By Master James McNeil and Sifu Rich, with Dr. Iris Seeley
An 85 year old man walks out into the middle of a city park and begins to do a strange form of movement. As you watch he demonstrates an unusual spryness and uncharacteristic flexibility for someone his age. A dance-like pattern begins to manifest itself — elusive, beautiful, but radiating a power that isn’t just flow, but explosive and effortless. As you watch this old man practice you realize that what is happening is not an exercise in stretching, or cardio, but a spiritual exercise of reverse aging.
What he was doing is called Tai Chi Chuan (Grand Ultimate Fist), a special and ancient exercise that has been used for centuries to combat aging and improve health. To be an expert at the true form of Tai Chi Chuan is able to be able to combine Qi Gong, meditation, and Kung Fu (martial arts) all in the same form. This triad of mind, body, and spirit is essential to Tai Chi.
There are numerous clinical studies demonstrating the power of Tai Chi Chuan and millions of practitioners over many centuries can attest to its powerful benefits. Many popular movies also discuss its power in self-defense, practical combat, and strategy. These larger than life abilities actually exist and can be witnessed in practitioners of Tai Chi Chuan. To have these skills, one must practice consistently, learning from a proper instructor; with this strategy an older adult can often defeat a young man in his prime.
Qi Gong simply means moving with proper breathing; Qi Gong exercises are simple to create; each exercise offers different benefits. The highest levels of Qi Gong exercises are very formal routines that are recipes for life extension and are a part of achieving a life-extended state known as Taoist immortality.
Reaching for Heaven and Earth is one qigong exercise where you can actually see the process working right away. Whereas most Qi Gong exercises take a few days or weeks to notice the changes that are occurring in your body, this exercise gives an immediate physical indicator that it is working. As you raise one hand up and the other one down, you will notice that the lower hand will darken to a blotchy red and the upper hand will change to a lighter pale color. (See Photo #5)
Here, Yin energy can be seen as the lessening of blood flow and Yang energy can be seen as the increasing of blood flow.
Follow these steps:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Put your hands in front of you, palms facing each other, solar plexus level. Hold them just far enough apart so you can feel the energy (heat) in both hands. Move the hands in a small circle. (See Photo #1)
- Inhale and exhale naturally while feeling the energy.
- Separate the hands with the left hand up above your head and the right hand down behind the left leg. Follow the right hand with your head and keep your eyes on your hand which is going behind you. (See Photo #2)
- As you inhale, stretch the left hand up as high as it will go and the right hand down as far as it will go. Hold your breath for about 15 seconds, then exhale and bring your hands back to center and move the hands in a small circle again. (See Photo #3)
- Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 above — except this time, put the right hand up in the air and the left hand behind the right leg. (See Photo #4) Stretch the right hand up as high as it will go and the left hand down as far as it will go. Hold your breath for about 15 seconds then exhale and bring your hands back to center and move the hands in a small circle again. (See Photo #1)
Alternate having the left hand up and with having the right hand up: repeat this exercise at least 5 times on both sides.
Confirm that you are doing this exercise correctly:
When doing this exercise, the hand that is down will turn red when it comes back to the center. The hand that was up in the air will be a lighter color. (See Photo #5) This is a visual confirmation that the blood is flowing and the energy is circulating throughout the body, balancing the Yin and Yang energy.
This exercise has been reported to give the following benefits:
- Lowers high blood pressure
- Reduces heart problems
- Relieves insomnia, fatigue
- Strengthens the immune system: aids in preventing the common cold
- Relieves constipation.
- Stimulates small and large intestines
- Relieves arthritis in hands, arms and shoulders
- Strengthens blood supply to the internal organs
- Helps people who have a lack of energy
Anyone can balance Yin and Yang energy in the body by practicing this simple Qi Gong exercise.
Reported in condensed form in Conscious Community, September 2015.
Sifu Rich has taught martial arts for more than twenty years. He is the owner of Temple of Kung Fu, Temple of Kung Fu, and Executive Producer and Star of the reality TV show Kung Fu Redemption. The Temple of Kung Fu offers live-in instrution, and Temple of Kung Fu offers daily classes in Qi Gong, Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Self Defense, Taoism, Meditation, and a variety of services for life extension and spiritual growth. Call 847-702-7581 to schedule a free introductory private lesson or class.
Dr. Iris Seeley has a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in Human Resource Development. She is the first women’s Shih Shui Kung (Bone Marrow Washing Kung Fu) instructor in Illinois.