Internal Strength

Wu Chi the first position

Wuji Posture

All Zhan Zhuang training begins with this position, which is profoundly important. Even at extraordinarily advanced levels of exercise, we begin with a period of quiet standing in the Wu Chi position - the position of primal energy. The Wu Chi position involves simply standing still. It is an opportunity to pay careful attention to the tensions in your body and its nervous system. At the same time it becomes a moment of powerful, deep relaxation in your day. Simple as it may seem, this opening...

Your middle age

Chi Kung Exercises

The years around fifty can be crucial in a person's life. A surprising number of people reach this age and suddenly experience a kind of rapid deterioration and collapse. Some who have had a very hard early life are victims of sudden death through heart attacks and other violent traumas. Many more experience a range of other problems such as spinal pain, frozen shoulders, high blood pressure, loss of self-control, chronic illness, severe depression, and lassitude. All the pressures of life seem...

The sixth position variations

First Position Standing Tree Chi Kung

The next six variants on this position are achieved as you place your hands in each of the subsequent Zhan Zhuang positions Holding your Belly (third position), Standing in the Stream (fourth position), and Holding the Balloon in Front of your Face (fifth position). Do each, first of all placing your full weight on your left leg and the next time on your right leg. PRACTICAL TIPS Do not sink lower than 5cm (2in) in any of these positions when placing your weight on one leg. Just concentrate on...

Selftreatment

Many common ailments arc signals that there is a temporary fault in your internal central-heating system. In the Chinese medical tradition, many complaints are dealt with by paying careful attention to the patterns of energy circulation through the system. Pain, for example, is treated as a signal of a blockage or stagnation at some point in the energy flow. Since Zhan Zhuang exercise is designed to enhance the flow of your energy and help regulate your internal balance, it can help deal with...

Internal Movement

Zhanzhuang Book

Zhan Zhuang training exercises your muscles and your mind. Nothing moves on the outside. The motion is all internal. Some sensations are immediately apparent. You can, for example, feel the muscles in your arms, shoulders, thighs, and calves rapidly reaching the point of exhaustion. As the muscles work harder to hold the position, you can feel your body heat rising. You may begin to sweat and feel your pulse rate speeding up. If you continue, and force yourself to stand still by a supreme...

Aligning mind and body

Hun Yuan Zhuang Postures

When you stand still in the first position, with your body correctly aligned, you are drawing energy Chi from the earth, and accelerating its flow through your body. This practice of standing still is an ancient discipline. The first known reference to it dates back to the oldest and most influential book in the history of world medicine, The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine Huang Ti Nei Ching , thought to have been written about 4,000 years ago. In the opening section, the Emperor...

Understanding Zhan Zhuang

Students of Zhan Zhuang usually want to know all about the theory behind the practice, and where it will take them. Are these exercises of any use Am I hurting myself In the Orient, students must place their complete trust in their master. They know better than to question their teacher's unusual methods. In the West, this tradition of learning is largely unknown. It may therefore help to give just a simplified explanation of what happens as you stand in these positions. As explained in Chapter...

Starting Ba Duan

Duan Jin Exercises

Once you begin these exercises, you should make every effort to do them regularly and to do the full set of eight. Just a few minutes every day will be sufficient. This is the way to get the full benefit from them. Their natural life-enhancing effect will not be nearly as pronounced if you do them in bursts for a few days and then do nothing for a week or two. Once you have learned the eight exercises, and are smoothly stretching into all the positions, you can move on to the more advanced...

How to Use this Book

Zhan Zhuang

This book will help you master the basic Zhan Zhuang system of Chi Kung internal energy exercise. The instructions are based on the experience of many masters and their students if you follow them precisely you will be in safe hands. Part One introduces the warm ups and the first two standing exercises and outlines the sensations that you may feel when beginning or progressing to a new level. Part Two takes you on to the intermediate level, with a more powerful series of warm up exercises, and...

A ripe old age

Basic Qigong Exercises

As we age we usually begin to suffer all sorts of ailments. Difficulty with walking is common, as are digestion troubles, high blood pressure, brittle bones, incontinence, and low energy. Even if you take up Zhan Zhuang at an advanced age, you will feel the benefits. Your digestion will improve, as will your bladder control, and your bones will strengthen. You are almost certain to feel that your energy is being restored, that you feel younger in yourself, and that you have an increasing...

