Wuxigong.com header image 1

Qigong for Back Problems, Information Transmission and Healing

March 7th, 2008 · Comments Off on Qigong for Back Problems, Information Transmission and Healing

This post talks about what has been going on in the Turnham Green (Chiswick) class and why Taijiwuxigong and Emei Zhi Er Zuang are excellent exercise methods for back problems.  Also students have been asking me about information transmission and I give guidance on this.  I also give some core principles for the preparatory posture. 

Recently in our classes we have been focusing on exercises to strengthen the whole of the spinal column and, in particular, the lower back.  This can help a multitude of health problems of the lower back problem such as sciatica, abdominal distension and lowered sex drive and the more general feelings of aches and pains in that area. In addition to this, because we work on the back this helps with increasing peoples sense of vitality and youthful vigour.  Often people will say, ‘I have no energy!’ and look for foods or supplements to give them energy but much of the time it is a contracted spine and the ensuing accumulation of binqi or toxins which cause this feeling of lethargy and tiredness.  The Chinese have a saying: ‘Bu tong zi tong’.  This means that if the free flow of body fluids and yuanqi (vital force) in the body are disrupted then toxins and disease arise (binqi).  We have been addressing this in the class with foundation (core) and extension (advanced) exercises.  I’d like to respond to a few questions that I have been asked during the classes.  Firstly let’s have a look at some foundation exercises and principles of training.  

Preparatory positionYujiYong ChuanChest Daoyin

The Preparatory Position:This position is very much like TaijiZhanZhuang of the Taiji37 standing postures.  However, because our aim in Taijiwuxigong is for health and self-development we make a very important detail: We sink the shoulders down so that the hands turn outwards and stretch the figures.  This helps to clean the lung meridian expelling binqi (toxins) from yuji (an area on the fleshy part of the thumb on the lung meridian). 

Practitioners should focus on the following points:

  • The muscles of the legs should be relaxed downwards into the yongquan area. Ensure your weight is on the yongquan area (just below the ball in the middle of the foot).  Yongquan means ‘bubbling spring’.  It is where Diqi (earth force) enters the body.  Maybe it only goes to the feet, or not past your aching thighs crying out for you to stop, but persevere, in time you will be able to make it go to your dantien (energy centre in the belly) where it will activate it and increase your own production of Yuanqi (vital force). 
  • Find your centre of gravity by bending slightly forward. 
  • Time should be spent lengthening the joints and the ligaments. Focus on the joints of the spine by pulling up the anus and lower abdominals slightly and pulling the chin slightly back to lengthen the neck. Done properly this will lengthen the entire spine.
  • Keep the eyes open and look in front of you with a large panorama, like you are looking at a large landscape.  Don’t look at the floor it contracts your neck. 
  • Quieten the mind but keep it alert and smile. If you don’t feel like smiling then think of what the Buddha said when he visited the pizza restaurant: ‘Make me one with everything!’ 

By quietening the mind you should loose feelings of expectation and urgency.  Like something great should be happening to you.  Just work on these principles.  I think it’s like a hen sitting on eggs.  If she relaxes completely then she flops and breaks the eggs. She needs to hover over them to keep them warm and although she is excited about the prospect of new life she has been waiting a while and her mind is halfway between excited and asleep-quiet, yet alert. 

After ten or twenty minutes, or even longer you may want to then practise one of the daoyins (moving exercises) like the Chest Daoyin.  However you may just want to persevere just with this. 

When I first started I remember this lovely warm alka-seltzer feeling after three or four months of practise but I couldn’t always get it. It took me a while to be able to really say I understood this exercise.  It started as a pitter-patter on my soles, then a shaking in the legs (different to the shaking caused by muscular tension or the lack of nutrition going to the muscles) then slowly through all my legs. Later it moves throughout your body, activating the dantian and meeting new challenges to its free, unrestricted flow and addressing them with spontaneous movement reactions. As you develop and address your various issues in your body even the most basic foundational exercises change and you appreciate them in a new way.  This is why it is taiji (infinitely large) wuxi (joint refreshment) gong (skill) because there are infinite levels to your practise.  

