Saturday, March 26, 2016

Zhan Zhuang Cooling & Clearing Exercises Pt. 2

The second method of the Zhan Zhuang Cooling & Clearing exercises focuses less on the physical and more on the energetic elements. This method uses the palm to guide the Qi along various meridians away from the Central Channel and out the extremities. The palms can be used individually or in a continuous repetitive manner, one after the other, especially on the front of the body. (Chest and Abdomen) These motions have the effect of both smoothing out blockages and venting excess heat. The same lines as with the patting/tapping method are used, but with more specificity. 

First place your left elbow, forearm and palm roughly parallel to the ground with the shoulder completely relaxed. Then, starting from the top of the left shoulder, use the right palm to brush down the arm all the way to the finger tips and then an inch or two beyond. It is important to extend the motion slightly beyond the body so any tainted Qi or excess heat can be fully expelled. 

Also, there are three pressures that can be used; moderate contact throughout the route, light contact and near contact. The last method necessitates are certain degree of sensitivity to the Qi. The idea is to brush a millimeter or two above the skin throughout the route. When done correctly there’s a tingling sensation along the pathway. And when the Qi from the palm is particularly robust, the hair on the arm may stand on end, sort of like what people call ‘Goose Bumps’ or out here in Hawaii, ‘Chicken Skin.’ 

While it is possible to cover the entire arm with each pass, a far better result is achieved by dividing the arm into its composite meridians. Start with the Large intestine meridian, followed by the Triple Heater and Small Intestine meridians. Do each three times.

Next, turn the forearm over so the palm faces up and brush down the Heart, Pericardium and Lung meridians. Note: If you feel a lot of movement of Qi or heat  in any particular meridian you may want repeat until you feel an sense of evenness or cooling.

Brush down the same five lines as with the patting/tapping method. They are the centerline (Ren meridian) the left and right Stomach meridians and the left and right Spleen meridians. (See Part 1 for locations) With the Brushing/Guiding method the chest and abdomen are linked. Start from right below the clavicle and brush all the way down to the level of the pubic bone on each pass.

In addition to all the above, there are two other techniques which involve clearing blocked energy in the diaphragm and/or Hypochondrial region. Blockages in this area are often the result of stagnant Liver Qi.

Method 1 - Place both palms on the left side of the body near the low ribs. Brush toward the centerline following the bottom of the ribcage. Continue past the Solar Plexus and out to the right side of the body. Slightly accelerate and increase pressure as you finish each repetition. Repeat 6-12 times for the left side of the body then start again beginning on the right.

Method 2 - Place your palms on both sides of the body at about the level of the low ribs and then brush along the bottom of the ribcage toward the centerline and then down the left and right Stomach channels to the pubic bone. Repeat 9-12 times. Slightly accelerate and increase pressure on the descending part of the motion.

If there is headache or unusual pressure in the head, we can utilize some massage to mediate the issue. The main points for this include GB-20 Feng Chi (Wind Pool, Wind Gate) and GV-16 Feng Fu (Wind Mansion.) Notice that both names contain the word ‘Wind,’ which in Chinese Medicine is considered a primary cause of headache. Wind in the head is usually derived from excess heat or fire that generates Wind (as does an actual bonfire) which then rises (into the head.) For Feng Chi point use both thumbs, one for each side. For Feng Fu try the index and middle finger of one or both hands. Use a small circular motion that every so often firmly descends down the neck. Both points can be effective for draining excesses in the head. Note: Be sure to avoid pushing solely in an upward direction toward the skull and brain. 

Depending on the location of the problem, one can also use a firm pressing pattern starting at the inside of the eyebrows (Zan Zhu Bl-2) rubbing outward through Taiyang point (temples) over in front of the ears and then down through the lower jaw. An alternative route branches from in front of the ears and goes up and around the ear, then downward, following the bone to the neck. For these methods, the tips of the middle fingers are often used, either with a firm steady pressure or small clockwise circles. A firm type of pressure is indicated in order to disperse and break up the ‘excess’ condition of which this type of issue almost always is.


One blockage that can also occur in the neck area is known as ‘Plum Blossom Qi which manifests at the base of the throat as a feeling of something being stuck there or difficulty swallowing. The remedy for this is Tiantu point CV-22. Rest your index finger on the bone at the bottom of the throat notch so that you can feel your windpipe with your fingertip. Now carefully push down behind the bone but in front of the windpipe. Gradually keep pushing downward until your finger wants to stop. From there, inhale and exhale, then remove your finger. Be careful not to push down too deep or too hard or you’ll start to cough. Also, know that if you mistakenly push directly into the windpipe with any strength, you’ll almost certainly make yourself cough. So be careful and go easy ‘till you know how you handle it.  Stimulating Tiantu point in this manner often clears the feeling of something being caught in the throat quite quickly.

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