Growing Like A Tree

Let us assume you have been practising Zhan Zhuang fairly regularly. Suppose it is six months since you first started. You find that you are able to stand in the second position Holding the Balloon for at least 20 minutes without having to lower your arms or stand up. The initial aching and trembling is gone. It is still not easy, but by relaxing and using the techniques for coping with your rebellious nervous system, you can sustain the posture. Now is the time to try the next three positions....

Skeletal problems

If you have a spinal disorder or a misalignment of your vertebrae that gives you back pain, you should seek special treatment. But if the cause of back pain is more simple, such as tension or fatigue, Zhan Zhuang exercises can help. Stand for two or three minutes in the second Zhan Zhuang position - Holding the Balloon see pp. 34-35 . Then do an adaptation of the eighth Ba Duan Jin exercise, Shaking the Body Wards Off all Illnesses, as follows. Rise up on the balls of your feet put the backs of...

Standing like a tree

Zhang Zhuang Standing

You are like an elm growing. You feel everything happening within your entire body, from your roots deep in the soil, to the tiniest leafreaching out into the air. You can hear yourself moving inside. You are growing, listening silentlyto your entire body inhaling and exhaling. A living tree breathes with its entire body. Every cell ofevery leafis breathing. Deep in the earth, the roots are breathing too. As you stand, you do the same. Open every pore ofyour body...

Infants and children

Zhan Zhuang Child

Children are just bursting with energy. Sometimes they seem to have too much and simply don't know what to do with it. Often they have trouble getting some balance in their behaviour. It's easy for them to get carried away with extremes of frantic activity followed by sudden exhaustion, or to be injured falling down or running around. Doing a little Zhan Zhuang can make a big difference at this early age and greatly help the development of young children when their whole bodies are going...

Nervous System

If you have a headache there is a sequence of four practical steps you can take to ease the pain and eventually clear it completely. In my experience, following these steps helps relieve the symptoms of headaches, even migraines, in eight out often cases. First, stand in the second Zhan Zhuang position - Holding the Balloon see pp. 34-35 , for two minutes. This is essential to build up your blood and, therefore, Chi circulation. Second, do the fourth Ba Duan Jin exercise Looking Back Like a Cow...

The Moving Balloon

Balloon Qigong

The fusion of your mind and body reaches a new level with these exercises. The effect on your internal energy7 is amazing. Now you will begin to understand why it has been so essential to work systematically through the previous stages of your Zhan Zhuang training in order to reach this point. GROWING PRESSURE Stand in the second position Holding the Balloon see p. 35 . After you feel comfortable in this position, make sure your fingers are held open so that you can imagine holding little balls...

Practical tips

The benefits of Zhan Zhuang practice result from inner growth and transformation. The fundamental changes begin to occur in your internal organs and nervous system. Without unusual sensitivity or training, most of us cannot sense these at first, whereas we can all feel the immediate effect of hard muscular activity such as jogging or weight training. The initial impact of Zhan Zhuang takes place deep inside you, like an explosion in the depths of the sea, and so it is all the more important to...

Drawing a Bow to Each Side Resembles Shooting an Eagle

This exercise places the emphasis on your thorax the home of your heart and lungs - thus greatly improving the circulation of blood and oxygen. It also improves the flow of energy in your small intestine. STARTING THE EXERCISE Starting in the Wu Chi position, unlock your knees (see p. 64). Then gently raise your hands so that they face your chest. Imagine that you are holding an invisible balloon between your arms and vour chest. 2. Then, while breathing in, slowly bring your arms back-round to...

Zhan Zhuang for women

Unlike some exercise systems, which treat women and men differently, Zhan Zhuang can be practised in exactly the same way by both sexes. Because of a woman's child-bearing capacity, there are some special circumstances in her life where Zhan Zhuang exercises can be of particular help before and during menstrual periods and in connection with childbirth. THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE The menstrual cycle causes major changes in a woman's body every month. Many women experience pain during their periods,...

