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A Short Morning Practice to Remain in Good Shape
by Pierre Wittmann
Qi Gong has been practiced in China for more than 5,000 years. “Chi” means energy or breath, and “Gong” means work or practice. Qi Gong consists of a number of exercises that enable us to connect to cosmic energy and to integrate it in our body. The goals of the Qi Gong adepts are health and longevity.
This set of exercises trains all the muscles and joints of the body. It is fast and not too demanding for those who are lazy or have little time, but nevertheless want to stay in good health and keep a flexible, young and vigorous body. I recommend doing these exercises just after getting up. It is a good way to wake up, to quickly stimulate and energize every part of the body and be fresh as a daisy to begin the new day. It is also an excellent exercise for those who practice a sport that needs all parts of the body, like golf.
When the weather allows, it is recommended to exercise outside or in front of an open window. Unless told otherwise, do every exercise 20 times (or 10 times on each side or in each direction). The whole set takes about 10 to 20 minutes, according to your rhythm.
All the exercises are done standing. For all postures, unless told otherwise, the feet are slightly apart (a little less that the width of the shoulders) and well anchored on the ground, the knees are bent slightly and the centre of gravity of the body is in the hara (in the abdomen, 5 cm below the navel).
The list of exercises following is really a reminder, that I have tried to make as vivid as possible. However, if you have never practiced Qi Gong before, it is best to attend a demonstration or take a course, in order to understand the movements well.
- Shake the hands and the forearms while bending the knees on every jerk. Do this first exercise 50 times, or more, if your body is very numb.
- Let the arms hang by their own weight on each side of the body, then energetically turn the pelvis to one side then the other, while letting the shoulders and the arms follow the movement, driven along by centrifugal force. It is important that the impulse comes from the hara, and not from the arms. Place yourself at a sufficient distance from walls or furniture in order that you don't hurt your hands.
- The feet together, raise the hands above the head as high as possible, as if you wanted to grab a rope to ring a bell, then pull down with all your strength letting the arms go down on each side of the body and bending the knees. Repeat 10 times.
- The feet together, raise one arm forward and the other behind, and alternate, as if you were practicing cross-country skiing.
- Raise the two hands above the head, the open palms turned upwards, and push upwards, with one hand, then with the other, as if you wanted to push up the sky or the ceiling. The two feet remain flat on the ground, and the gaze is directed in front of you during the whole exercise.
- Raise the right leg in front of you to bring the foot 20 cm above the ground. Turn the foot 10 times in one direction and 10 times in the other. Turn then the leg around the knee 10 times in each direction. Turn then the thigh around the hip 10 times in each direction. At the end, raise the foot backwards while bending the knee, then vigorously throw the foot forward, as if you were giving a kick. Do the same exercise with the left leg.
- Hands on the hips, turn the head to the right then to the left, without turning the shoulders.
- Hands on the hips, lean the head on the right then on the left, without moving the shoulders.
- Hands on the hips, lean the head forward then backwards.
- Hands on the hips, stretch the chin forward, then bring the chin in.
- Put the hands on the hips and push the hips to the right, then to the left, without moving the head and the feet.
- Put one hand on the abdomen and the other on the lower back, and push the sacrum forth and back, 10 times, as if you were making love. Then turn the sacrum 10 times in each direction.
- For the women, massage of breasts. Grab one breast in each hand and do a vigorous rotary massage, 45 times in each direction.
For the men, massage of testicles. Grab one testicle in each hand and massage them vigorously 90 times while tightening and pulling downwards with the tips of the fingers.
- Turn the shoulders 90° to the left. With the right hand placed before you, palm open toward the left, push toward the left, as if you wanted to push a wall situated on your left; with the left hand placed behind you, palm open to the right, push toward the right, as if you wanted to push a wall situated on your right. Then make the same movement while turning the shoulders to the right. Repeat 5 times. For this exercise the feet are a little more apart and well anchored on the ground, the knees a little more bent. Fix your attention during the whole exercise on the centre of gravity placed in the hara around which the twist takes place.
