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MODULE 1

Bagua and the Sixteen Neigong

BRUCE FRANTZIS

Copyright 201 0 Bruce Frantzis


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Table of Contents
Section 1: Bagua and the
Sixteen Neigong .................................... 5

Section 2: What You'll Learn in the


Bagua Mastery Program ......................... 9
Foundational Neigong for Bagua ......................... 10
Relaxation ................................................................... 11
Taoist Breathing (Neigong Component #1) ........... 11
Breathing Level 1: The Simple Story ................................... 11
Breathing Level 2: The More Complete Story ................... 12
Breathing Level 3: The Bigger Picture ................................ 12
Breath and Movement ........................................................... 13

Basic Body Alignments


(Neigong Component #4) ........................................ 13
Avoid Incorrect Alignments ................................................. 16

Turning the Arms (Neigong Component #9) ........ 17


Turning the Hips (Neigong Component #9) ......... 17
Best Practices ......................................................................... 18

Conscious, Relaxed Intent ....................................... 20


Twisting the Arms and Legs
(Neigong Component #9) ....................................... 20

Section 3: What Intermediate


Practitioners Will Learn ........................ 23
The Interplay of Opening-Closing
and Lengthening (Neigong Component #7) ...... 24
Opening-Closing ...................................................... 24
Lengthening .......................................................................... 26

Twisting and Spiraling


(Neigong Component #9) ...................................... 34
Twisting ...................................................................... 34

Spiraling ..................................................................... 35
Physical Tissue Motions of Spiraling in
Conjunction with Twisting ..................................... 37

Turn from the Central Channel


(Neigong Component #13) ..................................... 37
Ideal Goals for Turning ............................................ 38

Heart-Mind (Neigong Components #15-#16) ...... 40


Reverse Breathing
(Neigong Component #1) ....................................... 41
Important Practice Points ....................................... .41

Moving In and Out from Your Core


(Neigong Component #14) .....................................................42
Connected Pressure ................................................. 43

Create an Elastic Body and Mind .......................... 44

Section 1
Bagua and the
Sixteen Neigong
Bagua is derived from and is a part of the neigong or "internal skill" tradition
of Taoist meditation. Beginning thousands of years ago, Taoists delved deeply
within themselves during meditation and discovered and learned how to work
with the chi flows within their body-mind-spirit.
The Taoist science of how these energy flows work is called the "Taoist sixteen
neigong

system:' Bagua was developed from the sixteen neigong with the

purpose of embodying the Eight Universal Energies of the I Ching. Conversely,


all the other Taoist arts-qigong, tai chi and hsing-i-are external forms infused
with neigong (internal power).
The sixteen components refer to the major subjects within the system, which are:
1. Breathing methods,fromthesimpletothecomplex.Thegoa l is to coordinate
the expansions and contractions of the belly with every anatomical part
and energetic function within your body and external aura.

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Bagua Mastery Program

2. Moving chi along the general direction of the various ascending,


descending and lateral connecting channels within the body. The whole
process includes methods to help you feel your chi so that you can move
it smoothly in the general direction to where it will work most efficiently.
Part of this is concerned with how to transform or dissolve and release the
various kinds of energy that flows within specified channels.
3. Moving chi in specific ways through all the main and secondary
acupuncture channels, energy gates and points, as well as the multitude
of tiny interconnecting channels that cause specific functions to occur.
4. Precise body alignments that prevent the flow of chi from being either

blocked or dissipated.
5. Dissolving, releasing and resolving all blockages of the physical, emotional
and spiritual sides of oneself.
6. Bending and stretching the body's soft tissues in a general direction from
the inside out and the outside in, and along the body's surfaces associated
with the yin and yang acupuncture channels.
7. Opening and closing methods (pulsing). Opening means to expand, grow
larger or flow outward and emanate like a sun. Closing means to condense
and get smaller in an inward direction, like the gravity flow of a black hole.
Closing carries no connotation of tension, contraction or force in the
movement, only continuous inward flow toward a point of origination.
Opening and closing actions can occur within any of the body's soft or
hard tissues as well as anywhere within the body's subtle energy anatomy
(channels, points, aura, etc.).
8. Working with the energies of the external aura to connect the body with
mental states; and make connections between the body, the aura and the
rest of the psychic and spiritual energies that exist within the universe.
9. Amplifying the circles and spirals of energy inside the body that have been
dormant and amplifying and controlling the flow of the currents that are
already operating well.
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Module 7: Bagup and the Sixteen Neigong

