This 800-year old exercise, which the ancients likened to beautiful brocade, consists of eight sections, is very popular among the Chinese people. There are different postures such as sitting or standing; each section can be practiced on its own and each targets a specific organ or health need. The whole set of movements are fine and delicate with moderate intensity. The movements can vary greatly according to different schools of practice; the following is the most important and widely practiced protocol.
Prepare yourself by standing naturally with feet shoulder-width apart, and the hands hanging by both sides. Be calm, focused and let the body relax and the breathing natural.
Shaolin Monk 8 Pieces of Brocade (Baduan Jin)
|1. Hold up the hands to regulate the triple burner|
This section is said to benefit the triple burner, which is the passage for water, nutrients and fluid throughout the body. This exercise activates the fluid flowing in it and ensures proper nourishment throughout the body.
|2. Draw a bow like shooting a hawk|
This section is said to benefit the lungs by expanding the chest and exercising the muscles of the upper body.
|3. Raise one arm to regulate the spleen and stomach|
This section is said to regulate the spleen and stomach by the lifting and lowering actions. It contributes to the ascending of spleen-qi and the descending of stomach-qi, thus promoting the digestive functions.
|4. Turn the head back to treat consumptive diseases and injuries|
This section is said to benefit those with consumptive disease and injuries by enriching the essence and blood, calming the mind and promoting organ functioning.
|5. Sway the head and swing the buttocks to expel the heart-fire|
It is said that swaying the head can send down heart-fire while swinging the buttocks causes the kidney-yin to ascend to meet the heart-fire; it lets both organs mutually complement each other. See "The kidneys' relationship with the heart".
|6. Hold the feet by the hands to reinforce the loins and kidneys|
This section can reinforce the kidneys and strengthen the waist and the knees. The kidneys are the source of all energy in the body and are located near the waist; constant practice benefits the function of all the other organ systems as well.
|7. Punch with anger|
This section is said to strengthen the muscles of the whole body.
|8. Shake the spine to help prevent disease|
This section is said to enhance the protective qi and promote resistance. The Bladder Meridian, which governs the surface of the whole body, passes through the neck. The movements promote the smooth flow of protective qi and secure the striae on the body surface.
The Eight-brocade Exercise (Ba Duan Jin) is a simple sequence of movements, appropriate for almost anyone. Unlike more advanced Qigong practices, it can be learned from a book. The complete set of movements only takes five to ten minutes to do and helps to release blockages along all twelve meridians. The movements are recommended for chronic conditions like neurasthenia, coronary heart disease, bronchitis and soreness in the lumbar region. You can choose the specific sections according your health needs, e.g. respiratory diseases are suitable for the second and fifth sections; lumbar problems are suitable for the fifth, sixth and eighth sections.