The way you turn basic calisthenics or stretches into energy exercises is
to focus your awareness on the movement itself and what you are trying to
achieve by doing that particular movement. You use deep, focused breathing.
You visualize the meridian or channel being stretched or stimulated. You can
even heighten the effect by deliberately accessing specific acupoints while
performing the movement. And you do it all in a slow, rhythmic pattern. When
it comes to energy exercises, you are going for quality, not quantity. The
only aspect of quantity worth mentioning is the principle of three times
three in Polarity. Let’s say that you are going to do a series of eight
exercises. You would do each one three times and then repeat the entire
eight exercise cycle twice more for a total of three sets of eight. We don’t
follow that principle when doing the Jin Shin Do warm ups. We do each
exercise three to five times, one time through. Different modalities,
I am going to type out some instructions for doing specific exercises, both
Jin Shin Do and Polarity. Before I do, I will mention an absolutely
excellent book on the subject. It is called “Energy Exercises” by John
Chitty and Mary Louise Muller. It is published by Polarity Press in Boulder
Colorado and runs about $18 new. As you can guess from the publisher, all of
the exercises in it are derived from the works of Dr. Randolph Stone (the
developer of Polarity Therapy). In total, it details 77 different exercises
you can do for different parts of the body or different purposes. It also,
however, has an excellent beginning section that covers some of the basic
principles of Polarity Therapy and the energetics of the Chakra structure. I
recommend it highly on both counts.
Other avenues you can look at are things like Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or any of
the exercises used in oriental martial arts such as Kung Fu, Judo, Tae Kwan
Do or Karate. At deeper, more advanced levels, the personal defense aspects
of the martial arts take a back seat to the development and control of chi.
It is like a lot of this – different modalities, schools or forms, all using
or addressing the same underlying structure but coming at it from different
angles and using different names for the same thing.
Deep focused breathing – how do you do it? What we are told to do is use
something called the “microcosmic orbit.” This has you visualize taking your
breath in from the ground, up your legs and through your spine. You breathe
in through your nose. You breathe out through your mouth. But instead of
visualizing out through the spine, you visualize down the front of your
body. In equals up through the back; out equals down through the front.
Where do you put this breath that you are taking in? You start deep in the
pit of your abdomen and fill your body with air going up, including trying
to totally fill the tops of your lungs. You are visualizing filling yourself
with air like filling a long, thin balloon. After you have completely filled
your lungs, hold that breath for a count of from three to five seconds. When
you breath out, concentrate on totally squeezing ALL of the air out of your
lungs. This allows more space for your next inhalation, allowing you to
breathe even more deeply. Over time, it also helps increase your lung
This is a fairly long cycle for one breath, isn’t it?
And now you start to understand what I was referring to earlier when I said
that energy exercises are done in a SLOW, rhythmic pattern. If each breath
cycle takes from 10 to 15 seconds to complete and you are matching each full
movement cycle to one full breath, there is no way you are going to just zip
through the exercises in some whiz bang fashion. Not all of the exercises
will be performed this slowly. But those that can be, should be. Also, some
exercises are designed to work with and match the breathing cycle. Others
have you take a breath in and then do the movement while exhaling. Others
have you take a breath in and hold it. And matching breath to movement is
the ideal – it doesn’t always happen in practice because it takes practice
to do it properly. It is the ideal that you strive to meet.
So how about some specific exercises? I am going to start with the Jin Shin
Do exercises. There are eight, called either Pal Dan Gum or the Eight Silken
Movements. In addition to describing how to do them, I will type in a brief
explanation of what they are intended to accomplish.
1. Upholding Heaven with the Two Hands.
Improves circulation throughout internal organs. Stimulates Triple Warmer
and Pericardium Meridians.
Inhale while raising both arms above your head. Raise your arms by sweeping
outward in a wide circle, visualizing gathering energy into that circle
while doing it. Interlock your fingers and then push upward with your palms
toward the sky. Raise your head toward the sky while doing this and try to
raise onto your toes at the same time. Hold for a count of three to five and
then exhale while bringing your arms back down and around so you end up with
your arms crossed in front of your chest. Repeat at least three times.
2. Opening the Bow
Expands chest and stimulates Lung meridians.
Start with your arms crossed in front of your chest in the ending position
of #1 and with knees slightly bent. Make soft fists. Then, starting with one
side (say the right), extend that arm and hand straight out to the side from
the shoulder in a long stretch. Point your index finger to the sky by
extending your finger and bending your wrist. Simultaneous with stretching
your right arm to the side, bend your left arm and stretch it back like you
were drawing a bow. Take the tips of your fingers and apply pressure to Lung
1 in the hollow below the shoulder. Sight down your right arm toward your
extended finger and then stretch in a bow pull to open up your chest. Hold
for a count of three to five. You inhale while Opening the Bow, hold it
while in full stretch and then exhale while returning to your beginning,
cross-arm position. Repeat the movement in the other direction by extending
your left arm out. One full movement cycle includes both directions. Repeat
the full movement cycle (both directions) at least three times.
