Three Gates must Be Passed to Enhance “Shaking Head and Tail to Dispel Heart Fire”
Health Qigong is rooted in Chinese cultural soil, like a leafy tree, and its roots extend to all directions, absorbing all kinds of nutrients. With diverse cultural theory origins, it has absorbed the traditional Chinese philosophy thoughts and cultural concepts, but also contained the inner core of traditional sciences, such as medicine and aesthetic, etc. Also, there are rich cultural and sports connotation implying in the fifth routine “Shaking Head and Tail to Dispel Heart Fire”. To truly master the exercise, we should firstly understand it from the source of traditional Chinese health culture and experience its sports contents under the guidance of traditional Chinese culture, which will be able to play a multiplier effect. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that kidney stores "innate essence", and it is the foundation of yin and yang of internal organs and the source of life, so the kidney is called the "congenital foundation". Kidney corresponds to water, and heart corresponds to fire, but water restricts fire according to the relations of five elements, so that the coordination between the heart and kidney is critical to achieve the regulation between water and fire and keep healthy. Seen from the appearance, "shaking head and tail" seems to be the up and down, left and right, back and forth movement of head and torso, in fact, the whole action mainly emphasizes the guide on the lumbosacral area, so as to activate the lumbosacral joints, which is an important action to exercise Du meridian, bladder meridian and kidney meridian. Kidney qi can be invigorated by exercising bladder meridian, so that achieve the ascending of kidney water, and restrain heart fire. "Shaking head" is not too difficult, the key of the exercise lies in "wagging tail". The real moving force point of "wagging tail" is at the root of Du meridian, namely Weilu (coccyx). Therefore, "wagging tail" is the action to unblocked Du meridian. This process is called "passing three gates" by the ancients, namely Weilu (coccyx), Jiaji (Squeezing Spine) and Yuzhen (Jade Pillow). Thus, the exercisers must take three carts respectively, namely sheep cart, deer cart and oxcart. First, the cultural connotations of "shaking head and tail" and "passing three gates" Passing the first gate Weilu is to wiggle tailbone, which requires a long-term practice, and generally it is not easy to do. It can be seen qi movement is very slow from the gently and slowly wiggling tailbone, which is compared to sheep cart by the ancients. It is as slow as a sheep pulling a cart. Sheep has another character, namely endeavor. It has the determination and will to overcome any difficulties. Thus, this action requires wiggling tailbone slowly and powerful like sheep pulling carts, so that qi can move up. The second gate Jiaji is that area clamping the spine on the back. Qi moves through here faster, which is compared to deer cart by the ancients. It is as light as the deer. After passing Weilu, qi movement can lightly move up to Dazhui through Jiaji. The third gate Yuzhen refers to the area from Dazhui to brain, where usually close to the pillow, and it was named after Yuzhen (Jade Pillow) by the ancients. Qi moves up from Dazhui to Yuzhen, and then to Yinjiao point, which is a way of qi movement entering into the brain. It is also very difficult, and you need a great effort. So it is compared to oxcart by the ancients. Oxcart is particular powerful. Here it needs the strength of ox. Therefore, wiggling tailbone and "passing three gates" are very difficult. In the course of evolution, the tail of human has been degraded out, and we rarely exercise the coccyx, but “Shaking Head and Tail to Dispel Heart Fire” can activate the coccyx and head, which effectively exercises the spine, Du meridian and Dazhui, achieving the effect of discharging heart warm. Second, the sports connotations of "shaking head and tail" and "passing three gates" Firstly, bend both knees and squat to horse stance, waist relaxed, lower hips, abdomen in, buttocks contraction, straighten the body, virtually lift Baihui point, and knees should not over toes. Meanwhile, lower shoulders and elbows, relax wrists and fingers, palms above the knees, little finger toward the inside front, and look straight ahead. In order to increase the amplitude of swing of coccyx, the center of gravity of body should rise up slightly, and then move to the right. Upper body leans to the right, and the swing coccyx to left. Taking waist as axis, bend body to the right front side, keep shoulders flat, with head above the horizontal, relax and extend the cervical vertebra and muscle, coccyx drawing a circle backward and look