Chen’s Taichi Health Maintenance Effects (Full Contents)
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1. Strengthen the Nervous System and Improve “Stress Reaction”
The nervous system serves as the body’s communication and control centre, regulating all the bodily processes needed to maintain homeostasis (internal balanced state of equilibrium). All our activities – both voluntary and involuntary – are carried out under the control of the nervous system. Therefore, all muscle and organ activities are under the control and coordination of different aspects of the nervous system.
During exercise, clearing and focusing the mind internally can shield off external interference and help improve our ability to control the mind. Such exercises can help regulate the central nervous system’s reaction in controlled rhythms so that the stimulating and suppressing mechanisms of the brain can work in coordination. The sensory neurons can receive and interpret external stimulation with more accuracy. When the sensory and motor components of the central nervous system are working more efficiently, one’s ability to comprehend and respond will also improve.
As a result, one has much sharper conditioned reflex to verbal and written signals and this secondary messenger system tends to be more complete. It improves intellectual comprehension as well as te mastery of physical movements. People who practice Yangsheng Gong on a regular basis will see results like better energy level, clearer mind, better organization skills, higher working enthusiasm and greatly improved efficiency.
Combining mental and physical exercise helps to improve the coordination of the peripheral and central nervous systems. Functionally, the peripheral nervous system can be divided into somatic (responsible for voluntary skeletal muscle contraction) and autonomic or visceral (sub-divided into sympathetic – “fight or flight” and parasympathetic “rest and digest”). The sympathetic and parasympathetic systems act iii concert to maintain homeostasis.
When the central nervous system and the secondary messenger system are in highly excited state, other areas of the cerebral cortex are in protective or suppressed state. The result is that the brain has enough time to rest and the body recovers from fatigue quickly. For someone suffering from.25 chronic diseases, this is an ideal condition. Because the brain can rest well, the reflection of pathological site is shifted so that the feedback of the pathological site is eliminated consequently creating the condition for chronic disease to heal.
One’s emotions have direct impact on one’s health. Positive and optimistic emotions have positive impact on health however excessive emotions such as the “Seven Emotions”, (Joy, Anger, Anxiety, Pensiveness, Grief, Fear and Fright) can have negative impact on health. When the “Seven Emotions” are excessive, they are considered as internal causes for diseases. For example, excess joy can hurt the heart; excessive anger hurts the liver; anxiety hurts the spleen; grief hurts the lungs; fear hurts the kidneys and fright hurts the gallbladder. Excessive emotions can create physical conditions that allow the “Six Evils” (Wind, Cold, Summer Heat, Dampness, Dryness and Fire) to enter the body and cause diseases. That is why, In Huang Di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Medicine Classic)2, relaxation and state of no desires are greatly emphasized. The principle of Yangsheng Gong is based on this theory. The fast paced modern-city life-styles often bring nervousness, anxiety and disorder to people’s lives which negatively affect their health and work. In Yangsheng Gong, one is required to relax the mind and rid of wandering thoughts in order to reduce mental tension and pressure. Calm and relaxed mental state can definitely help eliminate internal causes for disease and consequently improve health.
2. Improve Bone, Joint, Muscle Structure and Increase Athletic Abilities
Yangsheng Gong applies the methods of spiral rotations to all motions. These types of motions provide suitable physiological workload so that bones, joints and muscles of the whole body are systematically exercised. For example, bone density and bone thickness can be increased after a period of regular Yangsheng Gong exercises. Other positive results include enlarged bone process protruding for muscle attachment and more orderly alignment of trabecular patterns for better structural strength. These changes are beneficial for bone metabolism and improve bone structure. With the improvements in bone structure, bones are stronger and more resistant to twisting, pressure and bending.
The spiral rotational movements in Yangsheng Gong can also improve one’s flexibility. With regular Yangsheng Gong exercises, one can expect positive results such as increased density of bone surface at the joints, thicker muscle and tendon tissues, larger tendon and bone attachment areas, higher collagen content, thicker cartilage, as well as increased unit cell nuclear count. Muscle strength is greatly increased. Consequently greater muscle strength will improve joint stability, tendon and ligament extensibility and joint motion ranges. Those who practice Yangsheng Gong on a regular basis can expect not only better flexibility but also a solid foundation for grappling and counter-grappling techniques because of improved strength and flexibility.
