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Chi Kung
the art of breathing: the fundamental basis of tai chi

Yi Jin Jin


In ancient China, the monk Bodhidharma went to the Shaolin Temple, and saw that the monks there were out of shape from too much meditation. He developed the yijinjing form of chi kung excersises to help them get fitter. From there it spread rapidly during the Song Dynasty, and is still used today.

Yijinjing is a set of limbering up excersises for the tendons, to strengthen them. They are gentle excersises, but also involve vigourous will - using one's will to direct the exertion of muscular strength. Like Chi Kung, it is coordinated through breathing. - breathing is used to force the will, and chi kung practitioners will get a feel for the right breathing.

There are twelve forms to the excersises, and the following is a basic guide to their execution, based upon a translation by Xu Yixin.

1. The first form of "Weituo Presenting Jingangchu"

Stand upright, and raise both arms with the hands cupping before the chest.
Your state of mind should be clear, and calm. Breathe in as you raise your arms.


2. The second form of "Weituo Presenting Jingangchu"

Stand firm with your feet and toes flat on the ground.
Your arms and hands stretch horizontally sideways, breathing out.

Breathe smoothly, and eyes should be open.


3. The third form of "Weituo Presenting Jingangchu"

Stand on tiptoe. Raise your hands above your head with your hands palm upwards.
Stand firm with your full weight on your legs, and your eyes looking upward.
Regulate your breath through your nose to stay mentally calm, and then turn your hands into fists and put them down to your front as if you are carrying something heavy from your arms.


4. The fourth form of "Weituo Presenting Jingangchu"

Raise one hand overhead as if it is propping up the sky, and your eyes gaze at the hand.
Inhale through the nose, then withdraw evenly to resume balance.


5. The form of "pulling back nine bulls by the tail"

Bend the front leg and same fist forward, stretch the rear one, and other fist behind.
Direct your breathe down to your lower abdomen, which should be relaxed.
Concentrate your strength on your upper arms, and your eyes look at the fist in front.


6. The form of "Showing talons and spreading wings"

Straighten the back and have your eyes wide open.
Vigorously push forward with both arms, and then retract seven times.


7. The form of "nine ghosts drawing sabers"

Bend an upper arm over the head, and lean the head toward the arm to let the hand reach behind the neck. Bring your other arm behind your back.
Retract the arms as vigorously as possible, then reverse arms.
Stand upright and breathe smoothly while doing this.


8. The form of "three bends on the ground"

Your tongue tip touches the top of your palette and your eyes are wide open. Concentrate your mind on your teeth.
With your legs apart, bend as if you are sitting on something, and press your hands downward with force.
Turn both palms upward as if supporting a heavy weight, with your eyes open and your mouth closed.
Then stand up, keeping the whole of your feet flat on the ground.


9. The form of "dragon showing claws"

Thrust out the right hand to the left,while the left is ready to follow.
Hands should move levelly and breath should be firm. Concentrate the strength through the back and shoulders, with your eyes looking horizontally. Regulate the breath for a tranquil mind.


10. The form of "lying tiger pouncing on its prey"

Keep your feet apart, and lean your body forward, stretching your fingertips to the ground for support.
Bend and stretch your legs alternately. Raise and thrust forward your head and chest, while your back and waist are level.
Regulate, breathing, exhaling and inhaling smoothly.



11. The form of "deep bowing"

Hold your head with both hands. Bend down so that your head almost reaches between your knees.
Close your mouth and cover your ears, breathing is smooth.
Strength is concentrated on both elbows.



12. The form of "tail swinging"

Keep your knees straight, and stretch your arms to reach the ground.
Your eyes are wide open and your head is raised. Stand upright.
Stamp your feet twenty one times and stretch your arms to both sides seven times.
Sit, and cross your legs and close your eyes. Concentrate your mind on your mouth, regulate your breathing through your nose until total calmness is achieved.
Finally stand up to conclude the round.




In ancient China, the monk Bodhidharma went to the Shaolin Temple, and saw that the monks there were out of shape from too much meditation. He developed the yijinjing form of chi kung excersises to help them get fitter.

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