Ba Duan Jin Qi Gong (Eight Section Brocade)

Aug 20, 2018

Ba Duan Jin has a written history of over 800 years. During this period of time, many modifications and innovations have been added to the original form. Although the variations are numerous, they can be broadly categorised into themes related to the seated and to the standing postures, with the latter further sub-divided into the ‘Northern’ and the ‘Southern’ styles.
 

History

Founder of Ba Duan Jin

The Northern style claims its legendary founder to be YueFei, who was a famous general in the Song Dynasty (960-1279AD). It is considered to be more difficult to perform than the Southern style.
 
An article illustrates one such Northern version, which was first published in China in 1917 by LianPu and Jiang Tie Ya, who were both students of the Qing Hua University at the time. Their booklet stated that this particular version of ”Ba Duan Jin” was popular in a certain part of Henan Province and that an old man from the town of Zheng-Zhou (in Henan) taught these exercises to Lian who passed it on to Jiang. His teacher boasted to Lian, “I am over 80 years old. All my family members, irrespective of whether they are male or female, young or old, all practised Ba Duan Jin. We have had no need for any medication in the past 40 years!”
 
Ready Position
  • Stand upright, feet together, arms alongside the body.
  • Relax, breath naturally, focus your mind on Dantian. Look forward.
  • When you feel relaxed and peaceful, take a step to the left and keep relaxing the body continuously.
  • Slowly open the arms, palms facing backward. Hold a ball in front of the lower abdomen.
Key Points and Breathing Coordination:
  • Relax, breath naturally. Explain how to relax from the top of body to toes.
  • Focus your mind on Dantian. Explain where Dantian is and how important it is to focus on Dantian.
  • Inhale when hands are open; exhale when hands return.
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So nice to have a chance to share my Ba Duan Jin Qi Gong practice experience with 24 colleague acupuncturists last Sunday. Thanks for China Books Sydney’s great job in organising this event. Here is the notes related to my Qi Gong workshop for your reference.
 
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Section 1:

 Hold up Heaven to Regulate the Triple Warmers 

  • Raise both hands above the head with the palms facing upward, as if holding up heaven.
  • Then gently perform curve movements with both hands and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat it six times.
  • This section is said to benefit the Triple Warmers, which is the passage for water and nutrients throughout the body.
 
Key Points and Breathing Coordination:
  • Stretch completely when arms are held upwards , hold your breath for 2 seconds when fully stretched
  • You can also raise your heels when you raise your hands to hold up the heaven.
  • Hands go back to the neutral position with a relaxed and peaceful mind when hands return.
  • Inhale when hands raise, hold breath when body is fully stretched, exhale when hands return.
 

Section 2:

 Draw the Bow to Shoot the Eagle 

  • Separate the legs and bend the knees, with arms crossed in front of the chest (left arm outside).
  • Left hand makes a pistol shape and points to the left, right hand forms a hook to pull as if drawing a bow;
  • Move the right hand to right side and separate the hands.
  • Move both hands back to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the right side.
  • Repeat it three times on each side.
  • This section benefits the lungs and heart by expanding the chest. It can also help the neck, back and shoulders.
Key Points and Breathing Coordination:
  • Stretch completely when drawing the bow. Explain the shape of the hands and Horse step.
  • Hands go back to the neutral position with a relaxed and peaceful mind.
  • Keep the body upright when arms are moving.
  • Inhale when crossing the hands, exhale when drawing the bow, inhale when opening the hands, exhale when returning the hands.
 

Section 3:

 Separate Heaven and Earth to Harmonize the Spleen and Stomach 

  • Standing upright, let the palms face up. Raise the left hand with the palm facing upward; the right hand moves downward with the palm facing down.
  • Move both hands back to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the right side.
  • Repeat it three times on each side.
  • It contributes to the ascending of spleen-qi and the descending of stomach-qi, thus promoting the digestive functions.
Key Points and Breathing Coordination:
  • Explain that the spleen Qi needs to ascend and the Stomach Qi needs to descend as a normal function.
  • Stretch completely when hands are pushing up and down.
  • Go back to the neutral position with a relaxed and peaceful mind when hands return.
  • Inhale when hands are pushing up and down, exhale when hands return to starting position.
 