Repeated spiral rotational movements combined with deliberate physical relaxation and extension intentions enables the practitioner to achieve a whole body exercise much easily. The muscle tissues can be stretched much longer than doing other regular exercises. With persistent regular Yangsheng Gong exercises, the muscles are reconditioned. For example, muscle mitochondria increase, the muscle size increases, muscles fat decreases, number of connective tissues increases and the number of muscles tissues and capillaries that involve with exercises increase. Therefore, people who exercise often with Yangsheng Gong may enjoy smoother and shinier skin, better muscle tone and a higher level of fitness. People who are overly thin or obese have noticed obvious improvement in physical shape after practicing Yangsheng Gong for an extended period of time.
Combining mental and physical relaxation, these exercises can optimize the controlling process of the nervous systems and reduce energy consumption during exercises. The reduction in energy consumption allows high level adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to be stored in the muscle cells thus making muscle reaction and response occur much more quickly. One’s ability to master specified movements and the level of execution quality can also be improved.
3. Exercise the Digestive System and Improve Respiratory System Functions
The digestive system is composed of the digestive tract and the accessory organs. The digestive system is responsible for food intake, digestion, absorption and excretion. A healthy and effective digestive system is one of the important factors to one’s overall health. The slow motions of Yangsheng Gong enhance the flow of one’s vital qi though out the internal organs. Yangsheng Gong uses deep abdominal breathing patterns. Such breathing patterns increase the range of motion of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles providing extra massaging effects to the stomach and intestines. At the same time, such motions also increase the amount of digestive fluid, shorten the digestive time and improve the absorption efficiency. As a result, regular Yangsheng Gong exercises can improve one’s appetite, improve one’s digestive ability, and recover from indigestion, ulcer and other digestive system related diseases.
In Yangsheng Gong, it is required that the movements coordinate with breathing to increase lung capacity. One’s breathing gradually becomes much slower and deeper. This breathing pattern increases the lung capacity by improving the contraction and dilation of the diaphragm, increasing the distraction force in the chest, increasing the surface area where the alveolar sacs contact the walls of the capillaries. With regular exercises, pulmonary ventilation and inspiratory capacity can be greatly increased and breathing activities and body movements can be better coordinated. Therefore under the same workload, the length and efficiency of continuous work will not decrease. Yangsheng Gong can prevent and possibly heal chronic diseases as well as increase work efficiency.
4. Strengthen Cardiovascular Functions and Improve Vascular System Functions
Persistent and regular exercise doing Yangsheng Gong has positive effects on the heart and the entire cardiovascular system. It may thicken the myocardium tissues and the wall of the heart. It strengthens the heart contraction and increases both the total and stroke volumes of the heart. It may also increase the elasticity of the artery walls and enlarge the coronary artery. These positive physiological changes can improve the function of the vascular system so that nutrients from the digestive system, oxygen from the respiratory system and hormones from various internal organs can be more efficiently transported to functional organs throughout the whole body to support the metabolism processes and to stabilize the internal environment.
By practicing Yangsheng Gong for an extended period of time, one will benefit in terms of heart capacity. Such benefit is shown as slowed down resting heart rate, slower heart rate incline doing regular workout and significant heart rate incline doing high intensity or flat-out workout as well as quick recovery after workouts.
5. Activate the Internal Qi and Improve Channel Circulations
Meridian Channels are the pathways of physical blood and qi. Their functions have great influence on one’s physiological condition. When the channels are clear, the body is healthy; and when they are obstructed the body will be diseased. According to Lingshu Jingbie3, “the human body’s life depends on them and diseases are caused/healed by them. It is where all diseases start from. Therefore to understand diseases, this is where it starts; to treat diseases, this is where it ends.” Also, “it is in the channels that life and death is decided, all diseases are cured, the emptiness and solidness are balanced. Therefore, the channels must be clear without obstruction.” All Qi Gong exercises are different in terms of approaches and methods, however, all have the same goals — health, fitness and longevity. All aim to achieve the goals by strengthening and solidifying the internal qi, moving the qi through the twelve main channels and the peripheral branches, and guiding the qi through the micro and macro cosmic orbits.