10. Learning to move chi to any part of the body at will (especially to the
internal organs, glands and spots within the brain and spinal cord). This
includes absorbing or projecting chi from all body parts at will.
11. Awakening and controlling all the energies of the spine and what they
connect to. This includes the vertebrae, cerebrospinal fluid, brain, spinal
cord and all the nerves within the body.
12. Awakening and using the body's left and right energy channels.
13. Awakening and using the body's central energy channel, which controls
all the others.
14. Developing the capacities and all the uses of the body's lower tantien,
the main energetic center that directly affects all physical functions, one's
sense of fear, insecurity and death and one's sense of being stable and
grounded.
15. Developing the capacities and all the uses of the middle and upper tantiens,
and the higher human spiritual centers. The middle tantien (heart center)
governs all relationships. It is intimately tied to all our most subtle emotions
and intuitions and is considered the source of consciousness within the
body. The upper tantien, located within the brain, is critical to longevity
because of its ability to activate the pituitary and pineal glands (master
glands). It is also responsible for well-functioning thought processes and
psychic capacities.
16.1ntegrating and connecting each of the previous fifteen components into
one, unified energy. Permanent integration is different from a temporary
buzz or having a lot of energy that generates strong experiences but
ultimately goes nowhere. If number sixteen is lacking, it is difficult to
absorb and integrate the good qualities ofthe other fifteen in a stable and
comfortable manner that allows the practitioner to use them effortlessly
to maximum effect-such as while resting or sleeping.

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Bagua Mastery Program

Each of these components or subjects has immense depth, and all but the more
superficial aspects have been kept relatively secret for millennia. Each one of the
components could legitimately merit one or more very large books. Within any
one component, there may be hundreds and even thousands of techniques for
developing chi.
Each of the components is organically related to and overlaps with each of the
others. Together they comprise a continuous circle of knowledge. As with any
circle, there is no definitive starting point for beginning your studies of neigong
nor is there a definitive endpoint. Instead, you study neigong by going around
and around the circle of sixteen. Each time you go around, you hopefully
spiral ever deeper into more fulfilling and beneficial levels within each individual
component and within the neigong system as a whole.

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Section 2
What You'll Learn in the
Bagua Mastery Program
In the past, I've tried to teach the sixteen neigong simultaneously with the
external movements of bagua and tai chi. My experience, however, has been
that the complexity of the physical movements inhibits attention to the internal
energies.
So, within the Bagua Mastery Program, initially when you learn a bagua
technique, you will receive instruction on:
The physical movements.
The essential foundational aspects of the sixteen neigong
within those movements.
Once you gain proficiency at this level, you can continue studying neigong and
then go back and begin learning the intermediate levels of practice, which are
discussed in the next section.

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Foundational Neigong for Bagua


The foundational neigong principles and practices described in this section are
best begun as early as possible. Therefore, some initial instruction is provided
below and further elaboration is presented in various ways throughout the
modules. For each bagua practice you learn-e.g. straight-line walking, warm-up
exercises or the Single Palm Change-you first want to familiarize yourself with
its gross movements. But after this initial period, start considering the internals.
The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to implement these principles,
especially as they get progressively more complex.
I, along with many of my more experienced instructors, teach many neigong
practices within Longevity Breathing and Energy Gates Qigong. It is highly
recommended that you seek out instruction in these subjects as a complement
to the instruction provided herein. The better the instruction you receive and
the more you practice, the easier it will be to implement these principles and
techniques into your bagua form.
There are the seven essential practice ingredients in bagua for beginning
practitioners:

Relaxation

Taoist Longevity Breathing

Basic body alignments

Turning the arms

Turning the hips and waist

Conscious, relaxed intent

Twisting the legs and arms.