Section 4:

Wise Owl Gazes Backwards to Heal Diseases and Injuries
  • Slowly turn the head to the left side as far as possible, at the same time, rotate arms widely and stretch them.
  • Hands return to starting position.
  • Repeat on the right side.
  • Repeat three times on each side.
  • This section is said to benefit those with various kinds of diseases and injuries by enriching the essence and blood, calming the mind and promoting organ function.
Key Points and Breathing Coordination:
  • Explain “Wu Lao Qi Shang”.
  • Stretch completely when eyes gaze backwards.
  • Go back to the neutral position with a relaxed and peaceful mind when hands return.
  • Keep the body upright and don’t turn when the arms are moving.
  • Inhale when rotating and gazing backwards, exhale when returning.
 

Section 5:

Rotate the Head and Sway the Buttocks to Expel the Heart Fire 

  • Taking a horse step, raise hands up, and then drop palms down slowly until they’re resting on thighs.
  • Look down and lean the upper body forward. Swing the head from right to left, then back to the middle. At the same time, swing the buttocks from left to right and then back to the middle.
  • The upper part of the body lowers down slowly.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Repeat three times on each side.
  • Return to the neutral position.
  • Swaying the head can send down heart-fire while swinging the buttocks can help the kidney-water ascend to meet the heart-fire.
Key Points and Breathing Coordination:
  • Explain the heart fire and Kidney water.
  • Move slowly, evenly and gradually with a smooth rotation.
  • Inhale when hands are rising up, exhale when palms are dropping down. Inhale when leaning the upper body forward; exhale when swinging the head from right to the left. Inhale when swinging the head back to the middle; exhale when the upper part of the body lowers down in the middle line.
 

Section 6:

Hands Hold the Feet to Strengthen the Kidneys and the Back
  • Raise both hands above the head.
  • Both hands press down to chest level.
  • Rotate hands and thread fingers behind your back. Bend forward while the hands are moving down from the back to the toes.
  • Raise hands above the head again when the back is straightened.
  • Repeat six times.
  • Return to the neutral position.
  • This section can reinforce the kidneys and strengthen the waist and the knees.
Key Points and Breathing Coordination:
  • Explain the relationship between the Kidney and the Back.
  • Stretch completely when arms are raised.
  • Go back to the neutral position with a relaxed and peaceful mind when hands return.
  • Keep the knees straight when back is bending.
  • Inhale when raising the hands up; exhale when dropping the hands down to chest level. Inhale when rotating the hands and threading them to the back, exhale when moving the hands from the back to the toes.
 

Section 7:

Glare and Punch to Help the Liver Qi Flow Smoothly
  • Taking a horse step, pull both hands in and form fists next to the waist.
  • Punch with the left fist with the eye of the fist facing up.
  • Rotate the left hand and pull it into the waist.
  • Punch the right fist with the eye of the fist facing up.
  • Repeat three times on each side.
  • The left foot takes a step to join feet together. Stand upright, with arms alongside the body.
  • This does not only help increase general vitality, but also helps to release the anger and helps the Liver Qi flow smoothly.
Key Points and Breathing Coordination:
  • Explain the relationship between the Liver, anger and Qi stagnation.
  • Do not lean forward while punching.
  • Inhale when pulling the hand in; exhale when punching with a fist.
 

Section 8:

Bouncing on the Toes to Smooth the Qi Flow
  • Raise the heel.
  • Land with a gentle rocking motion.
  • Repeat six times.
  • The gentle shaking vibrations of this section are meant to smooth and settle the Qi flow after doing the previous seven sections.
Key Points and Breathing Coordination:
  • Land the heel with a gentle rocking motion instead of a hard landing.
  • Inhale when raising heels, exhale when landing heels.