The internal qi is the internal energy that supports the life of the human body. This energy has fundamental influence on a person’s heath. Though born with it, its quality and volume is greatly dependent on postnatal nourishment and cultivation. With scientific and reasonable training methods, one can accumulate and strengthen the internal qi and use it to strengthen the physical body for health and self-defense.
In Yangsheng Gong, the unique postures and movements are controlled with relaxed and calm mental activities. Through these postures and movements, the internal qi is accumulated quickly, strengthened and solidified. The internal qi is then activated to fill the twelve main channels and other peripheral branches all over the body.
Under the mental guidance, the internal qi is moved through the organs. When the qi moves through the heart, the fire in the heart will not be overly fanned and the water in the kidneys will not be overly chilled. When the qi moves through the lungs, the air in the lungs can rise and descend freely. When the air in the lungs is absorbed by the kidneys and lowered into dantian, one can carry out quite a workout load without panting. When the qi moves through the liver, the fire in the liver is contained so that the mind is clear and the eyes are clear. When the qi moves through the spleen, the qi transportation and evaporation is greatly improved; the postnatal life-source is enhanced so that the skin is healthy, smooth and shiny. When the qi moves through the meridian channels, the nourishing and protecting mechanisms are strong and qi is charged to all ends of the body including the skin and hair. The sensory system is alert. As most wellness experts say: “Use my own mind to guide my own qi that nourishes my own body and heals my own diseases. What illness cannot be cured?”
(Abstract from book “Chen’s Taichi for Health & Wellness – by Chen Zhenglei”, Translator & Editor in Chief: Jack Yan)
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Chen’s Taichi Key Points and Specific Requirements
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1. Relax the Body and Calm the Mind, Follow the Law of Nature
Relax – relax the whole physical body. Not only the muscles need to be relaxed, the bone structure, the internal organs, the skin and even the hair must all relax. The whole body should relax without any tension. Calm and focus the mind. Get rid of all wandering thoughts and focus on the exercises. In order to benefit from the positive results, one must let go of worries over daily chores and focus only on what is being done. Law of Nature — means to do the exercises without holding the breath, applying stiff strength and to coordinate the movements and breathing patterns naturally.
2. Connect the Mind and the Qi, Coordinate the Body and the Spirit
Use the mind to guide the qi. Coordinate the movements with breathing. The mind starts; the qi follows and the strength reaches. The normal rules of movements and breathing coordination are: inhale when closing and exhale when opening; inhale when leading in and exhale when releasing out; inhale when rising and exhale when descending; inhale when accumulating the power and exhale when releasing the power, etc. In general, keep it natural. Do not purposely prolong the breathing to accommodate the movements so that breathing is obstructed and the spirit becomes dumb.
3. Stay Upright and Centered, Divide Emptiness and Solidness Clearly
Whether doing moving or still posture exercises, the body must stay upright and centered without leaning or tilting. Do not sway front and back or left to right. Specifically, the head should be kept naturally straight with the top of the head pushing upward slightly. Relax the shoulders and lower the elbows. Tuck in the chest and sink the waist. When shifting or turning the body, the head, the torso and the limbs must be coordinated. Keep the eye sight horizontally. The baihui5 and changqiang6 points coordinate to each other.
During exercise, carefully feel the shifting of the center of the body, separate the yin and yang as well as the emptiness and solidness. Carefully feel if the strength can be moved smoothly without obstruction and if the movements are connected freely. Adjust the body immediately when it is out of position. Follow the principle that when a movement starts, the whole body moves simultaneously. Pay attention to physical coordination as a whole. The hand, eye, body and footwork should all be coordinated. The essence, qi, spirit and strength should all be applied with coordination. Think of the requirements and apply them in the exercises.
