Changing of Muscles and Tendons
In Qigong there is a training which is dedicated to change of muscles and tendons. Yi Jin Jing is training which everybody got to know – everyone who have ever trained any of Chinese martial arts. It is a training in which you are doing exercises which are meant for tendons stretching and relaxing of muscles. You devote your attention to stronger flow of energy, flexibility, endurance which is not based on the muscular mass. Muscles can actually reduce while training, but you increase your inner power or Jin, which is manifested with the use of tendons.
Inner martial arts or Neijia
Practitioner develops explosiveness, flexibility and endurance, that are known especially in so called inner martial arts or Neijia such as Taijiquan, Liuhebafa, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan. It is characteristic for these martial arts that practitioners have strong tendons but are skinny and at the same time have developed incredible inner power which they manifest with their stability, speed, flexibility… But all of this is not a purpose of this blog.
Back to the foundation
Today I want to write about training with tendons in Qigong. Those who follow us already know that on broader picture martial art styles mentioned above are also Qigong. But narrowly speaking, Qigong is above all conducted of meditative and physical exercises, and while we do them we are also working with energy. For more on a topic about different kinds of Qigong you can read our past articles.
With Qigong beginners, who are only starting to travel with us, we many times notice mentality that is brought from school gyms where they were thought to work on dictation, until the end or to where they can reach and of course that their personal limit or pain is not important and you need to go beyond your limits. First step is to get student ready to start to listen and observe oneself and surrounding, and not to make a move that goes to the limit of one’s capacity. You never turn your neck to the end because you won’t come on the next training, because of your neck pain that you got from exaggerated movements during this training.
How do you start working with Tendons
Next step is to learn how to work less with muscles and more with tendons. This is a step towards freeing your mind, body and spirit. From rationality. Strong and developed tendons are sign of health, not the muscles of bodybuilder. Training with tendons is easy in the beginning and demands only to get rid of old habits on physical level and to learn new movements which are more like stretching. And that actually is a principle for sensing tendons and working with them. In short it’s stretching.
On our Qigong trainings, at the beginning we get stretched every time. This is put simple, but not less different than principle which was introduced already by Bodhidharma or Da Mo in famous Yi Jin Jing. Well, working according to the principle of stretching tendons, rotating arms, legs and trunk in different angles so you can get in contact with different sets of tendons and muscles and stretch them.
With repetitive stretches during training you attain relaxation of muscles and increased and better tonus of tendons. Exercises in qigong are done in many repetitions, softly and relaxed. That way no one gets injured or overtired.
Simplified, tendon is tissue that is composed of connective tissue or fascia and is placed in the beginning and at the end of muscle. Muscle is in the middle. Stretching exercises gradually develop this tissue and releases muscle. This is followed by increased flow and lessened holding of qi energy in muscle tissues. Holding of energy causes pain, injuries, inflammation, sicknesses… Therefore practitioner becomes more opened for qi stream which is essential purpose of qigong.
Next step is to start leading qi consciously out of the body, through your limbs and through the meridians which are connected with fascia as they go between layers of fascia in the body. But for this to happen, you need to cultivate your mind or better yet to free your mind.
Tendons are expression of health and spirit
Now even further step is connection with universal, with source and freeing of the Spirit. But what does tendons have to do with spirit? Chinese know more than one form of spirit. One of them is Po and is located in Liver and belongs to the element of Wood. This is one of the most temperamental and most regenerative elements. Its belonging emotion is Anger. Anger, that can destroy, but it can also wake and set in motion energy, so it can starts to flow and circulate. Wood governs spring time and during this season this energy wakens everyone and everything in nature. Plants, animals, people and rivers get enliven. Tendons also belong to this element. The mystic creature of this element is sometimes a White Tiger, but oftentimes a Dragon.
Because of this element we will get a joyous laugh, when the energy will be moving into element of Fire and joy of Heart. Maybe this is why masters of Qigong are so happy in their oldness?
May the Qi be with you!
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