The following are excerpts from A Woman’s Qigong Guide — Empowerment through Movement, Diet, and Herbs by Yanling Lee Johnson, YMAA Publication Center. I wrote this book for women from all walks of life with the intent to share the ancient Chinese wisdom concerning the practice of qigong and cultivation. The short forms included in Chapter 5 of this book are for education and to help specific needs. They are short so that they can fit into your busy schedule and can keep your ‘qi-engine’ going.
The practice of qigong can be very flexible so that it can easily fit into your particular lifestyle. Qigong practice will help you to reach a more carefree state and approach your inner being where healing and prevention begins. It will also build your ability to adapt your body to nature’s way, which allows for a more natural existence. Qigong should not be practiced merely for healing an injury or illness, although it certainly can be used in such a capacity. Qigong practice and cultivation can open you up to the world of preventive medicine.
Qigong short forms
In the world of qigong practice, there is a large variety of forms that can be studied. Included in that multitude are a tremendous number of short forms that can be incorporated into your daily life as well. These short forms are designed to promote balance in your life and many of them are also designed to help along a particular illness or injury that pertains to being uniquely female. In addition to helping an injury or illness, many of these short forms can be practiced during the day to help you continuously maintain a carefree qigong state. This, in turn, will benefit your health and keep your ‘qi engine’ running in the event that it is impossible to take the time to practice a long form.
The following forms that I have translated are from Buddhist Grand Master Yuan Huan-xian, Grand Master and Dr. Yan Xin, and the texts of the ancient qigong-masters and well known physicians, Immortal Tao Hong-jing (A.D. 452-536), Immortal Sun Si-miao (A.D. 581-682), and Chao Yuan-fang (A.D.586-618).
I have arranged the forms according to the time of day when they can be practiced for general well-being or according to a particular problem that you might be experiencing. Read through them and feel free to select a form that best suits the needs of your own lifestyle. Each of the following short forms can be practiced as solo forms as well as to compliment a long form.
When you practice any qigong form, it is not good to focus your mind solely on one area of the body or to focus on only one area for a long period of time. It is also more important to feel what you are doing when you are practicing than worrying about the movements.
Morning Qigong short form
This qigong form should be done after you wake up, before you get out of bed.
- Roll on your right side. Try to remain in the relaxed state of awakening. Lay your two hands together, left half palm on top of right palm. Place them near your face with fingers pointing to the head of your bed. Touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth directly behind your teeth.
- Place your left leg on top of your right and bend the left leg slightly so that the left foot is still touching the lower portion of your right leg. Try to keep your body relaxed. Allow saliva to collect in your mouth and gently swallow it. Try to trace its path in your mind as it goes down your middle qi channel to your lower dan tian.
- Do not allow yourself to fall asleep. Remain relaxed and keep your mind vaguely at the lower dan tian. When you are ready to get up, knock your teeth together several times to exercise and firm the teeth and to get your body out of the meditating state. Swallow saliva again to follow its path to the lower dan tian to condense qi there. When you have finished, get up slowly and begin your daily tasks.
Continue Qigong morning short forms
If you have more time, after completing the above exercise, rather than getting up from bed, roll on to your back, stretch your arms above your head, and legs downward, thinking all the joints including your spine are pulled apart slightly and relaxed. Focus your mind on taking a long deep breath and inhale. As you exhale say the word, ‘heh-,’ softly and the whole body relaxed. Repeat three times. This helps release filthy qi from your chest.
- Next roll on your left side in the same way as before, and swallow saliva and trace its path with your mind to the lower dan tian and remain there for a minute. Roll back over on to your back and rub your hands together until hot, place the index and middle fingers on either side of your nose, rub up and down massaging this area for about one minute. Rubbing hot hands in this area helps with the qi circulation, because our hands bring qi to the area that you massage.
- Now, sit up. Using your fingers tap your eyes gently on the eyeballs with your eyes closed for a minute to improve the vision. Then grab your ears between your thumb and forefingers and gently pull them down and up then move them forward and back (or role by palms), for about a minute. Next place your palms over your ears so that they cover your ear holes tightly and your fingers rest on the back of your head. Place your index finger on top of your middle finger and snap your index finger off your middle finger so that it taps the back of your head. Tap 24 times. This tapping is called, ‘beating the drum of Heaven’ and will help to improve your hearing. After you have completed the drumming section, remain quiet for a minute then quickly massage your face with your palms and fingers in the way that you wash your face. This is another good stopping point if your morning time is limited and you may get up slowly and begin you daily routine.
