From YMAA publications:
Hands (Fingers and Palms)
Usually when you exercise your fingers, your palms are also involved. In addition, since they are all connected, whenever you exercise your hands you are also to some degree exercising your wrists.
Chinese physicians have found that people who use their hands and fingers a lot are sick less often than people who don’t. The reason for this is very simple. There are six primary Qi channels that connect the fingers to six of your internal organs. Whenever you work with your hands, you build up Qi in those channels, and this Qi then flows into and nourishes the internal organs. There are many Qigong exercises for the hands. We will present four of them.
Swimming Octopus (Zhang Yu You Shui). This exercise also includes the wrists. Stretch your hands forward while spreading out the fingers (Figure 4-70), and then draw your wrists back while closing the fingers (Figure 4-71). Move your hands in and out, opening and closing the hands so that they look like a swimming octopus. If you wish, you may practice this one hand at a time. After doing this movement thirty to fifty times, your fingers, palms, and wrists will usually feel very warm. Remember, when you practice your hands should remain as relaxed as possible, and your mind should be concentrated on them.
Flying Finger Waves Gong (Zhi Bo Xiang Gong). This exercise is used by the Crane style of Gongfu to strengthen the palms and the base of the fingers. Simply bend your thumbs and fingers one after the other and then straighten them one at a time, repeating the motion in a sort of wave (Figure 4-72). Only bend the knuckles closest to the hands. If you bend the other knuckles you will fail to develop the base of the fingers. After you have done twenty to fifty repetitions, your palms and the base of your fingers should feel very warm and perhaps a little sore. After practicing, relax your arms as much as possible to allow the Qi that has accumulated in your hands to circulate to your arms and body.
Tiger Claw Training (Hu Zhua Xing Gong). This exercise originated with the Tiger Claw style of Gongfu, and is more strenuous than the previous ones. This means that you should be more careful about how much tension you generate during practice. If your arthritis is very serious, you should probably not tense your muscles until your condition has improved, and then you should increase the tension very gradually.
To do this exercise, hold your hands like a tiger’s paws (Figure 4-73) and gradually pull all of your fingers in to the center of the palms (Figure 4-74 ), and then open your hands again to the tiger’s paw shape. After twenty to fifty repetitions, your fingers and palms should be very warm. When finished, relax your arms and allow the Qi to flow freely upward into your body.
Posted on May 13, 2017 by 魏懋资济
Authentic Wu Xing Qi Gong – Five Animal Qi Gong
Original Source Notice: The original article is found in our Wudangforum
Five Animal Qi Gong (五形氣功 – Wu Xing Qi Gong) originates from the famous Daoist Hua Tuo 華佗 (c. 140–208). He worked as a doctor during the Han Dynasty and was one of the first who implemented internal medicine according to the Bagua theory. The teachings of Hua Tuo are the foundation of today’s traditional Chinese medicine. Hua Tuo created the Five Animal Qi Gong with the concept of the “Five Element Theory” by calculating the powers of Yin and Yang into natural relations with the help of Bagua trigrams. As a concept of natural harmony Hua Tuo focused on restoring the internal balance inside the patient’s body by adjusting the Yin-Yang balance with the use of internal medicine and Qi Gong exercises. He counted as the best doctor during his period; he was executed later by Cao Cao (155-220) for deceiving him, Cao Cao deeply regretted his actions later by being unable to treat his son from a serious illness.
The concept of Five Animal Qi Gong is the relation to the five principal organs which are: Kidneys, Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lung. Each organ is responsible for physical and mental health and is a diagnostic tool in Chinese medicine. Hua Tuo’s teachings make aware of the understanding of our consciousness and the natural connection with our perception on physical and mental levels. This concept created the essential foundation for philosophical Daoism to turn into a practical way of longevity.
The Daoists continued to study the teachings of Bagua theory and Hua Tuo’s animal theory. Inspired by immortality and the internal understanding of our nature, very effective health prevention exercises were created, using all resources of our being to restore and balance the internal energy (Qi). This internal energy is the concept of our very existence on all levels.
