In Part I of this article we discussed the history of Ba Gua Qi Gong, some of the goals of qi gong practice, the qi gong training process and the involvement of the mind in qi gong. In this second installment we will begin by discussing the role of body motion in qi gong practice, the importance of breathing exercise, and we will give a couple of examples of some typical Ba Gua Qi Gong exercise movements.
Although there are many qi gong exercises which are practiced while the practitioner is sitting or standing, the distribution of qi throughout the body is achieved in the most efficient, most effective, and most complete manner when the body is in motion. Relaxed, natural, efficient motion of the physical body inherently promotes the movement of energy in the body. This is a natural principle of all life - life is movement. If the movements, or series of movements, in an exercise set are performed such that there is a relative central equilibrium, the body is aligned efficiently, and the motions move left, right, up, down, forward and backward in a balanced fashion, then the movement of energy in the body will move towards a balanced state if the mind does not interfere with that natural balance. As mentioned in the previous installment of this article, the body has an innate knowledge of how to heal and balance itself if the mind does not try to overcomplicate the process. If the movements of an exercise set are designed to gently coax the balanced distribution of energy in the body with the help of simple mental visualization, the body will seek a naturally balanced, strong internal state.
The Yellow Emperor's Classic on Internal Medicine (Huang Ti Nei Jing), one of the oldest Chinese medical text, embraces the principle, "life is movement." While it is certainly possible to move energy in the body by using the mind alone, gentle mental intention combined with physical movement is much more efficient and is better for the body as a whole. If the movements are accomplished through a balanced, systematic process, starting with simple movements and gradually increasing the complexity of the movements, the process will be safe and results long lasting. In order to reach optimum health, muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, internal organs, and energy meridians all need to move through their full range of natural motion everyday. If the body does not move, things will stagnate, tighten, and bind up, and eventually problems will arise.
The art of Ba Gua Zhang is based on the theory of change. Nothing stands still. Therefore, the majority of all qi gong performed in Ba Gua Zhang involves moving the body, not standing or sitting statically. Ba Gua instructor Park Bok Nam says that in order to have a balanced practice, the practice must adhere to natural principles. He states that everything in nature adheres to the trinity of Chinese philosophy, namely yin/yang theory, five element theory, and the Yi Jing theory (theory of change). In nature, yin and yang are represented by the sun and moon, the earth contains the five elements, and the theory of change is demonstrated in the continuous rotation of the sun and moon around the earth. If there was no sun and moon (yin and yang), there would be no earth and thus there would be no five element cycles. If the sun and moon did not rotate around the earth, life could not be supported on the earth and thus there would be no five elements. In order for there to be a balance in nature, all three principles must be represented. Since Ba Gua adheres to natural principles, these components must be present in all aspects of training. Therefore, in order for the practice to be complete, the practice should include the idea of continuous change through body movement.
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