Subtle Illumination of the Principal of Pulling Nine Oxen by Their Tails Exercise Cui Jian
The analogically psychological experience by using the archetypal thinking symbols of nature is unique Chinese way of thinking formed by their love, persistence and inspiration to the natural world -- imagery thinking. The movement names and mind regulating of Health Qigong fully reflect this kind of imagery thinking. It is not only about the superficial “feeling”, but also the deep “comprehension” of nature. “Comprehension” is recommended by Confucianism as well, because “comprehension” not only stands for a relatively high spiritual realm, but also is the enlightenment of people’s living experience and the only way of practicing Qigong. This article elaborately illustrates the imagery thinking culture of Pulling Nine Oxen by Their Tails Exercise and health principal and main point of techniques, which provides theoretical foundation for Health Qigong teaching and improving the result of exercises. The Cultural Connotation of the Method Health Qigong culture comes from the relationship network of man and nature. Thus, the relationship between man and nature is not only the key of illustrating the connotation of Health Qigong Method, but also the key to open the treasure-house of Chinese culture. The “unity of heaven and man” theory of Health Qigong is filled with this imagery thinking of the relationship between man and nature. In the eyes of Chinese, there is unimaginable isomorphism between man and nature. For example, nature has rivers, lakes and oceans, while man has main and collateral channels and viscera; ocean has flux and reflux of tide every month and the moon has its waxes and wanes, while man has physiological cycle every month as well. As the most magnificent existence among all lives, man has a leaping life which coincides with the rhythm of nature. Chinese often experience their philosophy of life in the world of nature and accumulated rich regimen culture. Many movements’ names in Yi Jin Jing reflect the analogically psychological experience by using the archetypal thinking symbols of nature. For example, the Pulling Nine Oxen by Their Tails exercise is the imagery thinking result which is based on the movement archetype of pulling oxen by their tails, meaning pulling over the tails of nine oxen. In Qigong Method, “Nine oxen” means incredibly strong, implying the infinite potential strength of man. There is a proverb which goes “taking out the strength of nine oxen and two tigers”. It is a figure of speech by saying using too much strength. Another expression “Plucking a Star and Exchanging a Star Cluster” also has the meaning of the infinity of human consciousness, as you can easily change the stars up in the sky! In the routine 2 of Wei Tuo presenting the pestle, there is a position of arms outreaching with palms erecting, which shows the imagination of pushing two mountains far away. It is a sign of infinite strength as well. Yi Jin Jing is filled with this kind of mental regulating method of infinite strength, which is also an important way to stimulate our bodies’ inner potential. It is a major feature of Health Qigong culture, thus it is necessary to briefly explain the culture connotation of imagery thinking again: Thinking is the subjective consciousness of human and given from the heart; imagery is the outwards object and image. Imagery thinking is the combination of imagery and thinking, the mental imagery of subjective emotion and objective image. In Health Qigong, this imagery is the combination of subjective minds and objective shapes as well. Thus, during the practice of Health Qigong, we need to let “creating image from mind” and “experiencing mind and forgetting image” to be our guide of mental regulating. In this case, we can reach a higher level during practice and achieve better effects based on our perceptual intuition. The Principal of the Method The movement of Pulling Nine Oxen by Their Tails exercise comes from the movement of Plucking a Star and Exchanging a Star Cluster. Its movement is to turn the right heel inward so that right foot keeps a 45-degree angle with the front, then slightly bend your knees, move the center of gravity to the right side and move the left foot behind to the 45-degree left; bend your right knee in lunge position and turn your left hand inward, drawing arc forward and downward at the same time, then stretching backward while keeping your palm diagonal upward; make an arc front upward with your right hand, and when it reaches to the level of your shoulder, keep your arms and body like a straight line and your palms diagonal upward. The next step is to hold two hands together from little fingers to thumbs and make a fist, facing the inner side of your fists upward. Keep your hands slightly above your shoulders and look at your right fist. The number of the movement of Pulling Nine Oxen by Their Tails exercise is the same for the left and right side, but the direction is different. From the exercise anatomy and exercise physiology point of view, we found out that the change of the movement of Plucking a Star and Exchanging a Star Cluster and its change at two sides include the process of gravity switch of two legs. During the process of switch, waist at two sides moves upward and downward, so as the hip joints at two sides. This is important to improve the myodynamia of psoas and iliopsoas, the movement of hip joints, as well as the body balance capacity. During the process of pulling, two legs move forwards and backwards alternatively and rotation of waist and hip brings the rotation of shoulders and arms. This rotational movement coordinated with neck, shoulders, waist and limbs can gently press and relax the arteries and veins in muscles, improve the blood circulation of soft tissues, enhance the supply of oxygen, promote the metabolism of clasmatocyte and further improve the muscular tissue strength and functions of neck, shoulders, waist and limbs. Secondly, from traditional Chinese medicine point of view, twist of the waist can bring the movement of shoulders, which will stimulate acupoints on the back, such as Jia Ji, Fei Yu and Xin Yu and achieve the results of unblocking Jia Ji and heart and lung exercising. In the meantime, rotation of the waist can massage visceral organs in abdomen and hip joints. It undoubtedly can have a good effect in promoting the smoothness of main and