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Module 1: Bagua and the Sixteen Neigong

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Relaxation
All of your muscles and nerves must be relaxed when practicing any qigong,
bagua or tai chi technique. Under no circumstances should the body's muscles or
nerves be deliberately tensed or forced.
Many erroneously think they must tense their body to produce yang internal
energy. The power of the mind must not be pushed to exercise its force of will.
It often physically shows up as involuntarily tensing of the back of the eyes and
tightening of the jaw. Relaxing the mind will eventually result in consciously
relaxing the brain-a new and challenging task for many beginners.
Becoming relaxed is paramount in all Taoist practices.

Taoist Breathing
(Neigong Component #1)
Classically, bagua only used Taoist methods of whole-body breathing. With all
Taoist breathing methods, the chest is deliberately not expanded. This is the
opposite of what is practiced in Hatha yoga, gymnastics and more common
Western breathing techniques.
Taoist breathing has two basic methods: regular and reverse breathing.
After the beginning (learning) stage, bagua classically was intended to only
be practiced with reverse breathing, which will be explained in Section 3.
Regular Taoist breathing was considered a preliminary rather than main event.
Most people, however, must first learn how to do regular breathing well in order
to do reverse breathing without risk of injury.

Breathing Level 1: The Simple Story


Healthy breathing emphasizes movement of the diaphragm. It is the physical
downward and upward movement of the diaphragm that enables air to enter
and leave the lungs, respectively.
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Initially, you practice engaging your diaphragm and deep belly breathing.
Each inhale and exhale deliberately moves and massages your internal organs.
Regular Taoist breathing expands your belly on the inhale and condenses your
belly on the exhale.

Breathing Level 2: The More Complete Story


Breathing with your belly means a bit more than its obvious implications.
Initially, with each breath, you expand and release your entire belly from the top
of your pubic hair to your diaphragm (solar plexus), including the sides and back
of your belly. This activates your liver and spleen as well as the back of your belly
(abdomen), where your lower back muscles and kidneys are located. Your body's
anatomy physically moves in all the appropriate places as the expanding and
condensing coordinates with your inhales and exhales.
In regular Taoist breathing, as you inhale, your belly and other anatomical parts
of your body (muscles, ligaments and internal organs) expand or open. When
you exhale, your belly and other anatomical parts of your body simultaneously shrink, condense or close. (In reverse breathing, the opening and shrinking
patterns are the exact opposite.)

Breathing Level 3: The Bigger Picture


Taoist regular breathing also involves breathing into and with the back of your
lungs without the front of your chest moving. This techniques directly massages
your heart and is particularly emphasized. It is a unique feature of Taoist breathing that is not found in other breathing systems.
Your breath should reach the very top of your lungs, which people normally don't
do unless they are well-trained in these methods.
Lao Tse writes in the Tao Te Ching, "The wise man breathes from his heels:' A
partial meaning of this statement refers to coordinating the physical breath with

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breathing chi into and out of several parts of your body simultaneously,
including:
The internal organs.
The feet through the legs and hips.
The crown of the head.
The spine, which activates and wakes up your whole spinal
system, brain and central nervous system.

Breath and Movement


Initially, your physical movements should not be consciously synchronized to your
inhales and exhales. It is okay if it naturally happens, but not if you consciously engineer it by using effort or conscious will. It can have potentially negative
emotional consequences. For the sufficiently inexperienced, conscious linkage
of bagua physical movements with the breath can potentially and dangerously
over stimulate or suppress your emotional energy.

Later, with experience and using your own best judgment, you can naturally let
the linkages with the breath happen of their own accord. You'll only nudge them
a little every once in a while. If in doubt about whether you might be overextending yourself, take it easy and wait for instruction from a competent teacher to
provide you with personal feedback.

