Ba Duan Jin (or 8 silk brocades) is an ancient (7000 year old) Chinese series of Qi Gong exercise postures used to “enhance vitality and strength; learn to create balance; and harmonize the unity of body and mind” by focusing on different physical areas of the body and qi meridians. The practice of “Qi Gong” involves “qi” — “subtle breath” or “vital energy”, and “gong” — “skill cultivated through steady practice.”
There are probably hundreds of video demonstrations of Ba Duan Jin on YouTube, but it is hard to beat the meditative beauty and simplicity of Shaolin Qi Gong 20 Minute Daily Morning Routine. It is a perfect convergence of simple movements, scenic beauty, and meditative music as Shaolin Temple Europe headmaster Shi Heng Yi, slowly and silently leads viewers through the eight forms of Ba Duan Jin while standing in a snowy forest accompanied by the music of EarthSongs’ LOTUS.
While this is labeled as a morning routine, don’t be afraid to make it a part of your routine later in the day. The slow gentle movements are actually an excellent way to clear and refocus the mind as well as refresh the body after a long day of work. The key to this routine is to make it a regular/daily practice.
There are other Ba Duan Jin videos, including ones by Shi Heng Yi, that displays more elaborate moves and gestures, but it is the simplicity of this 20-minute daily routine that allows viewer/participants to make the 8 brocades a part of their daily routine:
- Pressing up to the heavens
- Drawing the bow
- Separating heaven and earth
- Wise Owl gazes backwards
- Big Bear turns from side to side
- Touching the toes and bending backwards
- Clenching fists with an angry gaze
- Stretching the body
And, still be able to pay attention to the three pillars of Qi Gong:
- The physical — focus on the physical movement itself and the structure of how your body is aligned.
- The breath — focus on the way you are breathing and how you are using breathing to support physical movement.
- The mental state — focus on the intention you are putting into the movement and what your mind is doing while you are doing the exercises.