(Joints and Qigong – 3)
In this post about joints I will discuss about the connection of joints with Five elements and how joints function as energy gates. If you want to read more about joint conditioning please read previous posts.
Joints and Five elements
You can find many excellent articles and books which explain and describe this topic in depth. Therefore I will only mention briefly the basic things concerning joints.
According to Qigong and also Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory the majority of joint problems are related to stagnation of Qi in joints. A joint consists of different tissues which are in the Theory of Five elements related to different organs, their energies and functions.
The condition of bones is connected to Kidneys and Water element. One of the possible causes for problems with bones can be a weak Essence, which resides within Kidneys and Water element. The pathogen element of cold affects joints, as does Kidneys, and it is common that during the winter joint issues can worsen.
If we consider emotions connected with the Water element and Kidneys, excessive emotions as fear, uneasiness, stress which last for a long time can contribute to joint issues. To all of this emotions is related a feeling of contraction. When I feel for example fear I feel how my joints energetically “shrink”. Developing calmness and awareness will help to balance these emotions.
Joint ligaments and tendons
The joint ligaments and tendons are connected to Liver and Wood element. Imbalance of this element can results in rigidity of joint ligaments and tendons and consecutively in sprains and ruptures. The pathogen element related to Liver is wind, especially cold wind. Experiencing frequent emotions as anger and rage can also affect joint ligament and tendons. When loosening a joint, one might feel as if the wind was being released from joint. That might be the energy of Woody qualities being released.
The condition of muscles is connected to Spleen and Earth element. The pathogen element connected with Spleen is dampness. People who have joint issues are usually very sensitive to dampness which penetrates into the muscles, tendons of joints and causes stiffness and pain. Spleen is connected also with digestion which is according to TCM related to health of joints. As I have already mentioned in previous posts healthy food plays an important role in preventing joint issues. The emotion which affects Spleen the most is excessive worry.
Spaces for Qi circulation
In Qigong and also in TCM are joint capsules considered as spaces or cavities into which Qi enters and from which it exits. This movement of Qi is controlled primarily by Liver and Triple Burner in general. But of course it depends also from all other energy meridians which traverse a particular joint.
If Qi moves into and out from the joints in balanced way, the joints will be healthy and their movement unrestricted. Keeping joints open is therefore vital for a good and smooth Qi flow through the energy meridians. These are two of the reasons why in Qigong is constantly stressed the importance of “opening joints”.
My background is also Biodynamic craniosacral therapy where working with joints is always about re-establishing space. Every joint needs a space which enables mobility and motility of tissue structures. The term space doesn’t denote merely a physical space but also the space in a sense of joint’s energy field.
After you have done considerable number of Qigong exercises which increase mobility of joints and open them you can feel how the energy radiates from your joints and create energy “balls” around them.
Energy gates located at joints
In Qigong joints are considered as energy gates. Energy gates are points or centers through which the Qi of our body and the Qi of environment exchange and communicate.
To be more precise, the energy gates in joints are located in the space between the bones of joint.
Feel the joints with your mind
Joints as energy gates are part of your energy body. In order to regulate the Qi at these points joints have to be open and you have to be able to use your mind to feel them physically and energetically. Then you can learn how to lead the Qi through these gates in both directions and regulate their flow. In more advanced Qigong practice this will serve you for different purposes.
The center of the joint is the weakest part of the bone and according to some Qigong theories Qi can enter there into the bone most easily. This concept is used for example in Bone breathing technique (part of Marrow/Brain Washing (Xi Sui Jing)) where one way for leading Qi into a limb marrow is through the joints. Of course to do this you have to first have enough of energy.
Balance Yang and Yin
When conditioning your joints try to gradually connect your physical body with your mind using a calm and deep breathing. Use your mind to lead the Qi.
Try to balance the practice which is more physically emphasized (more Yang) with sitting or standing meditation (more Yin) where you can be more focused on breathing and using your mind to lead the Qi into your joints. Start to practice with your focus only on single joint. Later you can try with more joints at once. This practice will help you to connect with your joints and in time develop the ability to enter each of these energy gates and help to relax and open joints using your mind.
May the Qi be with you!
Watch also our videos about Warm up and stretching in Qigong
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