Questions about The Five Taoist Yin

Working with the Yin Meridians - Metal
#SBqigong #trueqigong #DesLawton

Over the decades I have had the opportunity to answer many questions about the Five Taoist Yin (AKA the Five Yin) Qigong that have been asked by my students. I’m sure that there are plenty of other questions out there and that some practitioners may already be asking some of the same questions so I thought that it would be a good idea to add them to the Pro Holistic blog. That should, in theory at least, give practitioners who are not my direct students the chance to find the answers that they seek. If you have a question, or can add to an answer, please use the comments box.

Question from Winston

Hi Des, thanks for the message. I have two questions with regard to the Fire movement. Where is the belly button facing on completion of the turn? I did Karate for many years and am tempted to swing on my hips automatically. Secondly, is the lower hand extended past the elbow of the upper hand on completion of the turn?

Answer from Des

Hello Winston,
The direction of the belly button is totally determined by the “folding” of the kua (hip crease) on the wighted leg. There is no additional twisting of the waist or turning of the shoulders.The important part here is that the Qi is sunk and the weight is rooted through KD1 in the supporting leg.

There is no need to extend the lower hand past the elbow of the upper hand.

With the Heart Governor version the focus is on opening the palms (opening HG8) and directing the Qi to and through it in both hands. It is good practice to finish the physical movement at about 90% of your exhalation and use the remainder to guide the Qi by solely using the Yi (brain).

With the Heart version the focus is on pulling the pinky finger, of the upper hand, back towards your centre line. Initially you are doing nothing with the lower hand. Once you have had time to become familiar with this version, on the first exhalation as you guide the Qi to the upper hand, “listen” to the effect that has on the pinky (Ht meridian) of the lower hand…………….

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Question from Simon

What to ‘look’ for?
Hi Des. I’ve been practising the first three movements daily now (am slowly adding more each week). I have two questions that are related that I wonder whether you can help with. Firstly, I know you elude to this in an earlier part so the course, but what is it that I should be ‘looking’ for in feeling Qi? Secondly, should you do the exercises with eyes open or closed? The reason I ask, and the next bit might sound daft, but with my eyes closed, after a few minutes of the first movement, I get a pretty consistent ‘tingling’ for want of a better word (a bit like goosebumps but without the bumps?) from around my right knee that appears to travel upwards. With eyes open this doesn’t happen. Sorry, having written and now re-read it, it sounds rather mad, but I’m curious.
By the way, I love the clear and simple directions, along with the theory to back up the movements – great stuff.

Answer from Des

Hi Simon,
Not mad at all………….. They are questions that I get over and over.

“………………..what is it that I should be ‘looking’ for in feeling Qi?” You are “looking” for two things………. nothing and change. This might appear to be an ambiguous answer. It is anything but! Qi is experienced in many, many, ways and a common error that is made by practitioners is that they look for, or feel for, the same sensation/manifestation every time they practice. By using “Listening Jing” and being passively aware you open up your opportunities to experience the vast array of Qi. You experience these by noticing change……… The experiences of the subtle changes that occur in the Qi are almost always impossible to describe to your satisfaction and (when it is the Qi that you are describing) you find yourself saying things like “It is a bit like…..” “……… It kind of reminds me of………” Do you recognise that difficulty in description?  It can get very frustrating if you are trying to describe what you are experiencing because you are fettered by language that describes the physical as you try to describe the energetic.

“should you do the exercises with eyes open or closed?” Open or closed eyes are dealt with in stages. Initially the eyes should be open as this assists you to guide the Qi during the movements. Once you start to become aware of the Qi (and you are) you can close your eyes and “Listen” to how it moves and changes. For beginners, having the eyes closed can be a disadvantage and slow progress. However, as I have said, once you start to be aware of the Qi there is an advantage in closing the eyes as this removes visual distraction and you are then using the Yi (cognitive mind) to guide the Qi while getting the feedback (experiencing the changes and movement) using “Listening Jing”.

