Here are the 18 forms. I’ll note a couple benefits of each form. These are not promises. They’re not meant to replace other medical treatments, they are instead suggested as complimentary exercises.
1. Commencing Move – I like to call this “getting hooked up.” As the arms raise, we inhale earth energy, calming the emotions. As the arms lower, tensions are cleared and returned to the earth, where they are composted. We slow down. We move as though we’re painting, maybe we’re getting our canvas ready.
2. Broadening the Chest – Now, we hook up to nature, to our surroundings. This form is helpful for those suffering from depression, insomnia and hypertension and relieving mental fatigue. We unblock Qi energy of the heart and lungs. We open our chest and declutter our heart.
3. Dancing with a Rainbow – We turn upward and connect two important acupressure points: Laogong in the palms and the Bai Hui at the crown of the head. (Words in italics are defined in a previous blog post “Qigong and TCM terms”.) By connecting these points we strengthen the Heart and Triple Heater Meridians. Dancing with a Rainbow, or some call it Painting a Rainbow, relieves back pain and some say it may help to reduce fatty deposits around the waist. No promises though.
4. Separating the Clouds – We reach down to the earth and then up to the clouds strengthening the legs while activating the kidneys. Those who suffer from dizziness, palpitations, anxiety, or shortness of breath may find relief. We also connect two points at the wrists, the Inner and Outer Gates, the Waiguan and Neiguan.
5. Twisting Waist and Swinging Arms – This form moves congested energy from the liver and gall bladder, compressing these organs and lengthening the meridians. It relieves shoulder, elbow and wrist pain. The iliopsoas muscles, a troublesome couple of muscles, are lengthened.
7. Lifting a Qi Ball, Reaching for the Sun – Particularly good for relieving stress, it stimulates blood circulation and calms the spirit. The lifting and twisting motion activates the Spleen Meridian.
8. Turning to gaze at the Moon – By twisting the torso, this form improves conditions related to the stomach and spleen and improves digestion and may help reduce fatty deposits around the waist. And then there’s the moon. The earliest Taoists turned to the moon as a window of intuition. By turning to gaze at the moon, might we be seeking hunches from our unconscious mind?
9. Twisting Waist and Pushing Hands – Twisting the torso strengthens the function of and treats ailments of the spleen and stomach, aiding digestion. This form calms the mind, and treats pains in the waist and legs. The pushing motion encourages me to feel: “I’m finished with old, unnecessary thoughts and patterns, bring on the new.”
10. Wave hands like clouds – This has been a favorite form of mine since learning it from a Taiji teacher long ago. The hands focus our attention on the Heart center, and also the lower Dan Tian, the elixir field of our Qi. We connect these two centers with our hands and our breath. The two hemispheres of the brain are exercised with the movement of the hands.
11. Scooping from the Sea and Searching the Sky – Once again we cross our wrists at the Neiguan and Waiguan points, the Inner and Outer Gates. These points remind me that I do not need to absorb other peoples’ energies. On a physical level Neiguan is a point used for treating nausea and motion sickness. The action of reaching down and then extending up and back nurtures the low back and kidneys while allowing us to feel expansive as we reach for the sky.
12. Playing with Waves – While we are learning and practicing new movements, it’s important to smile, to play, to enjoy. Once again we are rocking on our feet, stimulating both Kidney and Bladder points. This movement calms the mind and alleviates anxiety and insomnia by pushing unneeded energy away and pulling in good, healthful Qi. The pulling of the waves directs Qi to the lower Dan Tian.
Practicing this form and the next, we rock on the feet, massaging the point on the bottom of the foot called Bubbling Well, Yongquan, the point where we root to the earth. We also reach upwards from our Bai Hui, our crown.
13. Flying Dove Spreads its Wings – Once again we open the chest by spreading our wings. In doing so, we release blocked Qi and nurture the heart and lungs. Like many other forms, this action helps with depression, especially if done with a smile.
14. Punching – What do you think of when you think of punching? Anger, which can be destructive but can be channeled into productive action. By punching in this form we relieve mental stress and tension (particularly work related stress). But, we focus on keeping our fists relaxed and soft. A dichotomy which can teach us to react with strength and confidence, but with softness. It also strengthens Liver Qi.
– I’d like to call this “Acting Like a Silly Goose.” We’re reaching upwards, getting on our tip toes. This form is very grand and ballet-like. We lift away from depression and expand to new heights. This is a wonderful shoulder opener, activating the heart and lung meridians. By getting on our tip toes we exercise the kidney and bladder meridians.
16. Turning the Wheel – This form used to make me dizzy. If we turn “the wheel” focusing on moving the rib cage rather than the arms, we won’t get dizzy. We also follow our arms with our eyes using peripheral vision rather than rotating our neck. Moving the rib cage moves Qi along the Gall Bladder and Spleen meridians. By compressing and then opening the abdomen and chest we aid bowel, liver and kidney function.
17. Bouncing a Ball – This is a balancing of left and right brain hemispheres, improving coordination. The bouncing takes place in our arms, legs and feet, once again moving briefly onto our tip-toes. And like these kids, we smile! Remember the song “Skip to my Lou?” It goes well with this form.
18. Pressing the palms – Regulates and settles internal Qi through the meridians and settles the vital energy in the Dan Tian. We connect heaven and earth. The ascending and descending movements absorb the Yin quality of Earth Qi and the Yang quality of Heaven Qi.