- Bend the arms, the elbows along the body and the hands, palms open toward the front, outside the shoulders. Close the fists, then pull the shoulders backwards sticking out the torso and leaning the head backwards. Bend the knees a little, tighten the buttocks, contract the anus and arch the back backwards. The whole body is tense. Then relax the whole body, letting the head, the shoulders and the arms fall forward, palms open toward the front, and the back stooped. Repeat 10 times.
- Separate the feet to the width of the shoulders. Raise the two arms as high as possible and close the hands as if to grab the horizontal rod of a big dumbbell. Bend the knees slowly while keeping the back straight and the feet flat on the ground, and lower the hands progressively along the body as if you wanted to put this dumbbell gently on the ground in front of you. Remain a few seconds in the squatting position, then stand up again slowly while doing the opposite movement. Repeat 10 times. At the end, remain squatting for one minute while keeping the feet flat on the ground! If you have difficulty not raising the heels, train in the beginning while holding on to a fixed object in front of you (a fence, a door handle, a radiator…)
- Turn the hands 10 times around the wrists while folding the fingers one after the other, then 10 times in the opposite direction while unfolding the fingers one after the other.
- The feet together, place the hands on the hips and turn the pelvis, 10 times in one direction and 10 times in the other, without moving the feet or the head.
- Same exercise with the feet apart the width of the shoulders.
- Close the fists and vigorously hit the lumbar part of your back with your fists, on each side of the backbone, going up and then down along the back, and hitting alternately with each fist. Repeat the exercise 5 times.
- Same exercise, hitting vigorously on the chest, going down then up 5 times from the shoulder to the lower part of the sternum. Hit first with the right fist on the left side. Same exercise on the right side.
- Same exercise, hitting the shoulders, from the base of the neck to the extremity of the shoulder.
- Put the feet together, bend the knees a little, place the hands on the knees and turn the knees, without moving the pelvis, 10 times in each direction.
- Stretch the arms horizontally on each side, palms downwards, bend the ring fingers and little fingers and place the thumb over them, keeping the forefingers and middle fingers straight. Bend the wrists upwards then downwards 20 times.
- Same position of the arms, fingers spread and straight, turn then the hands and the forearms in one way and in the other, 20 times.
- Join the hands and cross the fingers, then turn the hands so that the palms face outside. Stretch the arms skywards, then arch the back while pulling the arms backwards 10 times.
- Join the hands and cross the fingers, then place the palms on the hara, turn the hands so that the palms face outside while stretching the arms forward, bring the arms skywards, then turn the palms downwards and bring them down again along the body to the hara while bending the elbows. Repeat this rotation 10 times.
- Feet together, join the hands and cross the fingers, then turn the hands so that the palms face outside. Stretch the arms skywards, then lean to the right while pulling the arms downwards 10 times. Repeat the exercise on the left side.
- Lean forward, with legs straight, while letting the head and the arms fall towards the ground, then push the shoulders down 20 times.
- Balancing on the right leg, bend the left leg while placing the knee against the chest, then hold the knee firmly in this position with the left arm, with the knee inside the elbow, and put the right hand on the left ankle. Count up to 20 in this position. Do the same exercise balancing on the other leg.
- Balancing on the right leg, bend the left knee while raising the foot backwards and grip the left ankle with the right hand, pushing the foot backwards while arching the back. Stretch the left arm skywards. The head stays straight and the gaze is directed forward. Turn then the left hand and forearm first one way and in the other, 20 times, with the fingers spread and straight. Do the same exercise balancing on the other leg.
- Place the right hand on the hara and the left hand on the right hand and turn 36 times clockwise, reverse the hands and turn 24 times anticlockwise.
- Close your eyes and remain standing for a few minutes, without moving, while relaxing all your muscles and letting the arms and shoulders fall freely, bring the chin in and keep the back straight. Breathe deeply and place your concentration in the hara, observing the centre of gravity of the body there, the heat produced by our vital energy source, and the rising and falling of the abdomen provoked by the breathing.