If you have more time, after completing the above exercise, sit up in bed in a crossed leg meditation posture (if your bed is soft find a more suitable place) for as long as you wish. Be sure to keep your back straight and your head level. Keep your chin slightly tucked so that you have good posture. Circle your tongue first inside and then outside your teeth in a clockwise and counterclockwise manner to massage your gums. When you do this saliva will collect in your mouth, swallow small amounts of it three times. When you swallow imagine the saliva as water rinsing your internal organs as it makes its way to the lower dan tian. This helps improve the functions of the organs and prevents aging.
Qigong short forms at work
In many instances once we leave our homes and enter the workplace all of our comfort feelings that we experience at home go right out the window. For your emotional as well as physical well-being it is important that you make time to bring the relaxation that qigong promotes to the workplace even if it is for a few moments at a time during your busy day.
This short form is good to practice if your job requires a lot of mental concentration and less physical activity.
- Once you settle in at work, but before you start working, take a minute to relax your body and mind. Try this visualization; imagine a candlelight in your heart area for a minute, try to focus your thoughts and energies in this area and focus at the light. Then slowly focus back on your surroundings and begin your work, but keep a little awareness at the light in your chest during the day.
- When your work is completed turn your focus back to your heart for a minute or two before leaving your workplace. This practice helps keep your shen (spirit) inside so that you will not drain much energy.
If your job does not take your full concentration, try to pay a little more attention to your heart or keep that notion in the back of your mind while you are doing your work. When you take a break inhale and exhale in the qigong way: deeply, softly, and continuously. With each inhalation, gently swallow your saliva and visualize it going to the lower dan tian. When the air is not good, don’t do deep breathing. Simply visualize the daylights gathering into your heart then to the lower dan tian.
Qigong short forms while driving
It is easy for your body to become tired and stiff from spending too much time in a car every day. The following exercises will help keep qi flowing in your body even though you are in an area of restricted movement. Remember these exercises are to be done in a stopped or parked car so as not to interfere with your driving. Try to be aware that even though you are not able to move your body that qi still flows. When you do the movements, keep your mind at the area you are moving.
- Gently move your head in a clockwise circle and then gently reverse the direction. As you do this, tell your head to relax. The number of times you do this depends on your situation.
- Then roll your shoulders forward and then backward and tell them to relax. This will help relieve neck and shoulder stress.
- Next move your waist and buttocks in a clockwise circle then reverse direction and tell them to relax. This helps qi flow through the Wei lu point located in the tail bone area.
- Knock you teeth together and tell them to relax. After knocking your teeth, massage your gums by circling your tongue inside and outside the gums—first clockwise and then counterclockwise—in a relaxed way. As you do this, saliva will collect in your mouth. Gently swallow it and trace its path in your mind to the lower dan tian to help gather qi in this area. While driving, always keep a little awareness in your heart.
Qigong short forms before going to bed
Sit cross-legged on your bed if it is not too soft (or anywhere you are comfortable). If you have to sit on a chair, then keep your feet at shoulders’ width.
- Let go of all the thoughts from your mind. Slowly and gently breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth three times. Each breath thoroughly sends qi into and out of the dan tian.
- Massage one foot and then the other by using the palm of your hand, not the fingers (especially not the middle finger alone), and make clockwise circles the bottom of your foot. Try to keep the pressure firm, but gentle as you do this. Repeat this circular motion for at least 89 times. Your feet have many acupoints related to the various organs; massaging them can relax the mind and promote circulation.
- When you are going to sleep, lay on your right side with your right leg straight and relaxed and your left leg slightly bent on top of your right leg. Place the middle finger of your left hand about one hand distance below the hip of the top leg where the Huan tiao acupoint is. Place your right hand under your head so that your thumb and index finger is under your ear. In this way, the qi will focus on circulating along the main channels and go to the lower dan tian.