Liu Zi Jue is a set of Qigong exercises for health and fitness. During the exercise breath work, pronunciation and movement are combined. The following provides beginners and advanced practitioners with tips for perfecting the exercise.
Adjusting the mouth forms and feeling the air flow
Mouth forms should be done correctly with particular attention given to pronunciation and air flow. Beginners should find the right mouth form and then exhale with gently making the sound.
Combining the mind with breathing and movements
During practice the mind should be relaxed and in tune with the movements and the accompanying prolonged breathing and pronunciation. Excessive effort in the mind and body should be avoided. Focus should be on the breath work in a way that it is combined with physical movements that assists and compliment and enhance the practice.
It helps to relax the body and calm the mind, and dredge such meridians as Renmai (or conception vessel extending along the anterior midline of the body) to improve the circulation of the blood and vital energy.
Breathing with slight control
Liu Zi Jue should be done naturally using regress breathing.
Regress breathing occurs when inhalation is done through the nose and the chest is expanded while pulling in the abdomen. On the out breath this should be reversed through the mouth, increasing upward and downward movements diaphragm. This process both massages the organs and improves the circulation of blood and vital energy. Excessive efforts should be avoided.
Coordinating breathing with slow, realised and gentle movements
During practice even, prolonged and relaxed breathing and pronunciation will achieve the best results.
Step by step for consistency
Find a quiet place to practice in peace, be consistent in your practice. An environment that relaxes and allows the mind to be at peace is essential as is confidence in the exercises health benefits.
This article is based on studies and guidance compiled by the Chinese Health Qigong Association.
Liu Zi Jue is a traditional Chinese health practice. Liu Zi Jue or Six Healing Sounds is an exercise that regulates and controls the rise and fall of Qi inside the body and related in halation and exhalation through different mouth forms.
The six healing sounds are “XU, HE, HU,SI, CHUI and XI” and their aim is the strengthening of the liver, heart, spleen, lungs, kidneys and sanjiao (the three portions of the body cavities housing the internal organs). The exercises are designed to be completed slowly, gently, with extended and graceful movements.
Practitioners of these exercises report not only that they have experienced a general improvement in their quality of life but also that they have experienced an improvement in their social relationships. With decreased family frictions ranking among the top benefits of this practice. This is likely due to the calmness brought about by the gentile breathing movements. Other medical tests have shown positive improvements and curing of hypertension, hyperlipidemia and high blood sugar.
This article is based on the work of the Chinese Health Qigong Association.
Origins and Development of Liu Zi Jue
The term Liu Zi Jue first appears in ‘Caring for the Health of the Mind and Prolonging the Life Span’, – Tao Hongjing of the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589).
According to Tao Hongjing a leading figure from the Maoshan School of Taoism. “One has only one way for inhalation, but six for exhalation – CHUI, HU, XI, HE, XU and SI. CHUI gets rid of heat; HU sweeps away wind; XI eliminates worries; HE promotes the circulation of energy; XU drives away cold; and SI reduces stress. Those with heart disease should practice CHUI and HU, to drive away cold and heat. Those with lung disease should practice XU, to relieve swelling. Those who have spleen trouble should practice XI, to eliminate stress. As for those who suffer from liver disease, HE will help to cure it.”
Zou Pu’an of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) in his book ‘The Supreme Knack for Health Preservations’ recommends.
“Don’t listen to anything when pronouncing the sounds. Close your mouth, lower your head after finishing, breath in fresh air from the universe slowly through the nose. Don’t listen to anything when inhaling.”
In terms of the practice it was not until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) that body movements where introduced.
“Open the eyes wide when doing the XU Exercise for the liver. Raise the arms when doing the SI Exercise for the lungs. Stick head up and cross the hands when doing the HE Exercise for the heart. Keep the knees level when doing the CHUI Exercise for the kidneys. Thrust and round the lips when doing the HU Exercise for the spleen, and lie down when doing the XI Exercise to drive heat from Sanjiao”
There are a number of exercises which use elements of Liu Zi Jue. These include Yi Jin Jing (Tendon-Muscle Strengthening Exercises), Emei Zhuang (Emei Stake Exercises), Xing Yi Quan (12-Animal Shadow Boxing), Bagua Zhang (Eight-Diagram Palm), and Da Yan Gong (Wild Goose Exercises). For these exercises the sounds are used to aid these dynamic physical exercises.
