Vision of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Life: Second Pillar – Body Movement (part II)
The basics of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the holistic view of maintaining healthy use and cultivation of the three types of energy: Jing, Shen, and Qi. Jing energy is our essence and cannot be increased, so when it is gone, we are no more. Shen energy is mental/spiritual energy; and Qi energy is vital energy that is in us and all around us. The latter two energies can be created and cultivated to improve and extend the use of Jing energy.
Part I of this series of articles explained that the basis for living longer and better is by influencing the use of Jing energy through the air we breathe. Therefore, meditation is considered the first and most important pillar to healthy living.
The second pillar in Traditional Chinese Medicine is Body Movement, i.e., we must exercise in order to cultivate Qi. So now, we combine deep breathing with exercise to strengthen Qi energy circulation along the meridian channels throughout our bodies and thus re-balancing our stagnant, excess, or deficient energy.
More than 4000 years ago, the Chinese developed such exercises called Qi Gong. These slow fluid movements with rhythmic breathing increase flexibility, mobility and balance, thus promoting overall health and well-being.
For those who have never tried Qi Gong, they may think that these movements are easy to do. In part, this is true because it does not directly work with muscle building or aerobics. Qi Gong mostly works our internal force - Jing, Qi and Shen (essence, vitality and mind). Throughout the exercises, there should be no muscle tensing and we must stay in the present and focus on breath/movement coordination. Depending on the aim of the sequence of movements, the energies can be concentrated and centralized to help us feel more confident and powerful, or they can be more fluid to help us feel refreshed and agile.
There are over 6000 types of Qi Gong movements, and the internet is full of videos for beginning, intermediate and advanced levels.
Another form of exercise that has its roots in Qi Gong is Tai Ji Quan. Tai Ji was developed as a martial arts as early as the 1100’s by Taoist and Buddhist monks, who combined various Qi Gong movements into an effective self-defense art. As the traditions were passed down through the generations and China went through various political ages until modern times, Tai Ji has mostly become an exercise with less focus as a martial art. Like Qi Gong, most training includes the coordination of slow fluid movements and breathing. Only at advanced levels usually within the different Chinese family styles, is Tai Ji Quan practiced as martial arts.
Both Qi Gong and Tai Ji Quan are practiced throughout the world, so if you are interested in trying them out, just take a look on the internet to find a group near you.