3. Raising the Hands Separately.
Strengthens digestion and stimulates both Large and Small Intestine
Meridians. Harmonizes Stomach and Spleen Meridians.
Start in a relaxed position with your feet about shoulder width apart.
Visualize a big energy ball in front of your abdomen. Place one hand on top
of that energy ball and the other beneath it. Focus your intention on the
connection of your hands to that ball by feeling for a sense of energy
running in a line between your palms. Then slowly roll your hands around so
first your right hand is on top and your left is on the bottom then your
left is on top and your right is on the bottom. Visualize that you are
bringing energy into that ball while doing this. How big can you make it and
still feel the connection between your palms? Then, starting with your right
arm, stretch your right arm toward the sky, bend you wrist backwards and
point your fingers to the left. At the same time, stretch your left arm
toward the ground, bend your wrist backwards and point the fingers of your
left hand to the right. Your right palm will be pointing toward the sky;
your left palm will be pointing toward the ground. Look up to the sky along
your outstretched arm, look down to the ground along your other outstretched
arm. You inhale while doing the stretch. You exhale while returning to the
starting position of your hands over and under the energy ball. Repeat
everything except this time, extend your left arm skyward and your right arm
toward the ground. This completes one cycle. Do at least three cycles.
4. Looking Backwards
Relieves fatigue in the five yin organs
Cross your arms in front of your face, palms toward your face. Extend your
arms out to the sides from the shoulders while rotating your head to one
side and looking over your shoulder toward the ground. At the same time,
arch your back and point your thumbs toward the ground to the extent
comfortable to do so. You inhale while moving your arms out to the side and
back. Exhale when returning your arms to the starting cross position. Repeat
in the other direction. This completes one full cycle. Do at least three
5. Swinging Trunk and Head
Releases fire chi from the Heart and relaxes the Kidney area.
Assume a relaxed position, feet about shoulder width apart. Place your hands
on your hips. Take a deep inhalation. Bend forward at the waist, then
backwards at the waist, then raise your left arm over your head and bend to
the right at the waist, return left hand to hip and raise right hand
overhead and bend to the left. Return to neutral. Your exhalation is timed
so all of these movements are done in the space of one exhalation. This is
one full cycle. Do at least three cycles.
6. Standing on Toes
Increases general body balance and harmony with nature. Strengthens Stomach
and Kidney Meridians.
Assume a relaxed position with feet about shoulder width apart. Let your
arms hang loosely at your sides. Rock forward into a toe raise position
while at the same time, bending your wrists backwards so your fingers are
pointing forward. Then rock backward onto your heels while simultaneously
flexing your wrists so your fingers also point backward. Inhale while
raising onto your toes. Exhale while lowering back down to full heel rock
position. Start your next inhale as you start moving forward again. Do at
least three times, forward and back.
7. Punching with Angry Eyes.
Releases blocked chi in shoulders and biceps.
Place your feet slightly farther apart than shoulder width. Squat down and
bend forward at the waist. Bend your arms in front of your chest and make
fists in a boxing posture. While looking straight ahead, take a deep breath.
Then make two quick, forward punches with sharp “hah” exhalations with each
punch. Take a quick inhale, turn to the right and make two more punches to
right with “hah” exhalations. Repeat toward the left. Do three cycles of
front, right, and left. Finish by arching back and punching toward the sky
and then forward and punching toward the ground (two punches each). Make
palm down, swirling motions in front of you and then go up onto your toes
with arms over your head and one final “hah.”
8. Holding the Toes and Stretching Back.
Increases flexibility and stimulates all leg meridians.
Start relaxed, feet shoulder width. Stretch your arms over your head, palms
facing in toward the mid-line of your body. Visualize grabbing energy. Bend
forward at the waist, bringing that energy down with you. Go into a touching
of the toes position, bending your knees if necessary. Hold that position.
Then, slowly uncurl, bringing the energy back up with your hands and end by
putting your fists into the small of your back and massaging that energy
into your kidneys with your knuckles. You start your inhale when you stretch
to the sky. You hold while going into your toe touch. You exhale when you
straighten back up.
I will finish with just a couple that we use in Polarity. One is just a
basic, simple squat position. It is not an exercise as such but is used to
ground and center. Drop into a squat, resting your arms on your knees. Clasp
your hands and put your two thumbs against your third eye. Then do deep
breathing and meditation for as long as you are comfortable in the position.
The last two times I did this one in class, I went away some place. Don’t
know where I was but it sure was serene, relaxing and peaceful. A couple of
others are just basic shoulder shrugs and swinging the arms and torso side
This should be enough to get you started. Let me know if you want to know
more after you get these down.
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