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An Analysis of the Mechanism of Health Qigong·Yi Jin Jing(Ⅱ)

Balancing Yi and Yang, Harmonizing Viscera

Yin and Yang were initially two concepts in the traditional Chinese philosophy. In traditional Chinese medicine, they are mainly used to generalize the structures and functions of the human body as well as the properties and therapies of diseases. The balance between Yin and Yang is the foundation for the health of the human body, just as ancient people said “when Yin harmonious with Yang, the essence and the spirit will be stable and peaceful”. (Su Wen: Sheng Qi Tong Tian Lun). Yi Jin Jing regulates Yin and Yang mainly through motion of the spinal column. This exercise lays emphasis on the motion of the spinal column. The body-turning movements of “Plucking a Star and Exchanging a Star Cluster”, “Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails”, the waist-bending movements of “Black Dragon Displaying Its Claws”, “Bowing Down in Salutation”, and “Swinging the Tail”, and the “springing” movement of “Tiger Springing on Its Prey” are all used to mobilize and regulate the spinal column. Besides enhancing the motion-based body cultivation, this distinguished exercise can properly balance Yin and Yang. The spinal column is the “beam” of the human body which is mainly composed of vertebras, intervertebral discs, and ligaments. It is an important part of the “form” of the human body which supports the trunk and protects the internal organs. Starting from the spinal cord, the spinal nerves are distributed in the head, neck, upper limbs, chest, waist, napes, and lower limbs and serve as important nerve hubs of the human body. It is believed in traditional Chinese medicine that many channels of the human body are related to the spinal column. Let’s take the Kidney Channel of Foot Shaoyin of the 12 Channels for example. Ling Shu: Jing Mai says it “runs through the spine”. The Urinary Bladder Channel of Foot Taiyang “runs on both sides of the spine…… along the backbone”; and the Du Channel of the Eight Extra Channels “run up the spine” (Nan Jing: Er Shi Ba Nan). The Chong Channel “moves together with the Kidney Channel of Shaoyin” (Su Wen: Gu Kong Lun) and its branches also run inside the spinal column. Therefore the special spinal movements of Yi Jin Jing directly stimulate the abovementioned Yin and Yang channels and thus harmonize Yin and Yang. In addition, the spinal movements are actually movements of the entire trunk. And the movements of the trunk can not only stimulate the channels that pass by the spinal column, but also influence the channels of the spleen, stomach, liver, and gall bladder and extra channels like the Ren Channel. In other words, they are effective on all three Yin channels of foot, three Yang channels of foot, and eight extra channels. And the special movements of the upper limbs in “Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle”, “Plucking a Star and Exchanging a Star Cluster”, “Nine Ghosts Drawing Saber”, and “Tiger Springing on Its Prey” act on the three Yin channels of hand and three Yang channels of hand and thus regulate the entire channel system. This is one of the major mechanisms of the health-preserving effect of this exercise.

Hou Han Shu: Hua Tuo Zhuan says: “These movements can promote the digestion of food…” This refers to the regulating effects of Wu Qin Xi on the functions of internal organs like the spleen and stomach, but it is also the case with Yi Jin Jing. Its coordinating effect on the viscera is realized mainly through the following three approaches: The first is the direct effect of motion on the viscera. It is believed in traditional Chinese medicine that all the five Zang viscera are associated with the exterior tissues and organs of the human body. The liver governs tendons; the lung governs skin and hair; the spleen governs muscles; the heart governs blood vessels; the kidney governs bones. And Yi Jin Jing is an exercise that “changes” “Jing” (including bones, skin, muscles, and channels). Therefore it can not only exercise the “Jin” on the body surfaces but also promote the functions of the internal organs. Just as Yan Xing Zhai Yan Xing Lu says: “Motion will strengthen the body.” The second is the indirect effect through the channels. The channel system of the human body is made up of twelve regular channels and eight extra channels. The twelve regular channels are the “trunk roads” which have fixed “affiliation” relationships with the five Zang and six Fu viscera. The Qi of channels is also distributed and accumulated in the channels on the body surfaces. While explaining the functions of the twelve channels, Ling Shu: Hai Lun says: “the twelve channels belong to the viscera inside the body and connect the limbs and joints.” This is exactly why the exercising effect of Yi Jin Jing on the “Jin” can be “transmitted” to the viscera by way of the channels and thus exercises and harmonizes the viscera. The third is the special effect of pronunciation and respiration on the viscera. In “Three Plates Falling on the Floor” of Yi Jin Jing, the practicer is required to articulate “Hai” while stooping the body and pressing down the palms. This is a major innovation by the creators of the exercise. In traditional Qigong, the pronunciation-assisted respiration is called pronunciation respiration. Liu Zi Jue is a typical exercise based on pronunciation respiration, which can also be seen in some martial Qigong exercises. But it is quite rare in traditional Yi Jin Jing. However, this reference is reasonable. It is believed in traditional Qigong theories that besides “exhaling the old and inhaling the new”, respiration can also exercise the viscera. This is why Han Shu: Wang Ji Zhuan says “exhaling the old and inhaling the new to exercise the viscera”. And pronunciation of words will enhance this exercising effect of respiration.

(By Huang Jian)

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