 

Closing Position

  • Open the arms, palms facing backward.
  • Perform a curve movement until hands are resting on the lower abdomen. Left palm over right palm for females, and right palm over left palm for males.
  • Drop the hands naturally; stand upright, with arms alongside the body.
  • Relax, breath naturally, and mind focus on Dantian. Look forward.
Key Points and Breathing Coordination:
  • Collect Qi back to Dantian. Relax, breath naturally, focus mind on Dantian.
  • Inhale when opening the palms, and exhale when returning the palms. Inhale when putting the feet together; exhale to finish, and then more natural breathing afterwards until you walk away.

 

Reverse Abdominal Breathing

  • Abdominal breathing, often called diaphragmatic breathing, is a way of breathing which focuses on the rising of the abdomen on the in breath and the sinking of the abdomen on the outbreath. It is a naturally expansive and contractive rhythmical movement.
  • This way of moving the abdomen, while breathing, naturally occurs in babies. It becomes lost in adults as our health declines and stress and anxiety start to govern our lives.
  • Suggest to use reverse abdominal breathing in Ba Duan Jin Qi Gong practice.
Science Behind Abdominal Breathing
  • The body stress hormone is controlled by autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS has two components that balance each other, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
  • The SNS turns up your nervous system. It helps us handle what we perceive to be emergencies and is in charge of the flight-or-fight response.
  • The PNS turns down the nervous system and helps us to be calm. It promotes relaxation, rest, sleep, and drowsiness by slowing our heart rate, slowing our breathing, constricts the pupils of our eyes, increases the production of saliva in our mouth, and so forth.
  • The Vagus nerve is the nerve that comes from the brain and controls the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls your relaxation response. It is a very long nerve running from the hypothalamus area of your brain, chest, diaphragm, and to your intestines. It wraps around your heart and core area . And this nervous system uses the neurotransmitter, Acetylcholine. When the Vagus Nerve is stimulated,(ex. Deep slow breathing by inflating your diaphragm) your parasympathetic nervous system is activated. Therefore, it triggers the relaxation response in our body.
  • What is not known is the Acetylcholine is responsible for many important functions which are not wildly known:          
  • Acetylcholine is responsible for learning and memory *1
  • New research has found that acetylcholine is a major brake on inflammation in the body [4]. In other words, stimulating your vagus nerve sends acetylcholine throughout your body, not only relaxing you but also turning down the fires of inflammation which is related to the negative effects from stress. *2
  • Research found stems cells are directly connected to the vagus nerve. Activating the vagus nerve can stimulate stem cells to produce new cells and repair and rebuild your own organs. *3
  • Research has linked the vagus nerve to improved neurogenesis (creation of new brain or neuronal cells), and increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) . BDNF is like a fabulous super-food for your brain cells. It helps with repair of brain tissue and actual regeneration throughout the whole body. *3
  • As your Vagus system is stimulated, your muscles will relax, dropping your worries and anxieties. The oxygen supply to your body’s cells increases and this helps produce endorphins, the body’s feel-good hormones.
  • Once you turn on the parasympathetic nervous system, your cortisol levels are reduced, and your brain heals. Cortisol is also linked to obesity to several studies.
  • 1. Sloan, R. P., et al. 2007. RR interval variability is inversely related to inflammatory markers: The CARDIA study. Mol Med 13 (3-4):178-84
  • 2. Pavlov, V.A., and K.J. Tracey. 2005. The cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway. Brain BehavImmun 19 (6):493-99.
  • 3. Theise, N.D., and R. Harris. 2006. Postmodern biology:(adult) (stem) cells are plastic, stochastic, complex, and uncertain. HandbExpPharmacol (174):389-408.
 
