These exercises warm up the muscles, stimulate the flow of Qi and help to relax the mind, preparing the body for Qigong practice. They can also be practised as a warm-up to Tai Chi exercises or as a basic routine for those new to Qigong. Each exercise can be practised on its own but, for maximum benefit, the full set of eight exercises should be performed regularly; daily if possible.
Relax slowly and gently into each exercise, stretching into each position. Breathe evenly through the nose, keeping the mouth closed but not tense. Do not attempt to breathe more deeply or more slowly than usual.
Support the sky
This exercise improves the circulation and theof the joints.
1. Standing in theposition, exhale as you raise both arms out in front of you and up above your head. Start with your palms facing in and turn them out as they pass your face. Press the hands upwards, straightening the arms as far as possible and pressing the feet firmly into the ground. Hold the stretch for 1 second. Breathing in, lower the arms until the backs of the hands are just above the head. Ease the pressure on the feet. Practise the exercise a total of eight times, slowly moving the hands up and down over the head.
Draw the bow
This exercise strengthens the joints and tendons and develops focus.
2. Standing in the Wu Chi position, raise your hands to chest level, palms in. Turn the left hand so that the palm faces left and the fingers point upwards. Look in the same direction. Imagine that you are holding a bow and arrow and draw the right elbow back while pushing the left hand out. Breathe out as you hold the stretch for one second. Breathe in as you slowly return your arms to the front of your chest. Practise the exercise on the right side, performing a total of four times on each side.
Single hand supports sky
This exercise improves the coordination, circulation and flexibility of the joints.
3. Standing in the Wu Chi position, raise your hands to chest level. Rotate the right forearm until the palm faces up and the fingers point left. At the same time, rotate your left forearm until the palm faces down, fingers pointing right. Breathe out as you straighten both arms, keeping the palms flat. Hold for 1 second. Relax and return your arms to their starting position. Repeat the exercise in the opposite direction, left hand moving up and right hand moving down. Practise a total of four times on each side.
It is important to note that only the first three exercises are suitable during pregnancy. The other five exercises are not recommended because of the effect they have on the body. Some exercises have a powerful effect on the circulation or stimulate the internal organs; others involve postures which may cause the woman to over-stretch (hormone changes during pregnancy make a woman’s body particularly prone to over-stretching).
Embrace the tree
This exercise promotes the development of deep breathing, improves balance and strengthens the heart.
4. Standing in the Wu Chi position, raise your arms out in front, palms in. Moving from the hips, turn your upper body as far to the left as you can while you breathe out and raise your hands to face level, palms turned in. Hold for l second, then relax. Breathe in as you turn towards the front, bringing the hands back to their original position. Relax, then perform on the right side. Perform a total of four times on each side. Do not practise this exercise during pregnancy.
Wind blowing the willow
This exercise stretches the lungs and internal organs and strengthens the legs.
5. Standing in the Wu Chi position, move your left arm out to the side and raise it up and over your head, palm down. Breathe out as you bend to your right, transferring all your weight to your right leg. Allow the right arm to relax at your side. Reach over as far as is comfortable and hold for 1 second. Breathe in as you straighten up. Perform on the left side, alternating for a total of four times on each side. Do not practise this exercise during pregnancy.
Circle arms, bend knees
This exercise develops deep breathing, improves balance and strengthens the legs.
6. Standing in the Wu Chi position, raise your arms out to the sides to shoulder height, turning the palms up. Breathing in, continue moving the arms up, forward and over until they are straight in front, palms down. Continue moving the arms downwards, bending the knees and breathing out as you lower yourself into a squatting position, with the heels raised and the hands at a point that is level with the hips. Hold for one second. Breathe in as you straighten up and circle the arms behind and over your head until they return to the original shoulder-height position. Perform the exercise slowly another seven times. Do not practise this exercise during pregnancy.
Keep feet flat on ground massaging your lower back as you flex your knees. Continue flexing while you breathe in and out eight times. Do not practise this exercise during pregnancy.
Twist body, tap kidneys
This exercise stimulates the kidneys and the digestion.
7. Standing in the Wu Chi position, twist the body from side to side on a central axis, swinging the arms. When you turn left, gently tap the the right kidney with the back of the left hand and tap the left side of thewith the right palm. Practise a total of four times on each side. Do not practise this exercise during pregnancy.
Massage the kidneys
This exercise stimulates the kidneys, promotes the circulation and strengthens the legs.
8. Standing in the Wu Chi position, bend the knees slightly. Place your hands in the small of your back, palms out, and move the body up and down by flexing from the knees. Keep theand knees relaxed and feel your hands gently
You can finish a Qigong session with Qigong meditation, which uses breathing, relaxation, intention and visualization to accelerate the flow of Qi around the body and coordinate body, mind and spirit.
Qigong meditation can be performed in a standing, sitting or lying position. When you have chosen a position that is comfortable for you, try to relax completely. Inhale deeply and visualize a concentration of Qi in your lower abdomen. As you slowly exhale, visualize this vital energy force circulating out from the lower abdomen to every part of your body, including your organs, tissues and glands, as far as your extremities. If you are standing, feel your feet making contact with the ground; they are like the roots of a tree sinking into the earth. If you are sitting or lying down, feel all parts of the body that are in contact with the ground linking with the earth. Repeat this pattern of relaxation, deep breathing and visualization to allow healing energy to flow around your body.