Embroidered Brocade Qigong

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  1. Des

    Received via email

    (Q) It’s been difficult to gauge the effects of the exercises this week due to getting hot flushes and sleep disturbances. It’s hard to work out whether it’s hormonal or due to the exercises – it would be good to talk and try to work out which is which, if possible.
    Regarding listening around the head – very hard for me, as I’ve been told in the past to avoid taking energy that high.

    (A) The Qigong exercise, from the Embroidered Brocade, that could cause flushes and disturbed sleep is White Crane (the one that you have just learned)…………. but it would only occur from excessive practice. Like the Shibashi, this set has a (generally) downward flow of Qi that is reflected in the rooting.
    With White Crane this is important as you are extending the Qi above the head and that is one of the reasons that the front foot is raised from the floor. To raise the front foot, the root must be secure and this activates KD1. In addition to this, the precise action of raising the front foot activates KD 3, 4, 5 & 6 (in the ankle). Both of these have a governing effect on Fire Qi and stop the Qi from rising too much……….. Effectively acting in a homeostatic manner that negates any risk of the adverse effects that you describe. Additionally, the Embroidered Brocade, when practiced as a set, starts and finishes with Folding Over and this centres the Qi.
    Pay more attention to the rooting and sinking of the Qi, as well as the peeling off and replacement of the front foot .

    As far as listening to the Qi in and around the head, there is no risk in this as long as that is not the only part of the body that you are paying attention to. You should sink/root/relax from the feet up and listen from the head down…………….

    1. Des

      Recieved via email

      (Q) I have a couple of observations rather than questions; I’m very aware of the heartbeat and pulse in the neck in Golden Circle of Light, and feel a slight strain in the lower back in the forward stance in White Crane (I don’t have back problems). Not sure if it’s relevant at all….

      (A) In Golden Circle of Light:
      • The Qi is raised so awareness of sinking must be maintained. You can, safely, allow this raising by remembering to listen to the root towards the end of the exercise and draw the Qi back down. Alternatively, at the end of the exercise you could return to Wuji posture and place the hands on the Lower Dan Tien for a minute, or so.
      • Observe the hand position relative to the heart………… Occasionally, you may feel a pressure on the chest. This tends to occur when the expanding Qi is trapped/held between the hands and the chest. To overcome this, you must allow this expansion beyond the hands so that you are no longer holding the Circle of Light…………. and you find yourself within it.

      In White Crane:
      • This, slight, strain is probably being caused by an over-extension of the raised arm that produces an increase in the lordosis of the lower back (after years of doing Taiji, your back will have become sensitive to any misalignment in the spine). Remember that the physical extension stops and the energetic continues. Keep the arms soft and the elbows heavy.

  2. Lesley59

    Hi Des, I’d like to ask about the ‘Folding over’ movement. When bending down, is it allowable to bend the knees a little more in order for the hands to go right down to the ground, or should they remain at the same ‘soft’ angle?

    1. Des

      Hi Lesley, you can bend the knees (but not taking the knees in font of the toes) as long as the weight is still through Kidney 1 point, just behind the ball of the big toe and in the centre of the foot. It is movement/rubbing of the hands are used to guide the Qi along the meridians so the further along the leg that you keep contact the better. The physical aspect of the exercise (stretching) is secondary.

  3. Lesley59

    Hi Des, I have a question regarding the Five Elements movement. On raising the hands to the sides, should the palms face down or up? I’ve found also that the ‘rise’ for the larger circle or ‘sun’ feels as if it should be bigger than the lift for the ‘moon’; is this correct?

  4. Des

    When raising the hands, during the outward/circular motion of “the sun”, the palms are turned upwards as they start to rise.

    Regarding the amount of rise I will deal with the physical aspect first.
    The rise can be dependent on the amount of sink. The physical distance that the body sinks should be through relaxation in all the movements. This relaxation will, in turn, depend on and restriction in the Qi flow that is being promoted by that particular component (I do not like this explanation as it infers that the exercise is fragmented rather than whole, but it is the best that I can come up with this afternoon).

    When there is restriction there will be less relaxation and therefore less physical movement. This applies to both the sinking of the Qi and the raising of the Shen…………… So, you may well find that you are not sinking as far or rising as far.

    Now to the energetic aspect………. The sun movement IS bigger, energetically more expansive (Fire), and will want to “lift” you higher than the moon movement. The upwards moon movement being more associated with Fire is not as expansive.

    Here is a breakdown of what the primary Element is during each ‘part’ of the exercise.
    Fire: Rising movement (from when the palms are turned up) of “the sun”
    Metal: Downward, sinking, movement of “the sun”
    Wood: Upward, rising, movement of “the moon
    Earth: Downward, sinking, movement of “the moon” (until the hands reach the Dan Tien)
    Water: Outward/lateral movement (palms facing down)

  5. Clachaig

    HI Des,

    You emphasize care with breathing for the Embroidered Brocade exercises, particularly touching the top of mouth with the tongue. Is this recommended or useful for Shabashi or other sequences?

    1. Des

      Yes, these guidelines are recommended for the vast majority of Qigong exercises.

      However, there are exceptions where, for example: –

      • The speed of respiration no longer determines the speed of movement
      • The tongue does not keep continuous contact with the roof of the mouth.
      • The breath is not guided to the Lower Dan Tien.

      Additional information will be given in these cases.

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