Some Other Related Studies
 
A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Baduanjin Qigong for Health Benefits: Randomized Controlled Trials
  • Objective. To investigate the effects of practicing Baduanjin Qigong on different health outcomes. Methods. Six electronic databases were used for literature search through entering the following key words: Baduanjin Qigong, quality of life, sleep quality, and health-related outcomes. Results. Nineteen randomized controlled trials were used for meta-analysis. The aggregated results from this systematic review have shown significant benefits in favour of Baduanjin Qigong on quality of life. The aggregated results of meta-analyses examining the effect of Baduanjin Qigong on leg power, cardiopulmonary endurance, and pulmonary function remain unclear because of a small number of studies.
  • Conclusions. The aggregated results from this systematic review show that Baduanjin Qigong practice is beneficial for quality of life, sleep quality, balance, handgrip strength, trunk flexibility, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and resting heart rate. Further studies are necessary to confirm the effects of Baduanjin Qigong on leg power, cardiopulmonary endurance, and pulmonary function (e.g., vital capacity), while considering a long-term follow-up.
 
Case-control study on regular Ba Duan Jin practice for patients with chronic neck pain
  • Purpose: To observe the long-term effects of regular Ba Duan Jin exercises for patients with chronic neck pain.
  • Methods: Participants with chronic neck pain were instructed to perform ≥30 min/d of Ba Duan Jin exercises (n = 36) or assigned to a control group (n = 36) for six months. Data from a visual analogue scale, Northwick Park Neck Pain Questionnaire, and the 36-item Short-form Health Survey (SF-36) were collected before, and three and six months after intervention began.
  • Results: Participants undergoing Ba Duan Jin exercises achieved significantly greater improvement than the controls in visual analogue scale, Northwick Park Neck Pain Questionnaire and SF-36 health transition scores (all p < 0.05). However, no significant differences were observed in SF-36 physical or mental component summaries.
  • Conclusion: Regular Ba Duan Jin practice reduces suffering and pain, and increases health satisfaction in individuals with chronic neck pain.
Qualitative Evaluation of Baduanjin (Traditional Chinese Qigong) on Health Promotion among an Elderly Community Population at Risk for Ischemic Stroke
  • The objective of this study was to qualitatively evaluate the perceived benefit of regular Baduanjin qigong in community elders. Methods: A total of 20 participants who had completed the 12-week Baduanjin qigong training were interviewed regarding their perceived effect on physical and psychological health and whether Baduanjin qigong was suitable for the elderly.
  • Results: Almost all participants agreed that Baduanjin qigong could promote their multisystem or organ functions (e.g., digestive and circulatory systems), increase their immunity, make their bodies relax, and improve their mood and confidence. Most of the participants also agreed that Baduanjin qigong was appropriate for elderly individuals. Few individuals felt bored because of an hour Baduanjin training each day. Conclusions. The findings suggest that regular Baduanjin qigong may be potentially helpful to promote the overall physical and psychological health of elderly community populations and may be useful and feasible as a body-mind exercise in the health promotion in the elderly community populations.
 
Baduanjin Mind-Body Intervention Improves the Executive Control Function
  • This study aims at comparing the effects of the Baduanjin mind-body (BMB) intervention with a conventional relaxation training program on enhancing the executive function. The study also attempts to explore the neural substrates underlying the cognitive effect of BMB intervention using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) technique. Forty-two healthy college students were randomly allocated into either the Baduanjin intervention group or relaxation training (control) group. Training lasted for 8 weeks (90 min/day, 5 days/week). Each participant was administered the shortened Profile of Mood States to evaluate their mood status and the flanker task to evaluate executive function before and after training. While performing the flanker task, the NIRS data were collected from each participant.
  • After training, individuals who have participated in BMB exercise showed a significant reduction in depressive mood compared with the same measure before the intervention. However, participants in the control group showed no such reduction. The before vs. after measurement difference in the flanker task incongruent trails was significant only for the Baduanjin intervention group. Interestingly, an increase in oxygenated hemoglobin in the left prefrontal cortex was observed during the Incongruent Trails test only after the BMB exercise intervention. These findings implicate that Baduanjin is an effective and easy-to-administering mind-body exercise for improving executive function and perhaps brain self-regulation in a young and healthy population.
 
