Simple Chi Kung for Stress Relief

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We live in a very stress filled world, and perhaps more so these days than we have in a long time.  The cumulative effects of stress can have detrimental consequences on our health and people need ways to “blow off the steam”, so to speak.  One simple way that is easy for anyone to do is the practice of Chi Kung.

Chi Kung is a Chinese phrase that means Life Energy Cultivation, and is a practice of aligning breath, movement, and awareness for exercise, healing, and meditation.  Typically a Chi Kung practice involves rhythmic breathing coordinated with slow, stylized repetitive movement, a calm mindful state, and visualization of guiding Chi, or energy, through the body.  Regular practice of Chi Kung can improve health, increase vitality, and relieve stress.  

There are many forms of Chi Kung, with some being quite intricate taking years to master.  But you can do very simple Chi Kung exercises and still reap the benefits that it has to offer.  Here is an easy one you can do every day:

Find a time when you know you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes.  Take off your shoes, loosen your clothing if possible (i.e. ties, belts), and stand with your feet shoulder width apart with your knees slightly bent.  Your arms and hands should hang loosely at your sides.  Relax your shoulders, keep your spine straight, and distribute your weight evenly on your feet.

Once your are in proper position, close your eyes and lightly place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth.  Slowly breathe in through your nose focusing your breath into the area below your belly button.  This area is called the Tan Tien.  This is your center of gravity and the storehouse for your Chi energy. Let your breath fill this area first and then expand into your chest.  Exhale through your mouth with slightly parted lips.  Now, imagine your feet are growing roots deep into the earth.  Imagine a silver cord running up from the depths of the earth, through your spine, out your head, and into the heavens.  Imagine that this cord is gently and comfortably suspending you.

When you feel relaxed and centered into your Tan Tien, slowly raise your arms as you inhale.  They should be nice and relaxed as your raise them to shoulder height.  Your hands should be relaxed at the wrists as if you were dragging them up with your arms (palms down).  Your arms should reach the level of your shoulders as your complete the inhalation.  Then, as you slowly exhale, lower your arms back down to your sides.  This time, your hands will be palm out.  The hand motion should look as if you were gently waving to someone.  

As you are breathing in and out, and moving your arms up and down, imagine your whole body completely inflating and deflating.  I emphasize slowly because the slower you do it the better it works.

Repeat this exercise at least 9 times.  The Chi Kung masters place emphasis on the number 9 and multiples of 9.  The longer you do it, the more benefit you get out of it. When feel you are done, place your hands on your Tan Tien and continue breathing into this area for a little longer.  See if you can feel the heat generated in this spot, as this is the Chi you generated from the exercise.  Then slowly open your eyes, and continue your day.

tai chi


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