The theoretical basis of the Liu Zi Jue is Traditional Chinese Medicine‘s (TCM) Five Elements (metal, wood, water, fire and earth), and Five Solid Viscera (heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys).
Mouth forms required for pronunciation
Liu Zi Jue features six special mouth forms and methods of pronunciation to regulate and control the rise and fall of qi in the body and related to inhalation and exhalation.
Combining breathing and movements with cultivation of energy
Through combined use of breath work, pronunciation, and physical movement practitioners can benefit from “proper internal circulation of energy vital for the health, and those who know the ways to apply strength and the ways to relax can expect a long life’ – Ge Hong of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420).
Dynamics infused in calmness and flowing grace
During practice pronunciation should be even and extended and the movements relaxed and slow. Regulated breathing should be even during the postures cultivating a calm and dynamic state.
Simple, reliable and effective
The six sounds are pronounced during exhalations and accompany nice movements as well as the preparatory and concluding postures. The exercise is easy to learn and practice making it practical.
Integration of mind and body with a relaxed spirit
Yi Jin Jing is a qigong set and like most other qigong sets it should be practiced with a relaxed spirit and peaceful mind. The mind should thus follow the movements and should be coordinated with the circulation of qi with the body’s movements. Meanwhile concentration is required to accompany individual movements.
The mind should concentrate on the palms during the Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 3 routine
The mind should be focused on the Mingmen point at the back of the waist while fixing the eyes on the upper palm during the routine 4 of Plucking a Star and Exchanging a Star Cluster.
The mind should be focused on the palms during the Black Dragon Displaying Its Claws routine.
Other movements require imagination, not consciousness to accompany them. Among them are:
Three Plates Falling on the Floor
Displaying Paw Style Palms like a White Crane Spreading Its Wings
Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails
Bowing Down in Salutation
Breathing throughout the exercise should be relaxed and easy. This is particularly important when:
lifting the hands during the Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 3 routine
when expanding the arms and chest during the Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails routine,
and when expanding the arms and chest and relaxing the shoulders during the Nine Ghosts Drawing Swords routine.
This is because the chest cavity expands and contracts during these movements, and should be allowed to do so freely and to the full.
Free and unrestrained inhalation is particularly required when:
lifting the hands during the Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 3 routine,
and when expanding the arms and chest during the Nine Ghosts Drawing the Swords routine,
while natural exhalation is required when relaxing the shoulders in this routine,
when withdrawing the arms in Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails routine,
and when pushing out the palms in Displaying Paw-style Palms like a White Crane Spreading Its Wings routine
The reason for this is because the chest cavity expands and contracts during these movements, and should be allowed to do so freely and to the full.
Softness in toughness with the interplay of the substantial and insubstantial
“The softness and toughness of the exercise movements interchange throughout the practice. When stretched or relaxed, they display a dialectical relationship of a unity of opposites, in the same way as the reactions of Yin and Yang, the two opposing and interactive aspects of the body according to traditional Chinese medicine. Various movements require the practitioners to relax for a while after strength is applied, and suitable force is required after softness or relaxation. In this way, the movements will not be stiff and restrained or slack and fatigued.” – Chinese Health Qigong Association
Movements should be appropriately firm and gentile instead of going to extremes. Whether with too much force or with too much slackness.
Flexibility in performance and articulation of “HAI”
The range of movements and extension of postures in Yi Jin Jing are adaptable for all ages working from easier to more difficult.
When squatting and pressing the hands down during the Three Plates Falling on the Floor routine, the sound “HAI” is made. By doing this the practitioner helps move the breath and vital energy to the Dantian. It also has the advantage of avoiding restraint of the lower limbs caused by the squatting motion and upward flow of air back to the head. It also helps to strengthen the Dantian and the kidneys. The sound should be produced from the throat and concentrated at the Yinjiao point of the upper gum.
Full video teaching the Yi Jin Jing from the Chinese Health Qigong Association.
This article has been based on the information provided from the Chinese Health Qigong Association. If you would like to learn Yi Jin Jing there are a number of special qigong retreats where this is possible.
Yi Jin Jing is an exercise from ancient China. The features of this classical traditional Chinese health practice include extended, soft and even movements that flex the spine invigorate the limbs and internal organs. As an exercise it should be performed in a way that integrates the mind, body and spirit, during the practice practitioners must remain relaxed. If you would like to learn Yi Jin Jing there are a number of special qigong retreats where this is possible.
This article details guidance from the Chinese Health Qigong Association on how to best perform the exercise.