Basic Body Alignments


(Neigong Component #4)
There are many fundamentals of body alignments that should be followed when
practicing any aspect of bagua or in any other Taoist energy arts. Classic Taoist
body alignment principles are practiced more or less in similar fashion regardless
of format including:

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Bagua Mastery Program

Taoist chi practices for health and stress relief.


Internal martial arts, including all variations of bagua, tai chi,
hsing-i and liu he ba fa (combination forms).
Neigong, qigong and meditation methods can be practiced
while standing, moving, sitting, lying down or in relationship to
others.

Figure 1.2.1
Fundamental Bagua Alignments

These fundamental alignments (Figure 1.2.1) apply to all bagua applications for
medical, martial art or meditation practices. They are:
The neck is straight, so the weight of the head is gently lifted off
the spine and the neck's highest vertebrae. ideally, this is aided
by the head being energetically and gently pulled upward from
the energy center in your aura to above your head.

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Module 1: Bagua and the Sixteen Neigong

The spine is straight.


Significantly, the tailbone is gently tucked under and slightly
forward rather than only perpendicular to the ground as in tai
chi.
The chest does not stick out.
The midriff (between the top of the hip and the lowest rib) is
lifted.
Knees are always slightly bent.
The shoulders, back and buttocks are rounded horizontally
forward.
The rounding of the back allows the chest to spread and round
horizontally toward the shoulders. This allows the chest to reach
its normal, full-size without causing any internal compression.
This in turn allows your natural breathing to massage the heart
to an extent greater than a normal puffed out chest position.
The chi of the chest is sunk and the chest is rounded vertically
in a relaxed, but not collapsed manner. You should not go to
the point of collapsing the chest onto the diaphragm and solar
plexus, which would weaken your breathing and close down this
important energetic center. The relaxation and rounding of the
chest allows the spine to straighten and the head to lift to their
fullest natural extension possible without tension.
The abdomen is relaxed, so you can fully breathe with your belly,
diaphragm and kidneys, and over time, your chi can sink and
store in your lower tantien.
Keep your perineum relaxed and open by rounding your
croutch. Be sure not to squeeze or close your perineum with
your thighs as you align your lower body. Doing so will block the
chi from your legs from fully connecting to your spine.
The kwa or inguinal crease is folded or shrunk. This gives the
appearance that you are sitting on an invisible chair or what the
Chinese call "sitting in a sedan chair:'
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Lastly, when on the ground, the feet are flat on the ground and
firmly rooted.

Avoid Incorrect Alignments


Incorrect alignments can be corrected. My best advice is to seek a well-qualified,
competent instructor's help in a live training situation, so they can give you necessary personal corrections.
The aura above your head should not be so energetically weak that it comes too
close to the top of the head. If so, the energy in your body must be gradually
increased. Often a weak aura results when your head is scrunched onto your
neck. This causes the neck vertebrae to compress more and more over time and
the occipital junction (occiput, at the base of the back of the skull) to close down,
which weakens or blocks energy flow upward and downward.
Other common misalignments are:
The kwa or inguinal crease is pushed out rather than sunk or
folded.
The shoulders, back and buttocks arch backward.
The chest is puffed out.
The midriff is collapsed.
The abdomen is tense and sucked in.
The spine is overly curved.
The thighs are collapsed.
The perineum is closed.
The knees are locked.
The arch of the foot or area behind the Achilles heel is collapsed.

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Module 1: Bagua and the Sixteen Neigong

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Turning the Arms


(Neigong Component #9)
Turning (rotating), twisting and spiraling the soft tissues of the body are three
stages in the process of awakening the spiraling energy currents of the body.
Each stage sets the necessary foundation upon which the next stage builds and
expands. The practices of turning and twisting are explained and explored in
detail in an accompanying Module 1 document, Bagua Skills: Twisting.
In the initial stages of bagua practice, focus on continuously rotating or turning
the outer muscles of your arms whenever you move them. Rotating or turning
a hand simply requires that you turn a palm over from up to down. However,
to get the idea of how this is applied properly in bagua, you must begin with
proper alignments. Therefore, with your elbow bent, turn your palm continuously
between up and down.
Ideally, this turning rotation of the arm would begin from the shoulder blades,
move through the upper arms and forearms, and finish turning at your palm and
fingers.