collateral channels and belts as well as physiological functions. At last, from psychological point of view, we found out that ”move your hips forward and backward in order to help the air movement in lower abdomen; the point is to emphasize on upper arms and look at your fists with both eyes”. This pithy formula fully expresses the key point of imagery thinking method, which means that the practicer needs to pay attention to watch fists, understand the bend and stretch of legs moving forward and backward, the rotation of waist, pulling method with upper arms, and the status of waist and abdomen, shoulders and arms relaxation when fixed in a position. This thinking method is a unique mental regulating method of Health Qigong, which can improve the function of cerebral cortex and central nervous system, strengthening cerebral cortex’s regulating function of motor center, easing tension and anxiety from work and lives and strongly stimulating human’s inner potential. Thus, we can draw the conclusion of Pulling Nine Oxen by Their Tails exercise no matter from exercise anatomy and exercise physiology, traditional Chinese medicine and psychological point of view that it not only can strengthen our bodies, but also is an effective method to regulate our emotions and improve our living quality. The Essentials of the Method 1. Follow each other the up and down, freely coordination and gentle movements Switching from the movement of Plucking a Star and Exchanging a Star Cluster to this one, you need to synchronize the movement of your body and right foot in order to coordinate its up and down; the deficiency and excess of gravity switch need to be clear, which means after the center of gravity completely rests on the right leg and your left leg is weakened, you can move your left leg backward. The swing of arms needs to coordinate with the movements of left leg so that they follow each other, and the movement of keeping your arms a straight line with your body and the movement of bowing your legs need to be done at the same time. There should be a 10cm horizontal distance between your legs, and the intersected extension line of your legs should create a 45 to 60 degree angle. Meanwhile, the line formed by your arms shares the same direction with your bowing legs. Moreover, the process of changing movements needs to be coordinate freely, gently and soft so that your body can fully stretch and relax. The requirements are the same when switching left to right. 2. Moving shoulders with waist, moving arms with shoulders and focusing all strength on arms This movement of pulling arms hard doesn’t simply means focusing your strength on arms and fists. It is closely related to the movement of waist and abdomen. The key points are: ①Pulling arms hard starts after when your legs are bowed and it requires you to pull when your body is fully stretched and relaxed. ②The order of hard pulling is to pedal ground hard with your front leg and rotate your waist and abdomen at the same time, then continue to stretch and bend your legs like a bow when moving the center of your gravity backward; meanwhile, rotate your waist and hips, move shoulders with waist, move arms with shoulders, move your fists with arms and gradually enhance your strength. When strength is focused on your arms, it feels like pulling oxen with tails, and you need to focus your sight on the fists. In addition, your abdomen is tightened because of your strength and the center of gravity should slightly sink. During the process, your strength should increase gradually in accordance with the law of motion of Yin and Yang. When you start to make a bow, it is the time that consumes most of your strength and the turning point from working hard to relaxation. At this point, you need to move your right elbow down when the position is fixed, retrieve upper arms and rotate your right fist outward to extreme, making sure that your fist and knees are towards the same direction; rotate your left fist inward to extreme and retrieve it to the place with one fist distance from the Mingmen on your back. ③The order of hard stretching is to pedal ground and stretch forward with back leg and move the center of gravity forward; meanwhile, rotate your waist and hips, move shoulders with waist, move arms with shoulders, move your fists with arms and connect them one by one. Gradually relax and stretch your arms when rotating your waist and abdomen, as if you’re relieving the oxen, and focus your sight on your fists. During the process, you also need to lose your strength gradually in accordance with the law of motion of Yin and Yang. When you finish the movement of bow, your full body will reach to a status of relatively relaxation. It is necessary to strengthen that you need to connect your shoulders with hips when pedaling legs and switching the center of gravity, making sure that they follow each other the up and down. The rotation of shoulders with waist, arms with shoulders and the strength transmission from rotation, bending and stretching to pulling of arms need to be closely connected one by one. 3. Connecting body with mind, finding balance between loose and tight, and stabilizing your body After expertly grasp the movement of this exercise, you need to adjust your breath (breath regulating) and enhance your imagery thinking experience (mental regulating), imaging you are extremely powerful and pulling nine oxen by their tails. With the hard bend and stretch of your legs, promoting the rotation of waist, shoulders and arms, you can experience the gradual pedaling when stretching legs backward and forward, the connection between legs, waist, shoulders, arms and hands, the Yin and Yang strength from weak to strong and vice versa and the imagery feeling of before and after playing with nine oxen. During the process of movement switch, you need to coordinate with the law of motion of Yin and Yang, and increase your strength gradually from weak to strong and vice versa. Moreover, you need to make a balance between loose and tight, making sure there is Yin in Yang and vice versa. The switch between Yin and Yang needs to be coordinated and the switch of center of gravity should be steady. To sum up, it is important to discover and understand the imagery thinking in the culture of Health Qigong and the culture connotation of Health Qigong, as well as improve your practical skills of Health Qigong and enhance the exercise results.