According to some historians the Yi Jin Jing has its origins in primitive shamanistic rituals. Prototypes of these basic movements where found in a 2000 year old text called Illustration of Qi Conduction. Others however, credit Bodhidharma the Indian Buddhist monk and originator of Shaolin Kung Fu with the creation of the Yi Jin Jing. Whether this is true or not it is undisputed that the monks of the Shaolin Temple played a significant role in the evolution of the Yi Jin Jing exercises.
“The earliest account of the modern 12 movement exercises is included in the Illustrations of Internal Exercise compiled by Pan Wei in 1858 in the Qing Dynasty. As traditional Yi Jin Jing relies heavily on traditional Chinese medicine theory of the Five Elements – metal, wood, water, fire and earth – different schools of the exercise have sprung up emphasising this aspect in many works.” – Chinese Qigong Association.
Smooth and extended movements to stretch the bones and tendons
A full range of motion is required related to the bones and joints. Bones are flexed and muscle groups along with tendons and ligaments are stretched. The result leads to improved blood circulation and nutrition supersession in the soft tissues. Thus enhancing mobility and strength in all directions.
Soft and even movements for coordinated grace
The modern version of the Yi Jin Jing links the 12 movements making the exercise both easier to understand as well as graceful. Limbs are flexed in curved natural range with the joints axis. When strength is required it is applied gradually combined with a tenderness of movement.
Focus on spine turning and flexing
The Yi Jin Jing movements focus on the spines, vertebrae, ligaments and the spinal cord through twisting and stretching movements. The movements must be done with a relaxed body and mind in order to gain the most health benefits. These benefits include improved fitness, prevention of disease, longevity and improved intellect.
A relaxed state of mind better eliminates psychological and physiological stresses. A relaxed body better tones muscles joints and organs. Calmness without distraction is the key. The correct mood and environment play a big part in effective practice.
Be Accurate but Flexible
Follow the set practice, the body positions and stances. Using a mirror will be very helpful in the beginning to ensure the directions and angles of the movements are adhered too.
Combine Practice and Conservation
The rigor of the postures and movements, and the application of strength used should be adjusted in accordance with the physical conditions of the practitioner so correct performance is achieved gradually. This will also apply to the adjustment of the breath. Maintaining balance in practice is the key. Balance of mind, body and spirit.
Beginners should take it step by step, adjusting practice gradually. Begin with natural breathing and work gradually up to deep breathing through constant and consistent practice.
This article has been based on the detailed works provided by the Chinese Health Qigong Association. Step by step descriptions of the routines can be ordered for free. The only cost will be in the ordering and delivery. Each book ordered includes a DVD allowing proper practice in real time.
Qigong is an essential component of Traditional Chinese Medicine and a powerful system of healing. It is the art and science of using breathing techniques, gentle movements, and meditation to cleanse, strengthen, and circulate the life energy (qi). Qigong practice leads to better health and vitality and a tranquil state of mind. Qigong can also be called nei gong (inner work) and dao yin (guiding energy). The documented history of this health and longevity art qigong goes back approximately 2,500 years. However Chinese archaeologists and historians have found references to qigong-like techniques at least five thousand years old.
Qigong is an essential component of Traditional Chinese Medicine and a powerful system of healing.
Because qigong includes both dynamic and gentle techniques that can be practiced from standing, seated, and supine postures, it is suitable for both the young and the old. Practices can be tailored to individual needs making it an ideal aid to recovery from illness or injury. Qigong is a form of complementary medicine working well with other forms of therapy but should not substitute for necessary treatment by a physician.
The two major areas of qigong for health and healing are Healing qigong or Yi Going and external qi healing or Wai Qi Zhi Liao
Qigong for health and healing involves two major areas of application:
Healing Qigong (Yi Gong). Healing Qigong (sometimes translated “Medical Qigong”) is the preventive and self-healing aspect of Chinese medicine. We are all exposed to stress. Qigong teaches us how to control our reactions to stress so that life events do not cause such symptoms as high blood pressure, frustration, or anxiety. Healthy people practice qigong to become super-healthy. Healers use qigong to prevent “healer burn-out” and to maintain a positive presence.
