Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Six Healing Sounds

The Six Healing Sounds is a breathing technique devised by the ancient Chinese to improve health and promote healing and longevity. The Chinese discovered that all humans produce similar sound patterns in certain situations. For instance, after a tense situation, many people utter a sigh of relief. This sigh is the body’s way of releasing emotional stress.

Over the centuries, the Six Healing Sounds went through a number of development and modification by various doctors and teachers, such as the famous Master Sun Simiao (581-682). In his practice, the silently spoken six sounds are coordinated with movements of the body’s extremities and the breath in order to purge and purify the organ cavities and particular channels of inactive qi

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the five major organs — heart, liver, spleen, lung and kidney — are each assigned an element (fire, earth, metal, water or wood). Every organ also has an associated sound in which the organ resonates with. By using the associated sound, old, congested qi can be expelled from the affected organ and be replaced with fresh, clear qi.
the six sounds are:

Xu, pronounced like “shh” with deep sigh, which is connected to the liver.
He, pronounced like “her with a yawn, which is connected to the heart.
Si, pronounced like “sir, with slow exhale, which is connected to the lungs.
Chui, pronounced like “tree” with a strong exhale, which is connected to the kidneys.
Hoo, pronounced like “who,” which is conceited to the spleen.
Xi, pronounced like “she,” which is connected to the whole body.

The following poem, by Simiao gives us some ideas how live healthy according to the seasons and what sound to make for each season. 

"In Spring, breathe xu for clear eyes and so wood can aid you liver.
In summer, reach for he, so that heart and fire can be at peace.
In fall, breathe si to stabilize and gather metal, keeping the lungs moist.
For the kidneys, next, breathe chui and see you inner water calm.
the Triple Heater needs your xi to expel all heat and troubles.
In all four seasons take long breaths, so spleen can process food.
And, of course, avoid exhaling noisily, not letting even your ears hear it.
The practice is most excellent and will help preserve your divine elixir."   

Sound is one of the most powerful forms of energy in the universe, and therefore it’s also a very effective way of working with energy in Qigong. The six healing sounds are ideal for closing a meditation practice, an exercise session, your workday, or whenever your energies need soothing and settling.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Bruce Lee Warm Up Exercises

“The purpose of firmness is to keep one from getting too lax, while the purpose of gentleness is to keep one from getting too hard. Nothing can survive long by going to extremes.”
                                                                                                                               Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee, other than been a great martial artist, also wrote books and essays about fighting, philosophy, Chinese culture, etc. In his book  The Tao of Gung Fu, Bruce Lee recommends several warm up exercises to strengthen and enhance flexibility. For proper training, Lee suggests that each training program is based upon your individual needs. Always think about creating new ways to improve the performance of your body.

1. The Waist – Lee recommends twisting, bending forward, backwards, left and right, and waist rotation.

2. The Legs - the best exercises to limber up the body are stretching and high kicks. If you can do high kicks, try to focus on side kicking and front kicking.

3.  The Shoulders – to warm up your shoulders Lee recommends wide arm circles or rotating and pulling back the arms so a mild stretch is achieved.

4. The Arms – for your arms, Lee recommends push-ups or any basic weight training.

5. The Wrist – the most beneficial loosening up for the wrists is simply rotating them in clockwise and counterclockwise circles. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Ten Rules of Ikigai

Ikigai is Japanese word which means a reason for being or passion for life. In a new book Ikigai: the Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy life. The authors try to find out why people in Japan have such a passion for life and work, why one village in Japan has the highest percentage of 100-year olds. How having strong Ikigai brings longevity and happiness. Many of things mention in the book are very similar to the practice and philosophy of Tai Chi (such as: take it slow, reconnect with nature and live in the moment). At the end of the book the authors list the Ten Rules of Ikigai:

1. Stay active and don’t retire.
Once the authors arrived in Okinawa, they were shocked to find out how many people simply do not retire — in fact, they even note the lack of a Japanese word for the concept. In order to do what you love for as long as you can, the authors suggest that you make it a priority to stay active in all stages of life and keep doing something you value.

