Gradually developing Yi Qi Liu Xing*
This schedule is taught by Master Li Feng-Shan in Taipei, whose program I participated successfully for two years. I can sincerely recommend it. GN.
1. Annotations :
The style taught in this school combines both the quiet and the motional method, supplying mind and body. Traditional exercises of both, Buddhism and Taoism are equally applied.
Leading from motion to quietness, the quietness will bear motion and finally leading to a state of joining motion and quietness together. The methods major point lies in its potential to guide everyone into the Tao (The Way), achieve the Tao, and enable people to practice the Tao in their daily life, such getting one step closer to the goal of a better, harmonious world.
The levels are divided into 5 parts.
Part one : The qigong of nourishing life and health
Relaxation exercise: Releases tense, relieves fatigue, strengthens willpower for better concentration and association.
Swinging hands: Drives out internal heat, expels poison, prevents and helps to treat diseases.
Breathing exercise: Exhale the worn out, inhale the pristine, this exercise exchanges the polluted qi in the body.
Concentrating the qi: Supplements the original qi.
Self-adjustment: Early recognition of unhealthy changes in the body, furthermore their correction into a more entire health structure.
The 8 Brocades: Increasing the flexibility and endurance of the sinews and strengthens the bones.
Meditative sitting: Enhances the stability of the mind.
Clarifying lecture: Explanations on the exercises' correct body posture, breath and mind (The 3 Adjustments).
Part two : The qigong of Zen**-Meditation
Breathing exercise: One step deeper practicing the "Old out-new in"-exercise, described above.
The six healing sounds: Gaining the equilibrium of the 5 organ-systems, liver, heart, spleen/pancreas, lungs, and kidneys.
The 12 precious steps: Sitting exercises for the elimination of the myriad diseases.
Meditation: Progressing further from growing stability to stronger concentration of the mind.
Emphasis on understanding the concepts before, while and after doing the exercises, examining the best selection and appreciation of the 6 brilliant ways to study the Tao.
Part Three : The ultimate qi
Body flexibility exercise: Strengthens the tenacity of the whole body ( sinews, bones, muscles, skin )
Long-life exercise: (Gain and preserve longevity) Strengthens the whole body's structure and improves the qigong further in order to gain skillful nimbleness.
Meditation: Progressing from growing stability and concentration to increase the keenness of the sense organs.
Lectures: Narrating the course of understanding the way of the 4 meditations and 8 settlements.
Part four : Tai Chi Chuan - Qigong
Tai Chi Chuan practice: Increasing the agility of the body and the defense skills.
Pushing hands: Practicing the senses ( keenness of sense organs and skin touch reception as well as intuition of Ching, Qi and Shen) in order to a better reception towards the pushing hands partner.
Tai Chi mind exercises: Nurturing the state of mind that absolutely preserves the equilibrium and harmony under all possible circumstances.
Part five: Advanced class for practicing and improving the Tao
This part has actually no hierarchial degree. Besides the repetition of the exercises in the 4 parts above for constantly improving one's skills, it furthermore applies more depth in the areas of internal and external Tai Chi styles, the way of practicing inner and outer balance, Taoist and Buddhist exercises, understanding, practicing, demonstrating and applying the Tao in the daily life.
*=Yi Qi Liu Xing has several meanings on different layers of depth; the most common meaning can be translated as propelling the perpetual Qi., it can also mean the circle of primal qi.
**=Here the word Zen is applied in the original sense (sanskrit) dhyana or (chinese) chan, meaning deep meditation.
Explanations of the exercises above:
All exercises should be done six times.
Relaxation exercise: Begin with the head and face to relax, "feel" yourself into each body part, feel how it relaxes. Go down to the shoulders, arms, hands, back, buttock, legs, feet, then up again to chest, abdomen, pelvis, including anal muscles.
Swinging hands: In most of those exercises all swinging motions should be withput muscle power in the arms, let your arms and hands hang and swing as the ones of a toy puppet. First swing naturally forward up and backward. Second inhale deeply while moving arms and hands up with your hands beside your head. Then bend slightly forward while exhaling and let go of your arms, making them swing behind your back. Third draw large circles besides your body, swinging thrice forward and thrice backward. Fourth move hands up besides your head to the look left, swing down. Then do the same to the right and swing down. Fifth Raise arms up to shoulder height, one pointing forward, one backward. The move them into opposite directions: Left arm clockwise, right arm counter-clockwise. Then change: Right arm clockwise, left arm widdershins. Sixth swinging arms to one side with palms up and one leg (resting on the heel) pointing to that direction. The turn body to the other side with leg and arms swithing sides but palms up.