External Qi Healing (Wai Qi Zhi Liao). Qigong includes a sophisticated system of health assessment and non-contact treatment called External Qi Healing (EQH). The healer learns to tap into a well of healing energy in nature and “funnel” it through his or her body. Unlike some purely intuitive systems, EQH includes exercises that increase sensitivity to energy fields and efficacy of treatment. The more you practice External Qi Healing exercises and meditations, the more effective your healing treatment. External Qi Healing techniques may be used as a stand alone form of wellness treatment or may be combined with qigong massage, acupuncture, Therapeutic Touch, osteopathy, or any other form of body-work. Because treatment is generally performed at a distance from the body, EQH does not violate psychotherapists’ professional ethics (which do not allow touching the patient) and is thus an ideal adjunct to body-centered psychotherapy.
Active Healing Qigong Exercises
In order to get the maximum health benefits from qigong self practice, moving or active qigong is believed to be more important than sitting or still meditation. This is because moving exercises increase qi circulation in specific organs and so restore their normal functions. Active Qigong is for maintaining health and longevity and curing illnesses caused by qi imbalances. To learn more about mediation and qigong residentially retreats.
If you’re mostly interested in qigong for health and longevity, then qigong exercises derived from the Bone/ Marrow Washing Classics are typical qigong sets famous for being able to bestow strong and healthy bodies on dedicated practitioners. Qigong exercises derived from the Muscle/ Tendon Changing Classics (Yi Jin Jing) however, are said not only good for health but also have the added benefit of being able to increase the power of martial arts techniques.
It is said Da Mo imparted these works to the Shaolin priests because he believed they where not strong enough for the rigorous demands of training for enlightenment.
Both these books are often attributed to Da Mo the famous Indian Buddhist priest who brought Zen or Chan Buddhism to China, however it is more likely they were written and re-written by a number of different scholars and schools of thought before and after the fabled Da Mo. Nevertheless if we follow the traditional Shaolin view it is said Da Mo imparted these works to the Shaolin priests because he believed they where not strong enough for the rigorous demands of training for enlightenment.
In truth a combination of exercises derived from the brain washing and tendon changing classic are likely to be the most beneficial depending on your purpose and existing age and health. The main four main health qigong exercises recognised and promoted by the Chinese Health Qigong Association are as follows.
Muscle-Tendon Change Classic (Yì Jīn Jīng 易筋经).
Five Animals (Wu Qin Xi 五禽戲).
Six Healing Sounds (Liu Zi Jue 六字訣).
Eight Pieces of Brocade (Ba Duan Jin 八段錦).
In 2010, the Chinese Health Qigong Association officially recognized five additional health qigong forms:
Tai Chi Yang Sheng Zhang (太极养生杖): a tai chi form from the stick tradition.
Shi Er Duan Jin (十二段锦): seated exercises to strengthen the neck, shoulders, waist, and legs.
Daoyin Yang Sheng Gong Shi Er Fa (导引养生功十二法): 12 routines from Daoyin tradition of guiding and pulling qi.
Mawangdui Daoyin (马王堆导引术): guiding qi along the meridians with synchronous movement and awareness.
Da Wu (大舞): choreographed exercises to lubricate joints and guide qi.
Below is an official video from the Chinese Health Qigong Association providing an introduction to Qigong as a health exercise.
When we inhale, the air comes into the inner world. When we exhale, the air goes out to the outer world. The inner world is limitless, and the outer world is also limitless. We say “inner world” or “outer world,” but actually there is just one whole world. In this limitless world, our throat is like a swinging door. The air comes in and goes out like a swinging door. The air comes in and goes out like someone passing through a swinging door. If you think, “I breathe,” the “I” is extra. There is no you to say “I.” What we call “I” is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale. It just moves; that is all. When your mind is pure and calm enough to follow this movement, there is nothing: no “I,” no world, no mind nor body; just a swinging door….
Tozan, a famous Zen master, said,
“The blue mountain is the father of the white cloud. The white cloud is the son of the blue mountain. All day long they depend on each other, without being dependent on each other. The white cloud is always the white cloud. The blue mountain is always the blue mountain.”
This is a pure, clear interpretation of life. There may be many things like the white cloud and blue mountain: man and woman, teacher and disciple. They depend on each other. But the white cloud should not be bothered by the blue mountain. The blue mountain should not be bothered by the white cloud. They are quite independent, but yet dependent. This is how we live….
When we become truly ourselves, we just become a swinging door, and we are purely independent of, and at the same time, dependent upon everything. Without air, we cannot breathe. Each of us is in the midst of myriads of worlds. We are in the center of the world always, moment after moment. So we are completely dependent and independent. If you have this kind of experience, this kind of existence, you have absolute independence; you will not be bothered by anything.