理心 – Li Xin Gong
Heart Regulating Exercises
The Supreme Commander “The Heart is the monarch of the 5 Yin organs and 6 Yang organs and it is the residence of the mind.” ……..The ‘Spiritual Axis’
As we approach the summer season, the energy of the heart (Fire element also related with the summer season) becomes prominent and Qigong practice should be practiced accordingly. I thought I would give a little background on the findings of qigong practice for the heart according to research conducted in China.
The Effects of Qigong on the Heart
Heart Qigong practice can increase the efficiency of the oxygen supply from the heart, increase the adaptability of the heart’s stroke volume and reduce or slow down the illnesses associated with the heart. Several studies have been conducted on the effects of Qigong on the heart. Here is a summary of two famous studies conducted in China which looked at the effects of Qigong on hypertension and found significant benefits of regular practice. The studies were conducted with large groups and over long periods of time.
Research study 1
A significant study to assess the effects of Qigong on hypertension and related conditions was undertaken at the Shanghai Institute of Hypertension where 122 individuals were randomly selected for Qigong practice with a control group of 120 non-practitioners (all of similar ages) and tracked for a 30 year period. Both groups took standard hypertensive drugs. At the end of the trial, almost 48% of the control group had died, where as just over 25% of the qigong group had died highlighting a P value of p<0.001. (A probability of less than one in a thousand). There was also a significant difference in the incidence of stroke where it was approximately half within the Qigong group at 20.49% compared with 40.83% within the control group. The mortality rate as a result of stroke was 15.57% in the Qigong group and more than double in the control group at 32.5% giving a P value of p<0.01. Overall, the conclusion of the study found that the Qigong practitioners had stronger heart muscles and had better left ventricular function when diagnosed via ultrasound and that the practice of Qigong significantly reduced the multiple cerebro-cardiovascular risk factors.(Wong, Xu, Qian & Shi 1993).
Research study 2
A similar study to that of the Shanghai research outlined above was conducted at Xiamen University in Fujian Province. This 6 year study involved 204 hypertensive patients. The findings showed similar results. Combining Qigong with hypertensive drugs was 19% more effective than the drugs alone. The mortality rate was also significantly lower at 17% within the Qigong group compared to 32% within the control group. The benefits of Qigong also indicated better adaptability to stressful situations shown by more stable blood pressure and following six months of daily practice, there were less abnormal blood clotting and higher HDL (high-density lipoprotein) levels in the blood compared with the control group. (Xian 1990).
Higher HDL levels help transport LDL levels out of the tissues and blood which help lower the risk of heart disease. (Ornish 1990).
Heart Regulating Exercise
Posture and mental focus is key during the practice of any Qigong exercise. The body must be relaxed and the mind clear of distractions. The focus should be on the dantien. There are several Li Xin Gong exercises. Here is a very simple and safe, yet effective exercise routine. Inhale through the nose and exhale via the mouth for these exercises. When practicing this Li Xin Gong, stand facing south. Whilst this can be practiced at anytime, the optimal times are between the hours of 11am and 1pm – the time when the flow of Qi is strongest in the heart or between 11pm and 1am which is the period of ‘ebb tide’ of the heart. According to Beinfield & Korngold, symptoms of excess appear during the peak times of the flow of Qi, whereas symptoms of deficiency appear during the ebb tides of Qi. (Beinfield & Korngold 1991).
Begin by standing with feet shoulder width apart and the palms (one on top of the other) placed over the dantien. Ladies should place the right palm against the dantien and vice versa for men.
Relax the posture, knees held gently, chin tucked down. Be aware of the ‘BaiHui’ point at the top of the head and feel rooted at the ‘Yongquan’ point in the soles of the feet. Gently pull up with the muscles at the ‘HuiYin’ (perinium) point and place the tip of the tongue on the palate of the mouth. Take your time adjusting your posture and relaxing. When ready, move onto step 3.
After holding this posture for a few minutes, move your palms and let your arms hang by your side, palms facing in.
Raise your arms out to the sides up to shoulder height with palms facing up and continue moving the arms forward now with palms facing each other and pull palms inwards towards your chest. This movement should be done as you breath in. As you breath in, imagine fine red silk threads entering into your nose.
As you exhale imagine the silk threads going to your heart. During the exhalation, make a ‘HA’ sound. Don’t hold or force your breath at any point. Breathe naturally. At the same time as you begin to exhale, face the palms downwards and lower them down past the dantien and finish with the your arms hanging by your side, palms facing in as in step 3.
Repeat this exercise cycle 12 to 24 times daily.
DISCLAIMER These exercises are not intended to replace any conventional treatment and do not make any claims of a ‘cure’ to any health condition. If you have any doubts about your physical health, you should consult a qualified physician before commencing any exercises.Whilst these exercises are generally simple and safe, if you experience any discomfort or ill effects, you should discontinue immediately and seek medical assistance.Practice of the above exercises are done at your own risk and the author of this article or any other members of ‘The Academy Of Eastern Arts team’ including web hosts, assume(s) no responsibility for any injury or damage resulting from the execution of the techniques and exercises presented here .It is recommended that you see a physician before beginning ANY exercise program.