Then begin the padding part of the exercise: move your torso rotating to left and right, while your arms swing completely without muscle control padding your left and right side of the pelvis. Increase speed a little so that now your hands pad the hips. Then sink a little down in the knees when your hands swing close to your hips, so that they now touch your chest. Next step lower again, let them pad your arms. Then sink lower and let your hand fly higher, one under the armpit, the other on the shoulder. Then change the torsos movements from rotating to for- and backward bents and let hands pad on the same side under pit and on shoulder. Finally move one arm in the front over your shoulder the other up your back, try to make them meeting each other.
Breathing exercise: While inhaling slowly raise your hands in front of the body, twist them out-and upwards, when reaching your chest level. Look up to your hands and follow all movements with your full attention, don't think other things. When your hands reach the highest point above your head, part them and move them slowly down again in a wide circle while you concentrate on exhaling.
Concetrating the Qi: In this exercise both in- and exhaling is done through the nose. First close your eyes. Slowly move your hands in an opening motion to each side of your upper legs, palms first forward, then upward, inhale. Continue motion and inhalation while slowly moving your hands upwards in a large circle until they reach the point above your head and palms connect. Begin slowly to exhale while you move your hands down in front of your body in a hadn position that looks like an Indian or Thai greeting motion. When reaching your chest twist hands forward and down, then continue to move them down until they are about in height of your navel. Place them there, with palms crossed over point about 3 inches below the level. Concentrate on this point and breath several times slowly and deeply.
Self-adjustment: Raise your hands, make fists, bend ellbows and stretch head and neck up and back, spine bent inwards as if comfortably yawning in a narrow place, simultaniously inhale.
Then bend forward and move hands above your feet,while you slowly exhale and squat down. Sink completely into a squatted position, hands on the ground, head hanging, every muscle relaxed, the whole body only supported by your legs and folded hands. Let all "hang" down and breath slowly.
Then, after 30-60 sec. or so move up only with your buttock until your legs are straight, but the rest of your body is still hanging down suspended, swinging lightly. Don't use the necks's or other upper muscles.
Then bend your neck with the face looking forward and forming a straight line with the spine. Legs and torso should be forming an 90 degree angle, arms hanging down. The move upper body up into standing position again and pull shoulders and arms slightly back to stretch.
The Eight Brocades:
1. Supporting the sky (71)
2. Bowshooting on a horseback
3. Single hand adjusts spleen and stomach (p130)
4. Turning the head to watch the heels
5. Boxing stance with firm grasp and wide eyes (102)
6. Standing on the toes and raising the heels
7. Swaying head and buttocks to left middle and right
8. Touching the toes
6 Healing Sounds: All sounds are produced in the exhaling phase, repeated altogether six times
1. The "Xu" (hsu) sound for the liver, element wood
Cross hands with palms in front of the Tan Tien. Raise the head and look up while inhaling. Then- when exhaling- lower head and look more and more down, such that you have formed a semi-circle of almost 180 degrees with your view motion. Alway look as far as possible.
2. The "He" sound for the heart, element fire
Raise both hands at the sides until they are in line with the shoulders. While exhaling with the "he" sound bend ellbows with hands inward each describing a semi-circle until hands are in front of the chest, palms downward. Then lower them slowly until they reach the sides to the legs again.
3. The "Hu" sound for the spleen, element earth
Raise hands in front of your chest, palms up and then turn the outward. Then the left hand pushing with its palm up a 45° angle with the head and the right downward 45° to the legs. Eyes follow the upper hand. Exhale ("Hu") drooping both arms until they hang down normally again..
4. The "Sss" sound for the lungs, element metal
Raise hands with palms up until chest height, turn them and push outward into "cross" position arms in one line, but with 90 degrees between hand and wrist, then lower hands slowly while exhaling and droop arms and hands, line until they reach the normal hanging position again. The head is raised during inhalation and slowly bends down during exhalation.