Staying relaxed

Qigong Zhan Zhuang Explained

As explained earlier in this chapter, the very first step in Zhan Zhuang is to train your body to relax. By systematically relaxing your body from top to toe you start the process not only of calming your mind but also of increasing the ability of your mind to focus on relaxation. In this way, although you are working, your mind is at rest. Even this can prove difficult to sustain for long, since your mind must continue to order your straining muscles to relax, and carry you through the initial...

The Tree in the Wind

Second Position Qigong

They dive and scatter in the wind. High distantclouds trail long pale shadows on the earth the daylight changes with the moving sky. The tree stands open to the heavens, touched by every movement ofthe air. The driving ivind curls round its leaves. Its branches shake against the sky. Gusts trace their fiying patterns in the grass. The ivoody stems of saplings sway and twist. Small bushes wave like slender wands in children's hands. The tree stands guard, its mighty...

Domestic work

When washing up, dusting, vacuuming, making beds, or doing any other tasks around the home, look carefully at what you are doing. Are you gripping things so tightly that your knuckles go white Are you tensing all the muscles in your arms and neck Are you twisting your spine into awkward positions Any time you find yourself doing these things, stop. Straighten up. Let the tension drain away from your muscles and then see if you can use the basic principles of Zhan Zhuang to accomplish the task,...

Returning to health

Zhang Zhuang Benefits

If you are in poor health or out of shape, or if you are a patient undergoing treatment, or recovering from an illness or an operation, you can adapt the Zhan Zhuang system to suit you. Each of these positions not only gives you support, but, in Chinese medical theory, gently increases the circulation of Chi in your body. Caution You should not attempt Zhan Zhuang without the advice of a competent instructor or your doctor, which you should follow in all cases. After a few minutes of warm up...

Energy from the galaxy

There is a level of higher training that may interest some readers. It can be reached only after long, dedicated practice. The exercises on pages 124 to 135 will have increased the power of your mind. The exercise that follows makes great demands on that power and stretches your mind into the solar system. The ideal time for this exercise is sunrise. Stand facing the rising sun. Let it be the destination for your orbiting energy and bring back into yourself the power of its rays. FOCUS YOUR...

Looking Back Like a Cow Gazing at the Moon

Wingchun Kidney Breathing

This is one of the most potent of the eight exercises. It has a powerful effect on your central nervous system and the circulation of both blood and Chi to your head. It stimulates the vital power of your kidneys. It also strengthens the activity of your eyeballs, your neck and shoulder muscles, and your nerves, and is excellent for alleviating high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries. CAUTION Do not practise this Ba Duan Jin exercise when pregnant. Begin by lifting your arms from the...

Supporting the Sky with Both Hands Regulates All Internal Organs

This opening exercise regulates all internal organs, from your heart and lungs in your upper torso through to your kidneys and intestines in your lower abdomen. It relieves fatigue, increases inhalation, and helps prepare your body for the exercises that follow. It also helps invigorate the muscles and bones of your back and waist and can help correct poor posture of the upper back and shoulders. STARTING THE EXERCISE Start in the Wu Chi position feet a shoulder-width apart, shoulders relaxed,...

The daily cycle

You can practise your Zhan Zhuang training at any time in the day by adapting the positions to suit your daily activities. For example, you can practise the second position - Holding the Balloon -while sitting in the office (page 146), when travelling (page 150), or while watching television (page 152). Even practising for a few minutes will be refreshing, and the effect will intensify as you build up your Zhan Zhuang practice every day. From the moment you get out of bed in the morning and...

Lifting heavy weights

Lifting Heavy Objects

At home, at your work place, or in your leisure activities, you are likely to have to lift a heavy weight at some point. It might be a box of papers or soft drinks it might be a table or a piece of equipment. Whatever it is and whatever the circumstances, you can apply your knowledge of Zhan Zhuang to lift the weight more easily and help prevent injury. POINTS TO REMEMBER There are eight points to remember for both lifting and putting down heavy weights. Notice the difference in the sequence of...

Holding the Balloon in Front of your Face the fifth position

This next position is the most taxing so far. It places much greater demands on your legs and arms, and therefore requires a higher level of endurance. Even after you have practised holding the first four Zhan Zhuang positions for some time, gradually increasing the duration as described, you will probably find this position extremely difficult to sustain. Many of your muscles will be almost certain to tense up and you may feel as if some are about to explode. You may well sweat profusely and...