“The reason I ask, and the next bit might sound daft, but with my eyes closed, after a few minutes of the first movement, I get a pretty consistent ‘tingling’ for want of a better word (a bit like goosebumps but without the bumps?) from around my right knee that appears to travel upwards. With eyes open this doesn’t happen.” When you are closing your eyes your body/mind is becoming quiet. With your eyes open your surroundings, what you are seeing, is creating “noise”.

It is great to hear of your progress! I hope that this helps.

Response from Simon

Hi Des, thanks, your reply is much appreciated. In fact this morning I experienced that same feeling running along the neck and side of face whilst performing ‘Sliding down the mirror” – more or less along the same path as noted in the introductory notes there.
Best wishes

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Question from Hugh

Where to next?
Hi Des,
I’ve recently joined your Qigong course, Connecting Heaven and Earth and now practice daily. I’ve really enjoyed learning this form and would like to learn more. I note you have some other courses and I was wondering if you might suggest another to try or perhaps a sequence in which to take the courses on? I would also like to develop some knowledge of the theory behind the forms. Could you recommend a book perhaps that would give some theory regarding the points that are mentioned and perhaps how different movements relate to the body and health.

I also practice Wing Tsun which is focused externally. At a recent seminar I came across Qigong and the tangible reality of internal arts fascinated me and started me on this path. I am now very keen to learn more. Connecting Heaven and Earth has been wonderful, so I would be delighted if you could offer some further advice.

Answer from Des

Hi Hugh,
Given your Wing Tsun background, I recommend the Embroidered Brocade as your next course. As well as being excellent Qigong these exercises really make you work on posture, rooting the body and sinking the Qi………… All of which are necessary in Qigong. But they will also have an effect on your Kung Fu as they were developed, in part, to increase Peng. They were the first Qigong that I learned and I still practice them regularly over thirty years on. Testiment to their quality.
Regarding books. I do not know of any that are Qigong specific (a project that I have been wrestling with for many years) but there is a book on general TCM called “A Tooth from the Tiger’s Mouth” by Tom Bisio that is well worth having in your reading list.
I’m really pleased that you enjoyed CH&E and that your Qigong journey is well and truly started.


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Question from Linda

For ‘eagle spreads its wings’, should the fingers be spread  as wide for both the upward and downward movement?


Answer from Des

Yes, you need to keep the fingers spread for both movements.


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Question from Leigh

When crossing your hands either at the heart, or at the third eye does it matter which hand is closest to the body for each move?

Answer from Des

No, it does not really matter. You could focus on alternating left and right but this is an additional distraction. What you will probably find is that your arms will start to cross in an apparently random manner as the Yi guides them, subconsciously, to maintain balance in the Qi.


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Question from Karen

Why do we splay the fingers slightly for eagle spreads its wings and then keep them closed for saying a prayer?

Answer from Des

In the Eagle Spreads its Wings, the hands are opened like this so that the acupuncture point, Heart Governor 8 is opened/activated.  The point is in the centre of the palm.
In Saying a Prayer, with the fingers gently closed, Small Intestine 3 is opened/activated as the hands are lowered.


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Question from Karen

Saying a prayer – When guiding the Qi down towards the Dantian is it 3 dimensionally through all meridians in the body or should I be guiding the Qi through a linear channel like chong mai, ren mai or just between the hands or a different specific pathway?  

Answer from Des

Saying a Prayer - Draw the Qi to the Dantien from all directions.
  • The focus is between the hands.  The intention is the Dan Tien.
  • With the intention on the Dan Tien, the Qi starts to accumulate there even before the hands start to lower.
  • The lowering of the hands enhances this attraction to the Dan Tien and the accumulation of the Qi.
  • Even though the hands, the physical part of the exercise, are downward the Qi is drawn from all directions to your “centre”.
  • This, effectively and efficiently, guides the Qi through all the meridians and extra vessels

NB. For beginners. You are not drawing ALL your Qi to the Dan Tien (not possible).  You are, for want of a better description, putting newly earned cash in the bank.