at right foot. Then move the center of gravity to the left. Use the force of waist to move body from right front to the left, and guide the coccyx to draw a circle from back to the right. At this time, cervical vertebra and coccyx have opposite-pulled and extended, as if two axes are opposite operating. Look at right foot. Then, we will learn that how to gently and slowly shake head 90 degrees, and flexibly and coherently wiggle tailbone 90 degrees or 270 degrees. For instance, when wiggling tailbone 90 degrees, you should pay attention that shaking head is more active than wiggling tailbone, as the arc of shaking head is greater than that of wagging tailbone, so the speed of shaking head should be soft and slow and the speed of wagging tailbone should be slow and powerful, in order to "shaking head and tail" comforting each other. And another example, when wiggling tailbone 270 degrees, you should pay attention that wagging tailbone is more active than shaking head, as the arc of wagging tailbone is greater than that of shaking head, thus the speed of wagging tailbone should be more powerful with more effort like the sheep cart, so that flexibly and coherently wiggling tailbone can follow the slowly and gently shaking head, comforting each other. Specific approach is as follow. Connected to the previous action, shake head backward, waggle tailbone forward (lower abdomen in), move the center of gravity to the relatively easy points of the movement "shaking head and tail" 90 degrees. Then, it is a bit difficult in the cooperation of shaking head 90 degrees and waggling tailbone 270 degrees. The key is to achieve the coordination of shaking head and waggling tailbone. Wiggle tailbone forward 90 degrees (lower abdomen in), shake head backward and intend to relax Dazhui. When head slowly pillow on the neck, left wiggling tailbone 90 degrees has flexibly and coherently finished, and "rise head and tail" of the movement backswing 90 degrees (contracted waist and raised buttocks) have completed at the same time. By comparison, waggling tailbone 270 degrees can manifest the powerfulness of sheep cart better. The key of whether qi can smoothly pass three gates is the first gate Weilu. When waggling tailbone from right to front, the head has been shaken backward, and the center of gravity of the body has been relatively stable. Continuing to waggle tailbone left and right, lean head backward and relax neck to stimulate Dazhui. Go on waggling tailbone flexibly and coherently and recover to upright body with a little effort, relax and soft lower abdomen and loose tailbone are the key, which is as "Theory of Classical Tai Chi" (Gu Dian Quan Lun) mentioned, "Relax abdomen to achieve qi ascending". Thus Qi will follow the trend to pass Weilu and lightly move up from Jiaji to Dazhui. The key to pass Jiaji is to straighten waist and spine, with the successively relaxation of spine, then qi can slightly pass Jiaji. The third gate is Yuzhen, the strength of contracting chin is related to the oxcart. Only drawing back the chin with great strength, can qi enter the brain through Dazhui and Yuzhen and reach Yinjiao point. In this case, keep head and neck upright and virtually pull Baihui point are the knacks of qi passing Yuzhen to Yinjiao point. So drawing back the tailbone should be slightly faster than drawing back the chin, no matter waggling tailbone 90 degrees or 270 degrees. "Qi can circulate smoothly with right postures", only through the Daoyin combing form, spirit, thought and qi, can qi movement of Du meridian successfully "pass three gates". Connected to the previous action, when slightly drawing back the chin, qi movement of Ren meridian passes through the tongue and Chengjiang point. Meanwhile keep body upright, relax waist and hips, abdomen in and buttocks contracted, lower the center of gravity into a horse stance, and qi back to Dantian. The exercise can not only stimulate Dazhui and discharge warm through shaking head, but also stimulate the spine and Du meridian through shaking tail. Meanwhile, it can increase the joint mobility of neck, waist and hip, but also enhance the strength of these parts through the sharply lateral bending, circumduction and convolution of the lumbar part of vertebral column and cervical segment, and the contraction of muscle groups of head, neck, waist, buttocks and thigh. Through learning the traditional cultural and sports connotations implied in "shaking head and tail" and "passing three gates" of Health Qigong· Ba Duan Jin, we can try to understand the profound traditional Chinese culture, entry cross the threshold, enlighten and rise to a higher position, which will help us to correctly grasp the essence of Health Qigong, and improve the level of practice and fitness effect.