Friday, 15 June 2012

The 8 Pieces of Silk - #1


he 8 Pieces of Silk (or 8 Pieces of Brocade) is one of the most widespread forms of Chi Kung practised in the world today. Mention of it first arose during the Song Dynasty (960 – 1270). I like it, in particular because it gives the body a very deep, relaxed stretch while touching on some of the most basic techniques of breathing and internal power.

It also has a beautifully aesthetic line about it, a pleasure to the eye both as a form of personal practise and as something to be viewed and enjoyed.

The 8 Pieces of Silk can be learned in progressive stages. You can start with the basic stretch positions. Once you’re comfortable with these, you can add the breathing. Finally, you can explore the various methods of moving internal energy around the body.

I’d like to present this routine across the span of several posts, beginning today with the first few movements. I’ll try for a combination of detail and simplicity. The idea is to give you enough information to work with – and to build upon.

Let’s start –

Raise the hands slowly out in front

1.  Stand with your feet comfortably together.  Allow your arms to hang comfortably by your sides. Relax. Inhale slowly and exhale very slowly. Calm the mind.

2.  Raise your hands very slowly out in front of you until they draw level with your shoulders. The arms are positioned in line with the shoulders. The palms face up. Breathing – inhale through the nose as you raise your arms.

Close your hands into relaxed fists

3.  Slowly clench your hands into fists. The fists should be relaxed to allow maximum circulation. Palms are still facing up. Breathing – exhale through the mouth as you clench your fists.

Bring the fists in toward the chest

4.  Slowly bend the elbows out to the sides while bringing the fists in. The medial sides of the arms are parallel to the floor. Wrists are level with the elbows. Palms face the chest. Breathing – inhale through the nose as bring your fists toward your chest.

Slowly turn the arms over so that the fists face forward

5.  Slowly turn the arms over so that the fists face forward. The medial sides of the arm now face up. Your wrists are still level with your elbows. Breathing – exhale through the mouth as you turn your fists over.

We’ll stop here for today. The next section involves an exquisite stretch with the arms out to both sides, reminiscent of iron hand strength building exercises found in so many martial arts.

The following may be a little strange if you’ve never been exposed to internal power exercises – each physical movement in the 8 Pieces of Silk begins deep within the body.  The last part of the body to arrive at a new position is the end of the limb or the outer surface of the skin.

As far as the movement of chi is concerned, the flow of energy also begins deep within the body. The chi can then be sent into any portion of the body or extend out into the aura around the body.

Please let me know if you have any question. I’ll post the next section soon.

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