Shifting your Weight

There are two variations on the initial two standing positions that will help strengthen the muscles of your legs. They involve shifting your weight forward and backward. By leaning slightly forward you strengthen your calf muscles. By leaning backward you develop the muscles in your thighs. Increasing the power of both muscle groups is important for your future progress in the Zhan Zhuang system. A variant is to shift your weight from one side to the other so that you stand with 90 per cent of...

Preparing For Energy

After you have practised the first two standing exercises of Zhan Zhuang for several months, you will notice that important changes will have started taking place in your body. Some of the blockages in the pathways of your internal energy will have been cleared. As you stand, you will begin to feel the unusual sensations of trembling and tingling as explained in Chapter 3-Your oxygen-enriched blood and Chi will be flowing faster and more vigorously throughout your system. You are ready to move...

Breathing And Relaxing

The gently curved positions of Zhan Zhuang are based on that original state. They enable your energy to redirect itself properly through the curves of your major joints. But there are two other elements that are vital to the rediscovery of your original, natural energy. These are your breath, and the condition of your mental and nervous systems. The state of your mental and nervous systems has a profound effect on your breathing and the functioning of your entire...

Standing in the Stream the fourth position

Zhan Zhuang training advances in stages. Students progress from one position to the next at a careful pace. You should therefore move to this next position only when you feel you have become comfortable standing in the previous position for up to, say, 20 minutes. You are slowly building tremendous endurance. This next position will take you to a new level of stamina. Imagine that you are standing in a stream, with the current flowing toward you. Bend your knees, and sink down about 10cm (4in)....

Roots And Branches

New leaves grow every year. Twigs grow longer at their tips. Trunks and branches become thicker. The roots, too, thicken and lengthen. Zhan Zhuang training will also affect all parts of your body. This is partly because of the effect of the increased flow of Chi through the network of meridians, partly because of the strengthening of your cardiovascular and nervous systems, and partly because of the impact on various muscle groups. The Zhan Zhuang system...

Rising Up on One Leg the ninth position

This is the most advanced physical stage of the Zhan Zhuang training presented in this book. Do not attempt it until you are comfortable with the previous positions. There is no point in straining your muscles and exhausting yourself by trying out such advanced exercises without having carefully laid the internal foundations. There is an advanced stage to this last position see facing page this will greatly increase the benefits of the position to your energy system. Relax thoroughly before you...

Energy In Daily Life

Energy is always circulating throughout your body. It permeates all living tissue and all organ systems. But the pressures of your day-to-day life, the physical hassles and mental stresses, can cause energy to stagnate. It can become blocked and, over time, cease to flow to vital organs. Tense, contracted muscles produce stiff and abrupt movements that block the natural, sustained flow of your energy. These hard, hasty movements ultimately slow you down because they inhibit and then exhaust...

Clenching the Fists Increases Strength

Duan Jin Chart

This exercise develops the flow of Chi from your feet through your entire body and extends it through your hands and eyes. It excites your cerebral cortex and related nerves, and speeds the circulation of blood and oxygen in your cardiovascular system. This is not a punching exercise - it is designed to strengthen the flow of your internal power it must be done slowly and calmly with great concentration. Each movement begins gently and the full power comes in only at the end of each extension....

Holding your Belly the third position

This position, in which your arms form a large, expansive downward curve, is a restful progression from Holding the Balloon. It is a powerful exercise in itself, and it also helps to gather the increased flow of Chi in your body and focus it on your Tan Tien see p. 42 . The imaginary balloons that you held in the second position will also help you in this one. The balloons give you support and reduce the tension in your muscles see also p. 98 . By holding imaginary balls between your fingers...

Maintaining your health

In addition to regular Zhan Zhuang practice, there are a number of straightforward steps you can take to keep your whole internal system in balance. These help to regulate the generation and flow of your energy. KEEPING AN EVEN TEMPERATURE Don't let yourself become extremely cold or hot. When you go out in winter and summer, protect yourself from sustained exposure to temperature extremes. In summer, if you are very hot and sweaty from exercise, keep your clothes on until you can cool down...

