Improve Spine + Joint Health and Blood + Energy Circulation
The Wood Element combines the upwards and downwards flows of energy to create more internal space, which has a profound effect on blood and energy circulation, as well as the joints of the body (most notably the spine).
I teach two practices to help students embody the tenets of expansion germane to Wood Element practices–both of which are recommended for beginning and advaned students, albeit for different reasons:
- Heaven and Earth Qi Gong
- Circling Hands Qi Gong
Marriage of Heaven and Earth Qi Gong
Heaven and Earth Qigong consists of a two-part exercise that stretches all the muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia of the body. As layers of internal and energetic components are worked deeper into the body, the fluids (e.g. blood, lymph, interstitial and cerebrospinal) circulate more powerfully. With activation of the pulse (through opening-and-closing nei gong techniques), the nerves release and allow the body and mind to open, relax and let go. It’s no mystery why this 3,000-year-old, pure Taoist qi gong system has prevailed throughout the ages as a student favourite!
Heaven and Earth is often referred to as “healing qigong” because of the litany of associated health benefits associated with ongoing, accurate practice, such as:
- Releasing shoulder, neck and back pain;
- Improving balance and flexibility, which are implicated in alleviating arthritis, carpal tunnel and repetitive strain injury (RSI).
- Neutralising stress and release deeply stored tensions;
- Opening up the vascular system and increasing blood flow to relieve tension surrounding the heart ;
- Improving digestion;
- Boosting the sex drive and physical performance in general;
- Energising and revitalising the internal organ base.
Dedicated practice of Heaven and Earth combines the descending energy (from “Heaven”) and ascending energy (from the earth) currents to move chi through the micro- and macro-cosmic orbits. Ultimately, the energies of heaven and earth are joined and integrated into the body through the lower tantien, the centre point of the body, creating fully interconnected body motion.
Developing the Mind’s Intent
Heaven and Earth Qi Gong is practised to smooth the mind and hone the mind’s intent. As layers of internal neigong content are added to form movements, the way in which threads are integrated and the manner in which you activate each one specifically trains your intent to become present, aware and focused. This space allows you to concentrate your mind’s focus as well as expand and maintain your presence, awareness and focus for prolonged periods.
Watch a Video Demonstration of Heaven and Earth Qi Gong
Circling Hands Qi Gong: Nei Gong for Beginners
Quick and easy to learn, Circling Hands Qi Gong offers many of the health and power-generating benefits available in more complex qi gong systems without the complicated choreography. Practice develops internal techniques necessary for health and vitality, which can be applied in any other movement arts you train (such as bagua and tai chi), and specifically serves as a preliminary exercise that helps students to embody multi-layered internal nei gong content learned in Heaven and Earth Qi Gong.
While practising Circling Hands, the practitioner seeks to remove all stops and starts in their motion, which, to achieve, requires smoothing out glitches in the body, mind and energy, and tuning into the flow. The circling action of the hands creates continuous motion, warming up the body (from increased blood flow), relaxing the mind and generating a generous supply of chi. It’s a multiplying, positive feedback loop since the mind’s intent influences energy flow and chi governs blood circulation.
In Circling Hands, the kwa exercises penetrate deep into the body with the purpose of creating a powerful massage for the internal organs and boosting blood and fluid circulation. In combination with the C-curve, kwa exercises are practised to generate strong hydraulic activity, allowing the body to be exercised from the inside out while remaining extremely relaxed.