  Bu Da zuiDownwards forceXie Zhang ZhongActivating Yong quan

Information Transmission: Typically students suffer from aching muscles in the legs. I don’t blame them that after five minutes all they can think of is stopping, especially when they have been at work all day dealing with their own individual pressures.  I understand this and try to help them in their practise by using information transmission.  So what exactly is this then? Well it’s a skill whose function changes according to the situation and the adept’s objectives.  In Taijiwuxigong classes information transmission occurs to help the students along with their practise.  Therefore in the preparatory posture I like to work on the yongquan area and transmit force to that area. I also like to activate the dantian for the practitioner and then give upwards information to the spinal column to lengthen it. Applying downwards force to the front of the body further activates the dantian.  This is also a good time for me to notice any other posture problems or other health issues the student may be experiencing and give them some treatment for this.  It is quite common for a Taijiwuxigong teacher to give healing during a class and my students often say how good they feel after the class and for several days afterwards.  It’s important to note that the information transmitted will usually stay with the student for some days afterwards and it will be of benefit if he or she continues to further practise the exercises in his or her own time.  Another important note is that when the dantian is activated spontaneous movement may or may not arise. If it does it is like the body reconfiguring itself and should (most of the time) be allowed to happen without getting embarrassed.  Consider the common response to bad news.  The body accumulates toxins at the level of the liver and diaphragm, it responds by flapping and pushing downwards causing the breath to deepen and produce long sighs and wails. The toxin leaves via the liver meridian and you feel better. Normally people call this crying but sometimes it is socially inappropriate to express this or people’s lives take turns that cause a lot of emotional issues that is difficult to rid the body of and it stagnates. Therefore when you are in class and spontaneous movement arises consider it a natural, healthy and welcome response to the body’s reconfiguration process and is not offensive to social norms if it is happening to you or others in the group. Common responses not to be offended by are:

  • Burping and farting – caused by anger gas.
  • Strange sounds – caused by a myriad of conditions
  • Strange movements that don’t seem to resemble the exercise that is being practised-again this complicated and caused by a myriad of conditions which can be the subject of a later post 

Er mei Zhi Er Zhuang You Long ZhuangEr mei Zhi Er Zhuang You Long ZhuangEr mei Zhi Er Zhuang You Long ZhuangErmei You long Zhuanpict1957.JPGEr mei Zhi Er Zhuang You Long ZhuangGuan yin plays with childrenWuxi Meditation

Extension exercises: Sometimes I like to give a flavour of some of the harder to perform exercises in the system.  Several of my students suffer from contracted lumbar vertebra. Leading binqi away from these areas can be difficult in some exercises so I have taught two good exercises to do this:  You Long Zhuang (The Swimming Dragon Standing Pole Daoyin) and Tong Zi Bai Guan Yin (Guanyin plays with children).  Both these exercises help to drain the lower back via Pang guan (bladder) meridian that runs down the back of the leg out of the heal. Further they help to create opposite forces from the dantien to the heel and from the dantien through the spine.  In addition to this You Long Zhuang has several other movements to bring the force created through the spine and activate the small circulation.  

Meditation: After all that hard work it is time for a sit down. Meditation without the appropriate preparation can be damaging for your mental as well as physical health and therefore a responsible approach to practising it is adopted. Once the spine is straightened and strengthened with an increased flow of spinal fluid, it is then an appropriate time to do exercises to develop latent mental or spiritual functions.   But that can be a subject for another post. 

Translation notes: When translating Chinese chraracters into the Romance languages there are different translation systems.  So to the beginner the difference between Chi Kung and Qigong or Tai Chi Ch’uan and Taijiquan can be confusing.  I generally like to use Pinyin (the latter translation used amongst the Chinese) and not the Wade-Giles system(the former).

Comments Off on Qigong for Back Problems, Information Transmission and HealingTags: Qigong for health and wellbeing