Turning the Hips


(Neigong Component #9)
Whenever you turn your torso in bagua-whether in the warm-up and body
unification exercises, Circle Walking while changing direction or the Single Palm
Change-there are bad and good ways to turn.
Ideally, you turn from your hips and waist. (The best practice for intermediates is
to allow your turning to originate from your central channel to drive the turning
of your hips and waist.)

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The worst practices for turning are:


The turning of your body originating and being centered in your
chest, shoulders, neck or head, or any combination thereof.
Not turning your torso or hips, but rather your head and arms.
Both of these will result in having the weight of your upper body concentrate
within your spine and/or knees, which basically tears them apart.

Best Practices
See Figure 1.2.2. Several points are essential.

Make sure that your hips and torso turn while maintaining your four
points. This ensures your torso is stable and that it rests stably on your
hips, so that when your waist turns, your hips turn and vice-versa.
The turning of the torso is best achieved by having your kwa (inguinal
crease), hips and body's centerline gel into one unit and using that unit
to generate and control the smooth turning of your torso.
The body's centerline begins from the crown of your head and
descends on a straight line downward passing through your
nose, throat notch, heart center, belly button and lower
tantien, and finishes at your perineum. When turning
incorrectly, many practitioners begin by turning only their
head, which disconnects them from their body's centerline.
Avoid this and keep the connection between the centerline of
your head and the centerline of your torso as strong and stable
as possible.
As with the turning of your arms the turning of your hips in the
beginning stages ideally comes from turning the outer muscles
of your waist, hips and legs. Developing this capacity can go

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Module 1: Bagua and the Sixteen Neigong

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Figure 1.2.2
Keep Your Four Points Aligned

through natural progressive phases. In the beginning, it is best to


turn your hips and torso and let that turning stimulate and cause
the muscles of the legs to turn. Later, when your legs have gotten
very stable and your leg muscles are very relaxed, you can turn the
muscles along your legs and hips to stimulate and cause your hips
and torso to turn. This is especially useful by the time you
practice holding arm postures while Circle Walking. In the Single
Palm Change (SPC), you should go with your intuition and freely
mix and match between the previous options.

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If the alignments of the centerline of your head, neck and torso and the four
points are kept together, the weight of your torso will stay inside your torso, on
top of your hips and legs, and will not as easily end up excessively pressurizing
the anatomical structures of your lower body.

Conscious, Relaxed Intent


A basic principle of neigong states that intent moves chi, which motivates and
enables physical movement. In both bagua and tai chi, the deliberate use of
conscious, relaxed intent becomes the source of your movements. You do not
rely on conscious or unconscious muscular reflexes no matter how well-trained
and finely honed.
Intent is of two kinds: the ordinary intellectual type or the extraordinary kind of
the Heart-Mind to be explained in Section 3. All forms of intent ultimately derive
either from ordinary intent or the Heart-Mind.
Ordinary intent is partial. It is derived from the part of our brain or mind that we
use to manipulate symbols or for logic and mathematics. It is the part of us we
use to activate force of will.
In the early stages of learning bagua, try to become aware of and then refine your
ordinary intent. The intent you should use in bagua and tai chi should always be
relaxed, fluid and continuous and not tense, forced or intermittent-reg ardless
of being employed for longer or shorter times.

Twisting the Arms and Legs


(Neigong Compon ent #9)
As noted in the discussion on turning the arms, turning (rotating), twisting
and spiraling the soft tissues of the body are three stages of the process of
awakening the spiraling energy currents ofthe body. Each stage sets the necessary
foundation upon which the next stage builds and expands.