Our Academy is certified from Wudangshan to have inherited the authentic study of traditional Daoist Wu Xing Qi Gong. There are many other dubious five animal styles, the main reason why people consider our Qi Gong is that you feel the health benefits after the first lesson. Reading this article is not enough since there is also the internal focus with coordinated breathing. You can study our Qi Gong in our academies or online via Patreon; we have many in-depth tutorials regarding this exercises.
Five Animal Qi Gong does show health benefits after only one training session and helps to restore one’s health in a very short amount of time. People who study Qi Gong for years and still have health issues, certainly do something wrong. Five Animal Qi Gong should not only restore health but strengthen the body and improve life quality; this is why our Qi Gong is a life long mission to enhance the connection of our body and mind.
The five postures (animals) are Dragon, Tiger, Leopard, Serpent (Snake) and Crane.
Note: The five animal postures work best when practiced in the listened order, specific orders may be used for TCM self-therapy but are not recommend in general practice without a master’s directions. Like the five seasons, these postures interconnect with each other.
Dragon – Water Element – Kidney Meridian (Kd1-27)
Kidney MeridianThe Dragon pose opens the meridian of the kidneys by stretching the fascia and blood vessels. The position also relieves pressure in the spine and the knee joints. The posture consists of turning the front knee 90 degrees and twisting the lower back while keeping the channels between chest and shoulder round like in Zhan Zhuang exercise. The kidney has an important function of storing energy. Stimulating the kidneys with this posture makes us feel more awake (this has an emotional effect of losing fear and may result becoming more gentle). The turning of the cervical spine while looking into your extended hand can improve one’s equilibrium capacity. Diminished hearing or ringing noises in the ear or dryness, hot flashes, night sweat and dark circles under the eyes can be a sign for weak kidney Qi.
Tiger – Metal Element – Lung Meridian (Lu1-11)
Lung MeridianThis posture uses the lung function by transporting oxygen in a state of high tension. The tiger promotes self-discipline and can help in the emotional state of grief and may result in bravery. During this exercise, the lung meridian is stimulated by stretching both arms and shoulders. The tiger can improve the “long breathing” by not losing power too fast when breathing, a longer breath results in slower heart rhythm and greater energy (Qi) efficiency. The power to last longer gives us the emotional state of being able to do anything and can ease depression. With the Tiger posture the physical body grows strong and the mental determination stable. Overly critical people or people with a higher risk of allergies, asthma and skin diseases can restore their Qi balance by stimulating the lung meridian.
Leopard – Wood Element – Liver Meridian (Lv1-14)
Liver MeridianThe leopard stance helps against too much yang energy and harmonizes the Yin-Yang balance by promoting the liver Qi. The most important part is the vertical positioning of the upper body, this helps to bring the Qi flow up to the Bai Hui 百會 (GV20) to ease headaches, migraines, eye pain, dizziness and hypertension originating from the liver fire. The posture relieves the emotional state of anger and may result in a clear vision of goals. The Leopard posture is the most important for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s prevention; patients have the feeling of easing the symptoms by practicing this stance.
Serpent (Snake) – Earth Element – Spleen Merdian (Sp1-20)
Spleen MeridianThe Serpent stimulated the spleen by relieving the hip from blockades and opening the joints. The alignment of the upper body must be the same as the legs and connect the spleen meridian in one straight line. This alignment promotes the circulation of the Shen Zhu 身柱 (GV12) and makes it an effective posture for easing the effects of epilepsy and enhances the effects of the Tiger and Leopard postures. The Serpent is necessary for intellectual people since they tend to overuse the earth Qi and may have more problems with digestion, diarrhea, bloating and food allergies. Regular practicing of the Serpent may result in more joy in life.
Crane – Fire Element – Heart Meridian (Hd1-9)
Heart MeridianThe Crane posture is effective for stressed and hectic people (ADHD syndrome). The breathing must be calm and flowing to promote a slow heartbeat and so emotional silence. The extended arms should be relaxed but remain in place without moving. People who are vulnerable to hot weather should practice the Crane posture. Practicing the Crane can help in the emotional state of hatred and may result in resolving.
Special Thanks to Bernhard, a student of the Wudang Academy Vienna for demonstrating us the postures on this rainy example videos.
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