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 certain types of common ailments.

The pages that follow describe how to deal with problems in your respiratory system (below and opposite); your digestion (p. 178); your nervous system (pp. 180-182); your circulation (p. 183); and your bones and joints (p. 184).

Respiratory disorders

COMMON COLDS

As soon as you feel a cold coming you should avoid all milk products, since these stimulate mucus production. Then try the following regime in the evening. Drink one or two glasses of freshly filtered or purified water with a spoonful of honey. Have a long, hot bath. After drying off, put on a tracksuit, pyjamas, or other loose-fitting leisure wear. Stand in one of the Zhan Zhuang positions for as long as you can. Try to stand in that one position for a longer time than usual. For example, if you normally hold one of the standing positions for 20 minutes, listen to a half-hour tape or watch a 30-minute television programme while standing. Then go to sleep. Do your normal training next morning and repeat the anti-cold procedure in the evening, if necessary.

If you have a very bad cold, take your hot bath after standing in the Zhan Zhuang position. First stand as long as you possibly can, until you are sweating. Then dry off all the sweat and take a very hot bath (as hot as you can bear it), before going to sleep.

COUGHS

If you want to shake off a cough, try doing the following. First, do the second Ba Duanjin exercise: Drawing a Bow to Each Side (see pp. 68-69). Keep your palms and fingers at right angles to your extended arms in order to get the maximum stretch in your wrists. After that, swing both your arms up slowly, then around in a full circle, 20 to 30 times. Finally, place both your hands, one on top of the other, over your throat. Slowly and firmly slide them down from your throat to the middle of your chest. Repeat this last action 8 to 10 times.

The effect of these simple exercises is first to build up your energy, then to use it to calm down the "rebellious Chi" rising up in your chest and throat.

ASTHMA

If you suffer from asthma, you should do the full set of eight Ba Duanjin exercises every day. These are marvellous for your whole system and are well known for their long-term effect on anyone who suffers from chronic, debilitating conditions such as this.

In the short term, to help you with your present condition, you should first stand in the second Zhan Zhuang position — Holding the Balloon (see pp. 34-35), for two minutes. Then, do the first Ba Duan Jin exercise: Supporting the Sky with Both Hands (see pp. 66-67). Pay careful attention to the full stretch, which helps inhalation. Follow this with the third Ba Duanjin exercise: Holding Up a Single Hand (see pp. 70-71). Again, pay careful attention to the full stretch required in the exercise. Finally, do the eighth exercise: Shaking the Body (see p. 80).

You must try to do these exercises every day in addition to regular Zhan Zhuang training. This is particularly important in view of the persistent, recurring nature of asthma. Over time, you will see the difference.

Zhang Zhuang Benefits

MEDICAL BENEFITS Most people find that their breathing becomes deeper, slower, and more vigorous as a result of Zhan Zhuang training. Over time, like top athletes, their breathing rate reduces from 10 to 20 times per minute to 4 to 6 times. In one study the measurement of the volume of ventilation showed an increase of 33 per cent. Breathing becomes smoother as the movement of the diaphragm becomes more powerful (see also "Medical Benefits", p. 183).

MEDICAL BENEFITS Most people find that their breathing becomes deeper, slower, and more vigorous as a result of Zhan Zhuang training. Over time, like top athletes, their breathing rate reduces from 10 to 20 times per minute to 4 to 6 times. In one study the measurement of the volume of ventilation showed an increase of 33 per cent. Breathing becomes smoother as the movement of the diaphragm becomes more powerful (see also "Medical Benefits", p. 183).

Zhan Zhuang exercise is being used successfully in some hospitals in China for the treatment of tuberculosis and chronic ailments such as bronchial asthma.

Digestion

INDIGESTION AND NAUSEA Indigestion and nausea are often caused by abdominal pressure. To relieve the symptoms, first stand for only two or three minutes in the second position -Holding the Balloon (see pp. 34-35). Then place both your hands, one on top of the other, on your belly just below your breastbone, and then rub your stomach as explained on page 174.

If you have a lot of stomach pain or think you are about to vomit, then squat down against the nearest wall (see below, right). Your feet should be flat on the ground and your lower back should rest against the wall. Let your forearms rest on top of your knees, or gently grasp your hands in front of your knees. Stay like that for a few minutes. It is a surprisingly restful position and has a powerful effect on abdominal discomfort.

WEIGHT PROBLEMS Some people worry a great deal about their weight. For some this is just another form of anxiety. Others have real weight problems and need either to gain or lose weight. The regular practice of Zhan Zhuang naturally adjusts your body's metabolism and helps, over time, to bring you to your appropriate weight. The whole Zhan Zhuang system plus Ba Duan Jin will produce this effect — not overnight like a crash diet, but carefully and naturally as your entire body adjusts to its new state of health.

Some people experience pain in the stomach if they are hungry, miss a regular meal, or have a long delay before eating. The pain will be eased by standing in the second Zhan Zhuang position for two minutes and then squatting against the wall for a few minutes.

Squatting with your lower back against a wall is surprisingly restful and will help abdominal discomfort

Zhan Zhuang

CONSTIPATION

Usually constipation results from inadequate movement in the digestive system. Try Zhan Zhuang to encourage proper internal movement. First stand either in the second position - Holding the Balloon (see pp. 34-35) or in the third position — Holding your Belly (see pp. 84-85). Stand still for two or three minutes. Relax your upper body. Then slowly tighten and relax the muscle of your rectum. Continue to do this as you stand. It should be the only muscle moving in your body. The movement will have a very strong effect on the rest of vour intestinal tract.

Holding the Balloon

Holding your Belly

MEDICAL BENEFITS Students of Zhan Zhuang usually notice increased digestive activity. This results from the strengthening and balancing of the contractions that pass food through the intestines. The major benefit is to reduce the likelihood of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and to regulate daily digestion. Medical studies in China have shown that Zhan Zhuang exercise is excellent for the relief of constipation. Patients who had bowel movements only once every three days or even less frequently, resumed a dally movement after starting basic exercises. Zhan Zhuang is also used in the treatment of gastric and duodenal ulcers.

Coping with Asthma

Coping with Asthma

If you suffer with asthma, you will no doubt be familiar with the uncomfortable sensations as your bronchial tubes begin to narrow and your muscles around them start to tighten. A sticky mucus known as phlegm begins to produce and increase within your bronchial tubes and you begin to wheeze, cough and struggle to breathe.

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