back problems, these exercises will help you to regain health.
3. Opening the Twelve Primary Qi Channels (Meridians)
All exercises are designed to open up or to reactivate the qi's circulation in the twelve primary qi channels. Once these channels are wide opened, the qi can circulate abundantly and smoothly. This will thus enhance the blood circulation as well. Qi and blood circulation is the crucial key to getting rid of the body's toxins, especially when done in the early morning, right after waking up. In addition, if you practice before your sleep, you will loosen up the body and improve the qi and blood circulation. This will help you get rid of the toxins that have accumulated from daytime physical activities. Practicing before you sleep will provide a good circulating condition for the body's metabolism during your sleep. However, you may experience that it is harder to fall asleep because the enhanced circulation may excite your mind and body.
4. Strengthening Internal Organs
Another benefit of enhancing qi circulation in the twelve primary qi channels is to recondition your internal organs such as the kidneys, spleen, liver, lungs, and heart. When the qi's circulation in the twelve primary qi channels is enhanced due to the more abundant qi circulation provided, the internal organs can be conditioned and rebuilt. It is known in Chinese qigong practice that the crucial key of rebuilding the internal organs' healthy condition is through abundant qi circulation. After all, if there is not enough energy circulating in the internal organs, then there is nothing that can be used to recondition the organs.
5. Improving Joint Problems
Many exercises focus on stretching and exercising the joints. When you lie down, the physical body is relaxed, especially the joints. Therefore, it is the best position for stretching and exercising the joints and enhancing the qi's circulation in the joints. This is the crucial key to healing and reconditioning.
6. Improving the Digestive System
Some of the exercises emphasize the abdominal area's movement and massage. Through these exercises and massage, the qi will circulate following the bowel system. This is the key to improving the function of the digestive system.
7. Preventing Prostate and Breast Cancers
Through the shoulder and hip joint exercises, the qi stagnant around the breast and prostate areas can be removed. In Chinese medicine, it is recognized that smooth qi circulation is the key to preventing or healing cancers. Naturally, correct exercises and massage are the two most common treatments for cancer problems.
1. Time of Practice (練習時間)
To gain the most benefit from these exercises, there are three optimal times that you can practice.
A. Right after waking up (剛睡醒)—Best time
B. Right before sleep (睡前)—Second-best time
C. Dusk (傍晚)—Third-best time
2. Do Not Practice with Full or Empty Stomach (不要飽食、空肚)
There are a lot of swaying and circling motions in these exercises. If you have a full stomach when you do these exercises, you will feel very uncomfortable. It is important to feel comfortable and relaxed. Naturally, if you are too hungry, that will also affect your exercises; you should eat a little bit of food first. However, if you feel comfortable right after you wake up, that would be the best time.
3. Drink Plenty of Water (喝水足量)
If you feel thirsty during practice, the waste in your body will not move adequately. Water is a necessary element to help cleanse the body. If you can, place a glass of water next to your bed so you will have it right when you are waking up.
4. Breathe Naturally (呼吸自然)
Breathing is a crucial key to repelling waste in the body. Plenty of oxygen will offer you a high level of metabolism. Therefore, when you practice, you should breathe naturally and deeply. Holding the breath can only cause tightness of the body.
5. Adequate Number of Repetitions (運動量適度)
The right amount of exercise is always the key to progress. Too much will harm you, and too little will not be effective. In addition, you must consider how much time you have. If you rush through, even though you have done a lot of exercises, the result will not be as great as when you take time and relax. You must build up a habit of enjoying it instead of treating it as a necessary task. If you find that your body is a little bit sore the next day after practice, it is normal. However, if the soreness is significant, it implies you should proceed more slowly and more gradually.
To complete all of the exercises recommended, it will take about forty to fifty minutes. If you find that there are too many exercises, you may divide them into two or three groups and practice them alternatively. You may also select those exercises that are more beneficial to your needs. For example, if you have lower back pain, you may want to practice those exercises that focus on the lower back. If you have hip or knee joint problems, you may want to emphasize more on the hip and knee exercises. Naturally, you can always adjust the number of repetitions as well.
I hope this introduction has convinced you of the effectiveness and the benefits of meridian qigong. Please allow at least three months of practice to verify these benefits. The keys to making this happen are patience and consistence. If you find this is beneficial to you, please introduce these exercises to others such as your friends and family.
The above is from the Introduction of Meridian Qigong Exercises: Combining Qigong, Yoga and Acupressure. There is also a DVD Meridian Qigong: Combined Qigong, Yoga and Acupressure Exercises available as a companion to this book. Both by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming