The Chen Style Tai Chi Cultivating Internal Energy Method comprises eleven practices or breathing exercises. Throughout all these exercises, stand up straight, your head centered over your spine, your shoulders relaxed and centered over your hips, and your knees slightly flexed. Your weight should be evenly distributed across your feet, not too much on your toes, not too much on your heels.
Method 1: Wuji Stance Chi Guiding Method
The first method is the Wuji Stance Chi Guiding Method. It is also the first movement of Tai Chi Chuan. To begin, raise the left foot and move it sideways to the width of the shoulder. Slightly bend your knees and distribute your body weight evenly. You should feel balanced over your feet. Relax your arms and shoulders. Clear your mind and relax your body. Inhale gently through your nose and raise both hands slightly higher than your shoulders, leading with your wrists. When you breathe in, use your diaphragm so your stomach moves, not your chest and shoulders.
Now exhale slowly through your mouth, keeping your face relaxed, and press down slowly with the heel of your palms. Press all the way down, until you relax your fingers at the side of your hips. Feel the Qi, or breath, descend to the Dan-Tian, which is your center, located approximately behind your navel. With hands at your sides, the first movement is now complete.
The Wuji Stance Chi Guiding Method expels carbon dioxide from the body and replenishes energy that the brain and muscles consume. It improves circulation and benefits those who suffer from insomnia, high blood pressure or other cardiac diseases.
Adjust the time and intensity for your own comfort. It is recommended to practice each method at least 5 minutes before going on to the next method. Or, you may find it beneficial to practice one method for 20-30 minutes.
Method 2: Sun Moon Chi Collecting Method
Keep your feet shoulder width apart as in the first method. Push both hands, palms leading, out in front of you while inhaling through your nose. Continue to inhale as your spread your arms to each side with your fingers spreading out. As both hands are fully extended to the sides, hold your breath while grasping with both hands and pulling downward toward the sides of your hips. Now exhale through your mouth and relax the fingers. The movement is now complete and may be repeated.
Practicing this method frequently may help prevent frozen shoulder, liver diseases and arthritis. It will strengthen the body, increase flexibility and prevent osteoporosis. When practicing this method, pay attention to inhalation to ensure that it is slow and smooth.
Method 3: Rejuvenating Chi Grabbing Method
Relax the whole body while standing with feet shoulder width apart. Leading with your hands, slowly inhale through your nose and flex your trunk forward as you reach toward the floor. Bend forward only as far as your flexibility allows. Pretend you are picking up an object from the floor; hold your breath as you return slowly to an upright position. When the body is upright, bring the elbows close in to the sides of the body and exhale slowly and deeply through your mouth. Be cautious about the pace of the motion during this exercise. Slow movement is preferred. Follow the breathing instructions exactly as correct breathing helps to prevent back strain.
Practicing this method will promote Qi movement in meridians, and increase cardiopulmonary function. It is very effective in preventing kidney problems, lower back pain, tinnitus, weariness, and cold feet or hands.
Method 4: Circulating Cosmic Orbit Chi Gathering Method
First, inhale though your nose, stretch both hands forward all the way until you are bending forward at the hips. The palms should be facing each other. Then, holding your breath, bring your hands in toward your abdomen. As the hands touch the abdomen, press down and exhale slowly and deeply through your mouth. Make sure all the movements are slow. Only bend forward as far as you feel comfortable.
This method can increase blood circulation and cardiopulmonary function. The deep breathing will calm and soothe the mind. It will help prevent insomnia, asthma, cardiopulmonary disease and allergies.
Method 5: Developing Wisdom Chi Receiving Method
With your feet shoulder-width apart, inhale slowly as your raise your arms to the sides and up above your head until your palms touch, fingers extended. Hold your breath while you bring your palms down to the side of your cheeks, then exhale slowly as you press your palms straight out in front of you until your elbows are straight. Keep the force in the heel of your palm, relax your elbows and shoulders and keep your upper body straight. Next, inhale as you grasp downward with fingers spread out and forceful, until you reach your hips. Now exhale slowly and relax your fingers. The movement is now complete.
Practicing the Developing Wisdom Chi Receiving Method can help relieve mental stress, clear the mind, and improve circulation in the brain. According to recent research, the aging process starts in the brain. When a person is in meditation, the brain enters into a recharging process by better utilizing oxygen in the brain. The coordination and function of the central nervous system improves and stress is reduced.