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Question from Lesley

If you are constantly ‘sinking the chi’ in Wuji, what distinguishes this from guiding the chi along the various channels? Is there a different quality to the Chi that sinks and the Chi that is being guided, or is it being divided in some way?

Answer from Des

Short question……………. Longer answer!  This is going to take me a while to get the wording right (or as correct as my vocabulary will allow).

I’ll answer the last bit first…………. No, you are not dividing it. You are connecting it……… sort of.  That is to say that, through the action of sinking the Qi and raising the Shen, YOU are consciously connecting to your energy body.  Although we are looking at this, thinking about this, in a two dimensional manner…………. Up and down……… the expansion of our awareness of the energy body is in ALL directions (even though we might not be aware of this initially).

This action is only possible when our body/minds are quiet (I know that I keep on repeating this but it is crucial) and it is through this expansion of awareness that you become, truly, aware of your Qi. This awareness goes beyond the physical body.

All of these essences, these qualities are always connected (ie. They are always interacting and communicating) with these connections explained in the Five Element Theory.
The distinction that you ask about is that the sinking of the Qi and the raising of the Shen expands your awareness of self, of the energy body as well as the physical body.  You are then using this awareness to guide the Qi to various points and in various directions, depending on the accuracy of your Qigong. During this guiding you will experience the quality of the Qi that you are working on.
Additionally, how you experience the sinking Qi and raising Shen, and how you experience the Qi of the meridians (How your brain interprets what it is “feeling”) will not always be the same. This is because of what is known as your “condition”, the effect that your environment and life in general is having on you, affects the flow and the qualities of the Qi.


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Question from Craig

i was wondering if you could clarify the method used to keep shoulders dropped and connected during raise hands and sliding down a mirror movements, are there any visualizations that can be used to train the correct movement in the shoulder joint?

Answer from Des

The method of visualization that I prefer is to have “heavy” elbows.  By that, I mean that the elbows are always hanging down, that the shoulders are not strong enough to lift them.  Even when the hands are above shoulder level, or above the head, the weight of these “heavy” elbows keeps the shoulders down………….. and connected.


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Question from Robert

Is there a particular sequence for this set?

Answer from Des

Hello Robert,
Each of these Qigong can be done as an individual exercise if the practitioner wants to focus on that particular quality. However when you want to perform the entire set it is most beneficial if done in either of these two sequences: –

  • Using the Sheng Cycle, the feeding cycle, of Fire – Earth – Metal – Water – Wood.  Depending on what Element you wish to finish on (to focus on most) you start with the next Element in the sequence.
  • Using the Ke Cycle, the controlling cycle, of Fire – Metal – Wood – Earth – Water. Again, if you start on the next Element in the sequence to the one want to finish/focus on.

Regards,
Des

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Question from Shaz

For the Metal / Lung exercise is there are correct way to rotate the hands? Do that rotate around the thumb, around the centre longest finger, around the baby finger). These all feel different to me so was wondering if there are any guidelines or suggestions.

Answer from Des

For the Lung exercise:-

  • Just turn the palm upwards without the need to focus on any particular axis (this is the same when you turn the palm downward). Your focus should already be on the thumb as you do this.
  • Then “extend” through the thumbs as you open the arms. By this I mean that you slightly stretch the thumbs physically (as though you were giving directions and pointing with the thumb) and, more importantly, guiding the Qi to LU11 and through it.
  • By having awareness of LU1 opening as you are conscious of the Qi extending through LU11 you will appreciate the connection between the two and gradually your experience of the entire energy field (meridian) will become more substantial.

Regards,
Des

Do you have questions about The Five Taoist Yin?

Interested in Qigong? We have a group of Qigong enthusiasts (on Facebook) that you might want to join that is used by students and teachers to exchange ideas and ask questions. It is part of the San Bao Qigong.

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