Intervention Effect of Baduanjin Exercise on the Fatigue State in People with Fatigue-Predominant Subhealth: A Cohort Study
  • Objectives: To observe the effect of a Baduanjin exercise intervention on fatigue in people with fatigue-predominant subhealth (FPSH).
  • Participants: A total of 131 participants were included in this cohort study. Those who met the inclusion criteria were grouped into the Baduanjin cohort (n=64) or the control cohort (n=67).
  • Intervention: The Baduanjin cohort exercised for 30 minutes twice a day for 6 weeks; the control cohort received no treatments. The study period was 18 weeks.
  • Outcome measures: The fatigue states of all participants were evaluated by using the Fatigue Self-Assessment Scale (FSAS) at baseline, the fourth and sixth weeks of treatment, and during post-treatment follow-ups at the end of the 12th and 18th weeks.
  • Results: The scores for the six factors on the FSAS at baseline did not significantly differ between the two groups. In the Baduanjin cohort, the total score on the FSAS (TSF) and scores for physical fatigue (PF), mental fatigue (MF), consequence of fatigue (CF), and response of fatigue to sleep and rest (RFSAR) were significantly decreased at the end of the sixth week. These patients also had significantly decreased scores for TSF, PF, MF, and CF at baseline, at the end of the fourth and sixth weeks of the intervention, and during post-treatment follow-ups at the end of the 12th and 18th weeks. No adverse effects of treatment were reported.
  • Conclusions: This study suggests that Baduanjin exercise has an effect on relieving fatigue in patients with FPSH.
 
Eight Brocades (Ba Duan Jin) for Treating Patients With Fibromyalgia
  • Brief Summary: In this randomized, usual therapy-controlled study, 62 patients with fibromyalgi (FM) were recruited with a ratio of 1:1. Trained and guided by Eight Brocades (EB) certified physicians, participant practiced EB one hour, twice a week for 12 weeks. Evaluation will be based on standard scales of pain, FM symptoms severity, degree of fatigue, depression, sleep quality and quality of life.
 
Baduanjin Exercise for Insomnia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
  • Background: Baduanjin exercise is thought to improve sleep quality and relieve insomnia. This study therefore aimed to assess the effects of Baduanjin on the management of insomnia. Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted using PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, WANFANG, the Chinese Scientific Journal Database (VIP), Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), Chinese Biomedical and Medical Database (CBM), and the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry to identify all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and prospective controlled trials on the efficacy of Baduanjin for insomnia. Study quality was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias assessment tool.
  • Results: Fourteen trials were identified. Baduanjin significantly reduced scores on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI; SMD = −3.78, 95% CI: −5.09 to −2.47, p < 0.00001) and showed significant positive effects on each component of the PSQI, including subjective sleep quality (SMD = −2.81, 95% CI: −3.99 to −1.64, p < 0.00001), sleep latency (SMD = −2.99, 95% CI: −3.98 to −1.99, p < 0.00001), sleep duration (SMD = −2.47, 95% CI: −3.87 to −1.07, p = 0.0005), sleep efficiency (SMD = −2.39, 95% CI: −3.44 to −1.35, p < 0.00001), sleep disturbance (SMD = −2.43, 95% CI: −3.42 to −1.43, p < 0.00001), and daytime dysfunction (SMD = −3.29, 95% CI: −4.50 to −2.07, p < 0.00001).
  • However, with limited evidence, the long-term use of Baduanjin exercise was not found to improve insomnia. Baduanjin users also experienced a significant elevation in the serum melatonin levels but showed no significant differences in the Self-Rating Anxiety Scale (SAS) score. Conclusion: Baduanjin significantly improved insomnia as measured by the PSQI; more well-designed trials are needed to determine the long-term effects.
Thanks

We’re at the end of our class. We hope that this workshop can help you open the door of the Eight Section Brocades treasure house. Please keep learning and exploring so that you can get more benefits from your future practice.