5. The "Blowing" sound for the kidneys, element water
While inhaling put hands with palms together behind the back, part and raise them with slightly passing by the kidneys and on until they are both at the chest with palms pointing down. Lower them slowly, while exhaling with the sound of "blowing out a candle"*** and slightly sink down and bend knees and back until palms touch your knees. This sound is not recommended to be applied without combination of the other five.
6. The "Xi" (hsi) sound for the triple burner, grand renewal
Hands raise up until chest-shoulder height and inhale , then when exhaling through the nose form a circle to unite hands into the "reading book" position. Raise them into your face into a "drinking from the rice bowl" position while inhaling again and head with the face covering hands moves up and exhale with the "xi" sound while hands move down in front of your body, fingertips slightly touching each other, palms pointing towards your body.
***=Only teachers from oral traditions know this, while the most self-thaught "masters" and their students insist on saying the sound "chui" (pronounced tschueyy), which means blowing. This error is common in many teachers from the Chinese mainland and shows that mere knowledge from books can be misleading if it is unguided.
The eight brocades
1. Stand with heels touching, feet in 45° position. Fold your hands and raise them palms up while inhaling. When reaching chest height turn them out and upwards while raising your body until you stand on your toes with palms stretched up. Exhale whilst slowly get down to your soles again and moving hands down in a big circle around your body (similar to the breathing exercise).
2. Stand with legs wide apart and "sit down" a little as deep as you can bear for a while. Inhale and move arms to the left side in a circular, round movement until the left hand is stretched and the right before your left shoulder as if holding a bow. Exhale and close hands to fists. Inhale and "draw the bow" sharply focussing a point afar you're aiming at. Exhale with a sharp sound while the right hand "releases the bowstring" i.a. changes from fist to a plain hand. Slowly droop arms down and raise them up on the other side, where you do the same.
3. Raise hands in front of you unfolded but with palms up whilst inhaling. When reaching upper belly height turn one hand with palm up, one hand with palm down while your eyes follow the upper hand. Then move upper hand down in a semi-circle (like in the breathing exercise) during exhalation.
4. Stand with heels touching, feet in 45° position. Slowly turn your head to the side as if wanting to watch your heels. Turn head back and slightly down as far as possible but don't use force and don't raise your shoulders- keep them relaxed. Change to the other side.
5. Stand with legs wide apart and "sit down" a little as deep as you can bear for a while. Keep your lower forearm in the soft part of your waist with fists protuding to each side palms up, knuckles down. Your spine should be straight head looking fiercefully forward. Exhale sudden through the nose as in 2. while stretching one fist forward making an 180° inward turn (knuckles up, fingernails down). Inhale and make a clasping motion with the stretched hand as if grasping an enemy by the clothes in an outward semi-circle of 180°, close to fist and tear the fist towards you back to the original position. Eyes and head follow the hand! Do the same on the right side.
6. Stand with heels touching, feet in 45° position. Raise to your toes while opening the jaw without opening the lips. Then relax and drop with all your body back onto the feet, allowing the teeth to "click", when upper and lower jaw meet again.
7. Stand with legs wide apart and "sit down" a little as deep as you can bear for a while. Arms rest with thumbs pointing towards yourself on your knees ellbows outwards and head loking forward. The spine is bent inward making the back looking hollow. Then move the head to the side until it has done a 45° angle. Look down and bend spine outward looking like a hunchback while head moves to the other side in a semi-circle. Then move again to the other side with the head looking forward and spine hollow. The second time look down and bend spine outward looking like a hunchback while head moves to the other side in a semi-circle. The second time move to the other side with the head looking forward and spine hollow but stop in the middle when the head looks straight forward, the same as in the starting position. Then change direction from clockwise to counter-clockwise or vice versa.
8. Stand with heels touching, feet in 45° position. Fold hands with palms up and move them up until chest height like in 1. but when twisting palms out and down push arms down again until they are back in front of the pubic area. Then move arms with hand still folded in semi-circle out and up until they are above your head as in 1. Inhale slowly during these movements. Then bend forward in your waist with arms still above your head and exhale all of a sudden when going down (be careful not to fall forward) until your folded hands with palms down point to the ground. Legs should be stretched, knees locked while swinging down a little to bend the tendons of the knees. During that time you can release the last remaining rests of air in your lungs. Then while inhaling move up in the same fashion you moved down, arms stretched, palms pointing away fom you. When they reach again the highest point above your head twist hands downward, palms pointing down and exhale while you slowly let them sink down in front of your body again.