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Here is a set of exercises that is easier to learn than Tai Chi and Qigong, and His just as effective for improving your health as aerobics and Yoga. What's more, you don't need a teacher, great physical strength, or much flexibility—just five minutes a day and a focused mind.
All of the exercise combinations emphasize the importance of circulating chi, the life-force linked to the breath that plays a vital role in Tai Chi and in East Asian martial arts. A series of photographs illustrates each set of exercises, which consist of dynamic sitting and standing poses that require slow transitional movements from one posture to another.
• Learn exercises that are easy to remember and simple to perform, yet carry significant health benefits
• Rehabilitate from injuries, rejuvenate the body, gain flexibility, and restore movement
• Activate the power of chi without extensive training or a high level of physical fitness
• Reach a state of harmony between the spiritual mind and the physical body
• Energize, straighten your posture, stimulate the internal organs, strengthen muscles, and improve circulation
Whether you're nine or ninety, these simple exercises are the perfect workout for your body and your mind!
JIAWEN MAO has practiced Kung Fu, Qigong, and Chinese fitness exercises since he was a teenager. For four years, he studied the famous Ermei school of martial arts in China. He has taught Tai Chi Chuan and fitness exercises throughout the United States.
Using this book, you can learn some traditional Chinese fitness exercises, including the Eight-Section Brocade and Tai Chi Chuan. Effectiveness for keeping fit, ease in learning, and economy of exercising time are the criteria for the exercises chosen in this book. It should be noted here that there is more to these exercises than first meets the eyes. Some people might think that these exercises are too simple and do not offer enough challenge. Actually, they require a tremendous amount of self-discipline. The general features of traditional Chinese fithess exercises are very different from some modern exercises such as aerobics or weightlifting. A concentration of the mind is always emphasized to reach a harmonic state between the spiritual mind and the physical body. The balance of yin and yang, the unity of man and environment, the integration of gesture with mind and chi—a Chinese word mean-ing "energy flow"—and the oneness of spirit with strength and momentum are just a few of these features. In order for this to have any beneficial effect on your health, approaching it with confidence, sincerity, and perseverance in practicing the exercises is very important. Only with confidence can you develop sincerity and focus your mind while exercising; only with sincerity can you persevere to practice and gain the essence of the exercises; and only with perseverance can you get the beneficial effects of the exercises and develop more interest in them.
You are advised to practice at least once each day, three times for those who want to recover from a certain ailment, but never make yourself too tired exercising. Some of the exercises in this book need a certain amount of stretching and stress, but do not force yourself to go beyond the point of comfort. Visualization is used in the text to help readers better understand the concepts presented. In most cases, when a mirrored action is to be followed, only the action to one side is illustrated in detail. Effort has been made to illustrate the movements of these exercises more with pictures than with words. However, it is suggested that you read the requirements for the exercises carefully and review them constantly to insure that you do the exercises correctly. If this book succeeds in its goal of illustrating some effective and easy ways to learn traditional Chinese exercises, much of the credit should be given to Mr. Victor Devalcourt, who helped me a great deal with my English composition, Dr. Chang-Meng Hsiung, who provided me with much technical support, as well as Mr. Soegiharto Terta and Mr. Qihong Zhang, who helped me in taking the pictures. I would also like to express my special appreciation to Ms. Joanna Willis, the editor, for her patience and her careful examination of the book.
A Brief Introduction to Chinese Health-Enhancement Exercises
In ancient years, the Chinese exercise for health enhancement was called Daoyin. Daoyin has a history as long as Chinese culture. In fact, there are so many different routines of Daoyin that nobody knows all of them. Despite the number of varieties of Daoyin, all of the exercises have the benefits of strengthening muscles, stretching tendons, and improving the function of joints and internal organs. What characterizes Daoyin is that it takes into consideration the overall balance of the physical body system and emphasizes the uniformity of the spiritual mind and the physical body. Over the years, the Chinese people derived many different kinds of exercises from Daoyin and integrated some of them into Chinese martial arts. The exercises in this book are all related in some way to the fundamental practices of Chinese martial arts, or kung fu as some call it. As the practice of kung fu is very closely related to Chinese medical theory—consider yin and yang, the five elements, and the paths of chi flow—it is no wonder that each exercise has its special effect to cure a certain kind of illness.
Something to Know Before Learning the Exercises
Why people should exercise Many people exert themselves in ways that might cause some physical problems. These exertions could be either physical or spiritual. Some people work at computers all day long and some have to stand all day by machines. Those who drive each day sit on seats with their hands on steering wheels for hours. Business people, who travel often, do not have a regular time to have their meals. All of these people suffer from certain tensions that cause fatigue. Fatigue can only be prevented or cured through exercising. Therefore, exercises are very important for a happy life and for maintaining efficiency.
What kinds of exercises are in this book
East Asian exercises are becoming increasingly popular in Western countries nowadays. Finding a good teacher is very important for learning these exercises. Unfortunately, teachers with both performing skills and teaching abilities are not available everywhere. Even if you have learned some exercises with a good teacher, it is still difficult to practice them perfectly and remember all the forms when practicing them later by yourself. This is why people have to learn or review the exercises using instruction books. Unfortunately, not every exercise is suitable for solitary learning. This is true especially for those traditional East Asian exercises that usually require an experienced teacher to learn from. On the other hand, many people in modern society want to benefit from exercise by practicing only a little. This is why I want to introduce the ideas of this book to you. The exercises introduced in this book are some simple, easy, effective, and time-saving practices. You can learn them without a teacher, you can do them without much physical strength or body flexibility, and you can practice them for only five minutes a day if you do not have much time for exercising. However, this does not mean that these exercises are less effective when compared to those that are more time-consuming and complicated.
Contents and Sample Pages