Method 6: Yin Yang Balancing Chi Mobilizing Method
Using the lumbar as the pivot point, start with the left side. As you rotate your body to the left, inhale through your nose and raise your arms on the sides of your body with the palms up. Stretch them out, reaching as far as you can, then, hold your breath while you drop your left elbow and bring your palm in next to your chest, turning at the waist back toward the front. Exhale through your mouth as you push forward with your left hand and pull the right hand, palm up, in toward your waist. Begin the second part of the movement by rotating to the right. Inhale as you raise your arms up on the sides of your body with palms up. Stretch them out, then hold your breath while you drop your right elbow and bring your palm in next to your chest, turning at the waist back toward the front. Slowly exhale as you push forward with your right hand and pull the left hand in toward your abdomen.
Balancing exercises will help the body adjust to a balanced state. It will replenish consumed energy and help to maintain good health.
Method 7: Tendon Lengthening Marrow Washing Chi Soothing Method
Interlock your fingers, exhale slowly and push your palms vertically toward the sky until your elbows are nearly straight. Lean your head back and look toward the sky. After you’ve stretched both arms completely, hold your breath and move your hands down until the elbows are fully extended. Inhale and start bending forward beginning with your neck and rolling down one vertebra at a time until the hands are as close to the floor as your flexibility allows. When your limit is reached, exhale deeply through your mouth. After complete exhalation, inhale and slowly roll up one vertebra at a time until you return to the beginning position, standing straight with the hands level with the abdomen. The fingers remain interlocked throughout this exercise.
Practicing this method can strengthen the musculoskeletal system, balance yin and yang, and promote hormone secretion. The kidney’s Qi is replenished, which slows the aging process and prevents illness. For people who suffer back pain, foot soreness or kidney problems, this method is the best choice.
Method 8: Rotating Dan Tian Chi Condensing Method
Place your left hand on your stomach and your right hand on top of your left. Using your navel as the center, move your hands in a circular motion. Inhale while you move your hands up on the left side and across under your chest. Exhale as you continue to move your hands down on the right side and across your lower abdomen. As the motion continues, slightly turn the body to the left. Repeat the movement slowly and coordinate with the breathing. Repeat until you’ve completed 36 circles. Then, reverse the circle with the right hand on your stomach and your left hand on top. Turn your body to the right. Repeat until you’ve completed 24 circles.
This method increases Qi circulation by physical movement and promotes internal rotation of the Dan-Tien. It helps to prevent illness, especially for stomach ulcers, diarrhea, constipation or impotence.
Method 9: Storing Energy Standing Method
Standing methods have been one of the most important basic trainings in martial arts since ancient times. Practicing the standing method frequently will be very effective in promoting kung fu and health.
There are specific requirements for the mind, breathing and posture. Clear the mind and concentrate on the Dan-Tian, your center. Inhale lightly through your nose using your diaphragm, or your abdomen. Exhale deeply through your mouth, with your facial muscles relaxed. Separate the feet to about shoulder width. Relax the whole body. Slightly bend both knees with you body weight evenly distributed. Relax the chest and tighten the abdomen. Settle your hips slightly so that your lower spine is straight. Relax your shoulders. Hold your hands in front of you, elbows bent and wrists flexed. Slightly close your eyes and mouth and relax the muscles in your face. Hold this stance for at least 5 minutes while you breathe in and out slowly. Holding longer will generate better results.
This method can relieve illness caused by stress, especially cardiac disease, high blood pressure, anemia, allergies, arthritis and insomnia. It also can balance hormones, lower cholesterol and prevent osteoporosis.
Method 10: Three Hearts Together Method
This method should be practiced after the standing method and with the same stance and posture. No movement is required. Men should place their left hands on their navels, right hand on top of left. Women should place their right hands on their navels, left hand on top of right. Both palms and the navel combine as one and will generate enormous energy and Qi. Through practicing this method, the Qi will be distributed to the whole body, will stimulate bodily functions and nourish all organs and meridians.
This method can be practiced individually, as well as with the other methods demonstrated earlier. It will help to strengthen kidney and liver functions and is helpful for stomach disease, diarrhea, constipation, impotence and prostate problems.
Method 11: Back to the Source of Universal Life Method
This method is the ending movement. With feet together, extend both arms out and up while inhaling. Then press down while exhaling. Repeat three times with the whole body relaxed. This step can also be practiced individually. Repeat with slow movements and coordinated breathing.