Going Beyond

After about a year of the basic training - the first nine positions -you may feel ready to progress to a higher standard. To many Western people, a year may sound a long time, but if you understand that profound change and growth take time, you will have the patience to continue practising. Remember that you are learning how to realign - and even replace - some of the more distorted and disrupted energy patterns of your life. That sort of radical change cannot be accomplished overnight. Over...

The Buddha performs Ba Duan

Shaolin Point Defense System Chart

If you go into a Chinese arts and crafts shop, take a look at the rows of little statues and porcelain figurines. You will find the traditional gods of happiness and good fortune. You will almost certainly find the beautiful goddess of mercy and compassion, Kwan Yin. Among the many figures you may also come across a smiling Buddha with a little fat belly see the photograph on page 62 . He is standing up with his arms stretched over his head. His palms press against the sky and his fingers face...

Touching the Feet with Both Hands Reinforces the Kidneys and Loins

Duan Jin Book

This exercise is good for the muscles of your lower back and legs and for stretching your spine. It is also beneficial for the internal organs of your lower abdomen. The movements of your waist actually bring every tissue and organ of your abdomen into play. The whole exercise strengthens your kidneys, your adrenal glands, and the arteries, veins, and nerves associated with them. Since your kidneys play a vital role in regulating the water metabolism of your entire body, this exercise helps...

Resting while standing

Despite all your efforts to relax in one of the Zhan Zhuang positions, you may feel that you are becoming tired and tense. Pain in your arms or shoulders may often be the truest signal of the accumulating tension. In that case, you have three possible choices, as outlined below. First, try again to let your mind go systematically down your body, telling all the points to relax see p. 44 . This is the most beneficial for your entire system -and the method you should aim to develop. The second...

Hot Shower a Cold Shower

You can attempt this exercise once you have warmed up and stood for several minutes in the Wu Chi position see p. 29 . It will increase your stamina and help you to use the vitality of your imagination to transcend extreme physical discomfort. PREPARATION STAGE After standing in the Wu Chi position for several minutes, move into any one of the other Zhan Zhuang positions. From the position you have chosen, sink down, remembering not to let your knees come forward 01 lt er your toes. After a few...

Using imagery

The following exercise assumes that you have managed to perform the initial mental relaxation exercises described in Chapter 2. It takes you beyond conventional thinking, and aims to achieve a perfectly quiescent mind. The inner commotion and noisy activity of your mind (the usual stream of memories, inner dialogue, and mental anxiety) is stilled and your mind becomes extraordinarily sensitive and alert. Reaching this stage is one of the hardest things for any human being to do. You are...

The dentist the bricklayer and the wallpaper hanger

Three people I know well use Zhan Zhuang in their work. One is a young bricklayer. He has started using gentle, rhythmic movements while he lays down the mortar and places the bricks. He tells me that since becoming a student ofZhan Zhuang, he is able to keep at this strenuous work without getting tired, and he has far fewer accidents. Another student, an older man, is a wallpaper hanger. He tells me he has developed a set ofeasy, flowing gestures for brushing the paste on the wall, gently...

Learning To Stand

The Zhan Zhuang system begins with two basic standing exercises. These start to build up and release the natural flow of energy inside you. The first position, a simple standing posture pp. 28-29 , enables you to relax your body in preparation for the other exercises. The second position, Holding the Balloon pp. 34-35 , is the key position in the whole system. It is essential to become thoroughly comfortable in both these positions before moving on to the exercises in Part Two, the intermediate...

Qigong Advanced Level

After a year or so of regular practice, you can move on to the next level. Keeping your feet flat on the ground, lower yourself to a full squat. Remember to breathe out completely as you go down. This time your hands should brush over your toes as they circle down and around. Your circling arms will also help your balance. Look straight ahead. Try to keep your back vertical but not stiff. Don't crouch too far forward, but don't stiffen up so much that you lose your balance and fall backward....

Extending One Foot Forward the eighth position

In this position, the pressure on the leg bearing most of your weight is greatly increased. It takes a long time to build up the strength, balance, and stamina required to sustain the posture. Don't try to get around the physical and mental obstacles - just persist, constantly being alert to your position and telling your muscles to relax. 1. To begin, stand in the seventh position - Holding the Ballon One Side (see p. 112), with your weight fully on your left leg. Bend your left knee slightly...