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While it is important for beginners to start with turning or rotating the


muscles of the arms and hips and legs, twisting the soft tissues is also an essential
foundational bagua neigong practice. See Bagua Skills: Twisting.
Then, as you are presented with new bagua practices in the upcoming modules,
you can first learn them using the technique of turning the soft tissues of your
arms and legs when you are directed to twist them. Then, you can advance to
twisting when you feel you have the capacity to do so.
You will find that the instructions for the warm-up exercises in this module
and the unification exercises in Module 3 contain instructions for twisting your
tissues, but the instructions for straight-line walking and Circle Walking in the
first several modules do not. That is because it is best for you to first explore
turning and then twisting your tissues within the simpler warm-up and
unification exercises.
After you have gained some experience with turning and twisting, instructions
will be given in later modules to begin incorporating twisting into your straightline walking and Circle Walking practices.

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Section 3
What Intermediate
Practitioners Will Learn
Intermediate-level practitioners will receive instruction on:
Lengthening (neigong component #7)
Opening and closing (neigong component #7)
Twisting and spiraling (neigong component #9)
Turning from the central channel (neigong component #13)
Heart-Mind (neigong components #15-#16)
Reverse breathing (neigong component #1)
Moving in and out from your core (neigong component #14).
For each bagua practice presented in the modules, the neigong tecniques most
appropriate for that practice will be discussed.

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Bagua Mastery Program

The Interplay of Opening-Closing


and Lengthening
(Neigong Component #7)
Lengthening and opening-dosing are a matched pair. The intermediate
instructions included in this program are the chi techniques of openingclosing and lengthening that are basic to all chi practices. It is the seamless
combination and integration of these two neigong practices that enables the
shrink-grow methods of bagua and small frame tai chi to fully manifest.
The specific ways in which opening-dosing is practiced includes all bodily joints
and cavities. Lengthening must be practiced in direct coordination with all of the
soft tissues as they relate to the body's yin and yang acupuncture surfaces. Both
are taught within my Marriage of Heaven and Earth core qigong program, which
I encourage you to study in order to learn the specific techniques that will be
referred to in these modules.

To learn these techniques, see the Energy Arts Website, www.energyarts.com,


and locate a Level2 Heaven and Earth Qigong Instructor near you.

Opening-Closing
The I Ching places great emphasis on the essential actions of opening and
closing. Opening (kai in Chinese) means to expand outward from a point toward
a periphery. Closing (he in Chinese) means to collect or condense inward from
the edges of a periphery into a point. Opening-dosing is the essential middle
ground between what can be called the beginning and advanced methods of
bagua and tai chi. Without opening-dosing, the beginning practices cannot reach
their full potential. In all advanced chi practices, opening-dosing is the bedrock
foundation.

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Opening-closing (also open-close) occurs not only within physical tissues, but
also within each of your eight energy bodies. Experientially, comprehending the
qualities of opening-closing is mandatory within the tenets of Taoist meditation
to understand the underlying nature that molds the matrix of manifestation. This
is what causes all yin and yang qualities to change into each other.
Health and martial internal power can be accessed through a detailed and
methodical learning process, which begins with opening-closing the energy of
all joints and bodily cavities. This process requires that you directly open-close
(expand and condense) all of the joints and cavities of the body on demand. This
must be achieved purely through intent alone without using muscular effort or
external movement. Later, the same is physically achieved with the vertebrae of
the spine, bones of the pelvis and plates of the skull.
Although this initially may seem difficult for many to even believe or accept,
masters and genuine advanced practitioners of Taoist qigong and internal
martial arts can easily demonstrate these capabilities on demand. It's possible
for many people to develop this ability with proper instruction and practice.
Over the centuries in China, opening-dosing has been successfully taught and
demonstrated by tens of thousands of people using Taoist qigong exercises that
are specifically designed for this purpose.
In all bagua traditions, whether doing mud or heel-toe walking practiced in a
straight line or in a circle, all parts ideally involve coordinating opening-closing of
the space within all of the joints of the body in each and every step.
Initially, Circle Walking is practiced at a very slow pace, only just slightly
faster than the slow motion typically used in tai chi practice. This is meant to
synchronize the opening-closing of the joints with each step. Ultimately, it is
very important that with each step, the joints, kwa, entire abdomen, other bodily
cavities and spinal vertebrae also simultaneously open-close in a synchronized
manner.

