IV. Features and Functions of Body Regulation
Based on the basic purpose and requirements of health Qigong, the body regulation of health Qigong takes on the following features and functions:
(I) Correct Body Shapes and Relaxing Movements
While exercising health Qigong, practitioners should keep their body impartial and relaxed, limbs open, loose and coordinated no matter it’s about body postures such as walking, standing, sitting and lying or requirements for the process and methods for movements such as pitching, stretching, rotating, running and jumping, rising and falling, opening and closing, etc. It’s demonstrated in all nine health Qigong methods. Distinct deficiency and excess can help practitioners do a good job in correct shapes and loose body. The benefits of the feature for practitioners’ method exercise are as follows:
1. Restrain mind to help breath: studies show that relaxing and natural body postures and movements can better help practitioners with their peaceful mind, respiratory muscles and chest pressure formation. It’s because relaxing body can make muscles get easy to the uttermost, further effectively reduce unnecessary extra stimulation and lower the excitability of the cerebral cortex. Besides, it can help practitioners relax their mind and spirit; the relaxing status of drawing in the chest slight and erecting the back can make the respiratory muscles and chest remain in a good and relaxing status. This is helpful to the formation of slow, even, thin and mild breath. However, if practitioners can’t achieve distinct deficiency and excess, it’s hard for them to have correct shapes and loose body and some muscles of the body will be in a tension state. It will definitely send a series of centripetal nerve impulses to relevant cerebral cortex and further affect the effects of meditation. Just as the ancient people say, “Qi won’t be smooth if the shapes are not correct; mind won’t be stable if Qi is not smooth and spirit won’t be orderly if mind is not stable”. It’s a case in point. Therefore, distinct deficiency and excess and correct body shapes can help practitioners restrain mind and regulate breath. It’s the foundation for regulating mind and breath.
2. Circulate Qi and blood: studies show that full relaxation of limbs can effectively increase the open amount of microcirculations and promote the smoothness of blood capillary in muscles. That is to say, the body posture of correct shapes and loose body can relax all muscles to the uttermost, increase the development amount of blood capillary and further facilitate the blood circulation of the full body. In terms of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it can dredge the entire main and collateral channels, and circulate Qi and blood. We may have such experience while doing standing exercise. The more relaxed the body part, the more comfortable and warm; after exercise, we can feel our skin and body are warm. Such warmth is the real portrait of dredging the entire main and collateral channels, and circulating Qi and blood. According to TCM, “main and collateral channels will be smooth when they are warm; blood will circulate when it’s warm”; “people won’t have pain if everything is smooth and otherwise, people feel the pain”. Hence, the feature of correct shapes and loose body can help regulate viscera on the inside, prevent diseases and preserve health.
(II) Soft, Gentle, Round and Consistent to Exercise Full Body
When it comes to “soft, gentle, round and consistent”, movements in the exercise need to be mild instead of still; speed should be slow instead of too fast; the movement trajectory should be in an arch shape instead of straight; the movement process should be even and continuous instead of intermittent. The entire exercise should leave people with a feeling of smooth “silk” such as the bird-fly in Wu Qin Xi of health Qigong. As to “exercising full body”, the exercise of the entire set of methods needs to be comprehensive, complete and orderly instead of being partial, fragmented and disordered. Stopgap measures shouldn’t be taken. The principle is shown in all methods of health Qigong. The feature is helpful to distinct deficiency and excess, correct shapes and loose body so it can also help practitioners restrain mind, smooth Qi and circulate Qi and blood.
1. Unity of body and soul: it can combine the spirit and body of practitioners. Lao Zi once said, “You need to keep your mind and body integrated all the time”. Therefore, the purpose of exercise is to integrate spirit and body. In order to achieve this, the most important thing is to let practitioners highly relaxed in both mind and body. To achieve the status, correct shapes and loose body must be achieved from the perspective of body regulation. The feature of being soft, gentle, round and consistent to exercise full body is the prerequisite for the formation of correct shapes and loose body. It’s because soft, gentle, slow and consistent movements will make exercise relatively simple, stable and relaxing. This can help practitioners keep their body impartial and further serve loose body and peaceful mind. At the same time, it can reduce the extra burden on spirit due to discordant body postures, forms of movements, movement speed and exercise process; it decreases extra stimulation for cerebral cortex so as to better help practitioners enter the conception of body and soul integration. On the contrary, if movements are stiff, straight or intermittent, it will definitely cause tense spirit and absent-mindedness for practitioners, thus being unable to obtain peace.
2. Combination of movement and breath: it’s helpful to the coordination of practitioners’ movements and breath. The breath features of health Qigong is gentle, even, thin, slow, deep and long. It requires movements to cooperate with breath and movements to serve breath. This is different from other sports projects such as martial arts and the art of attack and defense which uses Qi to promote force. Suppose if movements are tense and stiff with rapid speed, or intermittent during exercise, the oxygen demand increases greatly and practitioners have to adjust their breath rhythm, speed and thickness to increase oxygen intake so as to maintain the body’s demand for oxygen; second, it also makes breath intermittent, thick or fast at this moment and thin or slow next moment. Therefore, the abdominal respiration of “gentle, even, thin, slow, deep and long” can’t be obtained, which further affects the adjustment of vegetative nerve and the progress of peaceful mind because “mind will be stable when breath is regulated”. As a result, only when movements are gentle, slow, round and consistent can they better serve breath and ensure gentle, even, thin, slow, deep and long breath.
（By Hu Xiaofei）