2. Take it slow.
“When you leave urgency behind, life and time take on new meaning,” the authors advise. So instead of rushing your daily tasks, try to savor and enjoy them for the sake of your Ikigai. Which is key in moving in Tai Chi.

3. Don’t fill your stomach.
“Less is more when it comes to a long life. Eat a little less than your hunger demands.” According to authors, one of the most popular phrases in Japan is to “fill your belly to 80 percent.”

4. Surround yourself with good friends.
“Friends are the best medicine, there for confiding, sharing stories, getting advice, having fun, dreaming… in other words, living.” Basically, it’s a great excuse to gather your friends for drinks more often. Hey, it’s for your health!

5. Get in shape for your next birthday.
“The body you move through life needs a bit of gentle daily maintenance.” While the folks on the Japanese island of Okinawa do not perform rigorous exercise, they do regularly get up and move their muscles.

6. Smile.
“It’s a privilege to be in the here and now”. Do your best to stay positive no matter what life throws your way.

7. Reconnect with nature.
“Human beings are made to be part of the natural world. Return to it as often as you can,” the authors say. Try to make time in your busy schedule to get back to nature.

8. Give thanks.
“Give thanks for everything that brightens your day and makes you feel lucky to be alive.” Try to be more grateful to people around you and to the gifts life gives you. Do your best to give more thanks throughout the day.

9. Live in the moment.
Stop thinking about the past and the future and think about this moment, right now. Make the most of it.

10. Find your Ikigai.
“There is a passion inside you, a unique talent, that gives meaning to your days and drives you to share the best of yourself until the very end.”

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Ten Basic Principles of Tai Chi

Yang Cheng Fu (1883-1936) was the grandson of Yang Lu Chan the founder of Yang style Tai Chi. He is credited with making Tai Chi popular in China and across the world. According to Yang Cheng Fu, the correct practice of Tai Chi follows ten basic principles:

1. Elevate the crown of the head, and focus your all your energy there.

2. Tighten your chest and expand your back to lighten your lower body.

3. Relax and loosen your waist and let it guide your body.

4. Learn the difference between substantial and insubstantial, knowing how your weight is distributed.

5. Relax the shoulders to allow free movement of the arms and promote the flow of energy.

6. Value the suppleness of the mind over the strength of the body.

7. Unify the upper and lower body so they act in concert.

8. Unify the internal and the external. To synchronize mind, body and breathe.

9. Do not stop the flow of your movement; maintain flow and harmony when you move.

10. Look for stillness in movement. An active body leads to a calm mind. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Simple Breathing Practice for Relaxation.

In Tai Chi, Qigong and even in some yoga practices, students use the technique of “belly breathing.”  Belly breathing means taking a deep breath through the nose and filling the lungs until the belly slowly rises. It’s a powerful method to get more oxygen and energy into the body.

Breathing is connected to emotions. Anger makes our breath constricted.  If we feel stressed our breath is short and shallow to the point that it appears almost nonexistent. Most of us take short and shallow breaths. Shallow breathing increases stress and anxiety.

This does not mean that you inhale or exhale to the maximum which can hinder your oxygen supply. You should inhale and exhale to about 75%, so the lungs have room to operate. The rib cage and chest should barely move while you are breathing. Allow your breath to be full and move deep into your abdomen. Key words for good breathing: Calm (Jing), long, deep, slow and soft. Deep and calm breathing relaxes you and keeps your mind sharp. The breath is a bridge between the body and the mind. Oxygen could be described as the most essential food.

Switching to belly breathing is a great method for slowing down the heart rate and calm the nervous system. An easy way to start is to either sit down or lie on your back and your feet are flat on the floor. Place your hands on the belly and slowly inhale and exhale, allow you belly to rise and move back to the floor.