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In relationship to opening-closing, there are basically two different ways


lengthening is done: vertical and center to periphery.

Lengthening
Until the1970s-1980s, stretches of any sophistication were not commonly a part
of Western exercise programs. Fortunately, this idea has finally penetrated the
standard Western paradigm as it did in the Orient millennia ago. Systems with
which the West is familiar, such as dance, gymnastics, external martial arts (for
example, Shoalin kung fu, karate, taekwondo) and Hatha yoga study, systemize
and expand the fine details to take stretching to exceedingly high levels.
Ordinary stretching is based on using weight or some type of leverage pressure
to pull muscle fibers apart, sometimes tensing the muscles and then letting them
go to get a better stretch-sometimes not. Ordinary stretching often involves
a kind of internal struggle inside the practitioner's body until the muscle fibers
"submit" and stretch, usually with significant discomfort or outright pain. As a
secondary (rather than a direct or primary) effect after the stretch is over, your
body and mind may relax. They may not. The spring of the stretches associated
with the ligaments may increase. Or they may not.
The Difference between Lengthening and Ordinary Stretching

The stretching methodology of the exercises mentioned above significantly


contrast to the Taoist lengthening methodology, which is present in the internal
martial arts (bagua, tai chi and hsing-i), qigong and Taoist yoga. Using a distinctly
different approach, lengthening is based on relaxation and let-go rather than
force and control. It is a yin rather than a yang way to stretch.
A Three-part Learning Progression

Stage 1: Lengthening is not based on primarily stretching muscle fibers, which


normally happens as a secondary effect. Instead, its primary methodology is
based on consciously releasing the nerves to enable muscles to naturally release
and stretch without effort.
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27

First, the nerves are completely relaxed. This must be done before any attempt
is made to stretch the muscles and make them longer. Only after the nerves are
released should the body's muscles be asked to stretch as far as they can (within
your seventy percent). This must only be to the point where the relaxation response is fully active and not beyond, where the relaxation response diminishes.
If any signals of tension enter the nerves, thereby creating even only a minor
sense of body resistance, stop.
The initial Taoist methods of lengthening

are commonly learned

in

conjunction with the bending and stretching of the arms and legs. At no point
during lengthening are the muscle fibers of the body pushed, either physically or
with mental force.

Stage 2: In this stage, you learn to consciously activate, strengthen and balance
the chi naturally moving through your body's acupuncture meridians toward (via
your yin meridians) and away from (via your yang meridians) your lower tantien
(see Figure 1.4.1 ). To do this, your body must be sufficiently relaxed and either be
able to feel your chi (ideal) or at least have the sense of nerve flow moving within
your body. Only then can you lengthen your bodily tissues in coordination with
the moving of your chi, either toward or away from the lower tantien.
When you can lengthen this way, you will be able to:
Activate the body surfaces and all the soft tissues within them,
where your yin and yang meridians flow-without any external
physical movement whatsoever.
Activate the soft tissues and nerve flow within a yang or yin
body surface while leaving its corresponding opposite yin or
yang body surface essentially passive. This allows the chi in
the yin or yang meridian to flow most powerfully through the
tissues along its pathway. (This method is different from the
more common method of stretching by contracting one
muscle while releasing another.)

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Bagua Mastery Program

Y;mg

B
Figure 1.4.1
Yin and Yang Meridians

The shaded areas are the body's yin acupuncture meridian surfaces (A) while
the white areas are the body's yang acupuncture meridian surfaces (B).

