Daoyin Qigong: Bones, Tendons, Joints (set 1)
Exercises for the Bones, Joints, & Tendons (the Mobility of the Skeletal System and for Promoting Longevity).
These exercises were not created with any internal organ in mind, i.e. they do not relate to one particular organ. Instead they relate to the soft tissue (Shujin) and the bones (Gu), and therefore promote the health of the bones and soft tissues. In Chinese thought the bones and soft tissues (ligaments and tendons) are interrelated to create one system.
The exercises are targeted at treating all the joints from the neck downwards including dysfunction and atrophy of the muscles. They also relieve pain associated with the bones and joints, and regular practise of these exercises is thought to help in preventing and treating osteoporosis.
The Causes of Aches and Pains.
From a Western perspective, pain is usually due to muscles weakening with age. The three main causes are:
3. Awkward movement
The areas where the muscles are naturally at their weakest are the most at risk. In Qigong, the principle exists: “Where the muscle is weakest, that is where we strengthen”.
Muscle is composed of fibre protected by membrane which in turn is attached to the bones of the joint. Over-repetition of one particular movement (e.g. pumping iron) will destroy the balance of muscles.
From the Chinese perspective, permanently tense muscles lack a sufficient supply of Qi to nourish them. Muscles can be affected by Wind, Cold, and Dampness, all of which affect the flexibility of the muscle leading to chronic fatigue. Pain is often caused when the bone and the muscle membrane stick together. The cure is relaxation.
Muscles and bones are related to the Spleen, Liver, and Kidney.
The Spleen is strongly related to the muscles. This organ is associated with the digestive system, and receives the goodness from food. When the Spleen is functioning normally, then the person will be well nourished. These exercises strengthen the Spleen.
The Liver relates directly to the tendons, providing nourishment for them. The tendon is always next to the joint and affects the movement of the joint and the muscles. Over-use of muscles creates fatigue in the tendons. The Liver nourishes the tendons, so if it is weak, it will not be able to provide sufficient nourishment. This is most common in the aged. These exercises benefit the tendons by fortifying the Liver.
The Kidney has direct bearing on the bones. The Kidney stores qi and creates bone marrow which nourishes the bones. These exercises fortify the Kidney.
In fortifying the organs identified above, use may be made of related meridians, and practitioners are recommended to include some basic study of TCM theory to clarify this aspect of Dao Yin Yang Sheng Gong.
Also in this set of exercises, three important points must be remembered: -
1. The Movement is slow, supple, and harmonious. Its form is precise. It is performed in time with the music.
2. The Breathing is co-ordinated with the music, and announced by the numbers 1-8. The preferred breathing style is abdominal.
• On inhaling (odd numbers), the base of the abdomen inflates; breathe in through the nose with the tongue against the palette. At the end of the inhalation, contract the anus.
• On exhaling (even numbers), the abdomen deflates, and the anus relaxes. Expiration is through the nose or the mouth, according to the condition of the practitioner. Normally, exhalation will be through the nose. The expiration is silent, with the tongue lowered.
3. The Mental Focus – One should be completely relaxed before beginning the exercise (the poem), then with each exercise, one should concentrate on the point indicated. N.B. You should not focus too hard, but you should not lose focus altogether; it should be ‘light’, like a cloud.