4. Duration of Exercise and Workload
At the beginning, the duration of exercise should start from around twenty minutes and increase to one hour gradually. The workload must be controlled according to the physical condition of the practitioner. The general rule is to feel slightly worked out physically but still feel comfortable mentally. Those who are physically weak can do exercises that are mainly sitting or standing. Keep the postures high and only lower the postures as the body strengthens since lower postures are more physically strenuous. Those who are in good physical condition can do more moving exercises with low postures.Key points: Those who suffer from diseases should not exercise to exhaustion. As soon as the physical body is tired, take a break. Allow the body to recuperate before continuing to prevent worsening the illness.
(Abstract from book “Chen’s Taichi for Health & Wellness – by Chen Zhenglei”, Translator & Editor in Chief: Jack Yan)
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Chen’s Taichi Practitioner Must-Knows
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To learn Taichi, you must not be arrogant. Arrogance is offensive and rude. Not only must you refrain from showing off your techniques; you must refrain from arrogant expressions and behaviors. Carry yourself with traits of a scholar. Arrogance eventually leads to the loss of real personal quality.
To learn Taichi, you must not be proud. Pride leads to damage. As the common expression goes: “Above the sky, here is higher sky.” Be modest and others will be willing to teach you. One can only achieve true greatness when others are willing to share their achievements with you.
To learn Taichi, you must carefully study and understand every move. Without careful study, one will not understand the true meaning of the moves. Special attention must be given to the connecting moves; otherwise, you will lose the connection from the source and lose the smooth transition to the next move. As a result, each move becomes an individual move itself without internal connection from the beginning to the end. Without the internal connection from the beginning to the end, you will never connect to your vital energy.
To learn Taichi, you must learn how to read first. When you understand what’s in the book, it is easier to practice.
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Chen’s Taichi Rules and Code of Ethics
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|Twelve Core Tenets||门尊十二严|
10. Trust Worthiness
|1. 端 – 举止端正庄重
2. 公 – 公正
3. 仁 – 仁慈、善良
4. 浩 – 浩然之气、胸怀宽广
5. 忠 – 忠诚老实
6. 诚 – 诚心诚意
7. 敬 – 恭敬尊重
8. 正 – 正直正派
9. 义 – 正义
10.勇 – 见义勇为
11.信 – 守信、信义
12.德 – 品德、道德
|Twenty “Do Nots”||规守二十备|
|1. Do not bully others with power.
2. Do not fear the powerful and bully the weak.
3. Do not fear danger and do help others in danger.
4. Do not engage in unethical actions.
5. Do not take advantage of women.
6. Do not boast.
7. Do not perform for profit in the streets.
8. Do not organize or join gangs.
9. Do not waste or wonder around.
10. Do not self gloat.
11. Do not compete with rascals.
12. Do not argue with the ignorant.
13. Do not be snobby.
14. Do not take unjustified wealth.
15. Do not indulge in alcohol or sex.
16. Do not dishonour personal or public debt.
17. Do not profit by sacrificing public interest.
18. Do not long for high official ranking and incentives.
19. Do not betray your country.
20. Do not relinquish your practice.
|Twelve Forbidden Behaviours||戒章十二禁|
|1. Evil Behaviour
2. Unethical Behaviour
3. Rascal Behaviour
4. Cunning Behaviour
5. Over Indulging Behaviour
6. Cheating Behaviour
7. Arrogant Behaviour
8. Despicable Behaviour
9. Deceiving Behaviour
10. Dishonest Behaviour
11. Gloating Behaviour
12. Vicious Behaviour
|1. 邪 – 不正当的事(歪风邪气)
2. 反 – 坏、恶(指坏人坏事、为非作歹)
3. 刁 – 无赖
4. 猾 – 狡猾
5. 奢 – 过分奢侈、挥霍
6. 诈 – 欺诈、诓骗
7. 疯 – 言行狂妄
8. 卑 – 下贱、品质低劣
9. 奸 – 奸诈、虚伪、背叛、下流
10.谎 – 不老实
11.狂 – 极端任性、狂妄、妄自尊大
12.恶 – 恶毒、凶狠、极坏行为
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