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MIT Traditional Medicine Society
Natural Qigong "The Art of Nourishing Life"
There are many ways to cultivate health (exercise), and, within the Chinese arts they are grouped into two categories of development. The Natural & Un-Natural schools! These two schools would later be classified as the Soft (natural) & Hard (un-natural) arts. Yiquan (mind boxing) is a natural form of Yang Sheng (life nourishment) Qigong that cultivates, integrates and activates your whole body in stillness. This system of soft exercise is extremely simple, and, provides the deepest therapy for the mind, body and spirit.
Natural & Un-Natural:
It is important to know the difference between Natural methods, and, Un-Natural methods of exercise. Here I will use Yiquan Qigong founderís own words to bring understanding to this topic. Master Wang Xiang Zhai clearly describes the core difference between natural (life nourishing) cultivation and other forms of exercise.
"Appropriate exercises can positively affect every cell and every organ in the human body, improve the functioning of respiratory and vascular systems, and also improve metabolism. In other words, they activate the whole human organism.
In typical forms of exercise, before the body is tired, there are already problems with breathing and the heart is overburdened. So the exercise must be halted prematurely in order to let one's heart rest, to catch one's breath and return to a normal state.
Chinese health science uses the opposite method. This is exercise of the muscular and vascular systems, exercise for all cells of the body. The principle is to stimulate every organ at the same time. Even if during exercise your muscles become tired, your pulse stays in the normal range, and breathing is natural. After the exercise, you feel that your breath is freer and more comfortable than before.
Because there are no complex sets of movements, the nervous system is not greatly stressed; you eliminate internal tension, achieving mental calm. This is one of the elements that make health science different from typical forms of exercise."
Mind, Body & Breath:
The heart of Yiquan Qigong is known as Zhan Zhaung or "Pile Standing". Pile Standing is the most direct way to exercise the mind, body and breath in stillness. The process is designed to return the body to the natural state, and, it should be noted that all aspects of cultivation in Yiquan is trained with softness. This is the reason for Yiquan being suitable for practitioners of any age.
The classics state: Internally train the Breath and Qi, Externally train the Muscles, Tendons and Bones. From here we can see the difference between the Noi & Wai (internal & external) forms of exercise. Both of which are developed in softness. In Yiquan Qigong nothing is forced and all aspects of training is designed to open and unite the body versus closing it off. A body that is open (and elastic) will have good circulation and be less prone to injury. An example of this method of cultivation can be found in the training of the spine. In Zhan Zhuang the spine naturally decompresses! This is a form of natural realignment, which can be best thought of in this simple example: If you wanted to untangle a telephone cord would you stretch it out or would you hang it upside down and let "gravity" unlock it? Here is the difference between Hard Qigong, Yoga and Life Nourishing Natural Qigong.
Why is Zhan Zhuang such and effective method of exercise? Conditioning, Energy and Meditation are all results of the simple practice of Pile Standing. So, one can say you will experience the rewards of three forms of exercise in one simple posture and this is why Pile Standing is regarded as the King of Exercise in China!
Yiquan Qigong is a modern system that has no set patterns or techniques! The root training gradually (and smoothly) will transform you from the inside out. Development of Gok (awareness) is key as it is awareness of posture, relaxation and breathing that will bring out the Zheng Qi (true chi) energy realm. Yiquan Qigong is a principle based training platform, which nourishes the three treasures Jing (essence), Qi (energy) and Shen (spirit) while simultaneously integrating and activating your whole body!