Although this type of lengthening may sound impossible to pull off, again it most
definitely is possible. However, it can only be done if a deep baseline of muscular
and nerve relaxation and sensitivity is developed to support it.
This lengthening technique causes chi to flow within related acupuncture
meridians in a most unusual way. If yang meridians are stimulated, related
yin meridians are dramatically less so and vice-versa. During practice, this
metaphorically induces a strong regular alternating current to flow within your
acupuncture meridian system using lengthening, and thereby causes whole
body chi circulation to increase.
This constant inward-outward alternation works like a turbine. When the
turbine wheel spins, the first half of each turn (lasting a second or less) drives the
chi more strongly through the yang meridians. In the cycle's second half, chi is
immediately driven more strongly through the yin meridians and vice-versa.
Movement in each half of the cycle creates the internal force needed to yet
more strongly drive the chi in the cycle's other half in a continuous, fluid and
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29

unbroken rhythm (instead of in stop-and-start motions). So, like a turbine


spinning, the longer it spins, the greater the tendency for it to spin faster and
faster unless something interferes with or controls it (like governors in a
machine).
This is one of many reasons all Taoist practices emphasize continuity of physical
movement.

LENGTHENING ALONG THE YANG MERIDIANS


To get an idea of how the turbine analogy works, try this sequence
of instructions:
1. Put both arms out in front of you, thumbs facing vertically
upwards.
2. Just for ease of understanding, lock the elbows of both arms
(something which is never done in bagua or tai chi as it violates
basic rules of body alignments).
3. From your shoulder blades extend your arms fully forward and
keep them there without bending your arm.
4. On the yang (outside) surface ofyour arm, from shoulder to your
fingertips, use your intent to interface with and either activate
its chi (ideal), or at least activate a feeling in your body's nerves to

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>> Now have your partner place their palms on both sides of your
arm. If you are activating a wave in the manner of this method, your
partner will feel clear movement on the outside yang side of your
arm and nothing on the inside (yin side) of your arm. Conversely, if
you haven't quite got it, your partner will fee/little or nothing on the
outside (yang ,side) of your upper and lower arm, palm and fingers. In
this case keep practicing within seventypercent of your current a bit v ...."'"""''-

Stage 3: This stage is unique to Taoist chi arts. In this advanced practice,
you will learn how to lengthen all parts of the body simultaneously as an
integrated whole. In sequential stretching, only a single part or multiple parts
lengthen while others are neglected. So, to lengthen as an integrated unit, you
will gradually expand the total number of yin and yang body surfaces that you
deliberately engage.
Initially, work only on the area of your yin and yang body surfaces where you
can get access to the protective chi of your body (called wei chi in Chinese
medicine). It lies not far beneath your skin. After your awareness opens
sufficiently, you'll gain greater access to the inside of your body and the sense of
moving chi through your wei chi.
Then, in three more stages and depths inside your body, you can repeat the
process until you are internally moving all of the soft tissues on your body's
yin and yang surfaces all the way to the bone. As you penetrate each deeper
layer, more surface layers above it normally become active, alive and pumping
chi through them. You might find you can move their soft tissues more strongly and precisely with significantly less focused effort. Eventually, it will become
effortless.
Lengthening of the physical tissues must now be driven by lengthening and
moving the chi more strongly within your body's left, right and central energy
channels (neigong components #12-13).

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31

As the chi lengthens, it must carry absolutely no iota of a sense of physical force
with it. This lack of force enables the body's deepest anatomical substructures to
unfold like a flower and creates the last bits of natural, possible and useful space
between them. The lack of force also mitigates potential imbalances in these
terribly important micro-spaces.
Bagua and tai chi practitioners usually progressively establish lengthening in
their body by gradually going from one depth to another. At each depth, they
usually:
1. Lengthen the top of their body through their arms, neck and chest areas.
2. Slowly lengthen in their midsection.
3. Carefully lengthen in their pelvis.
4. Lengthen in their legs and finally their feet.
After they activate each progressive section of the body, the lengthening
continues and joins seamlessly with the body parts previously activated. Then,
they begin to work at the next depth within their bodies

IMPORTANT TERMS
Taoist qigong, bagua and tai chi traditionally use certain technical
terms all of which are interrelated. They partially but not fully
mirror each other to varying degrees. Often they are used interchangeably to describe different faces of the same phenomena:
Opening-closing
Shrinking-growing
Bending-stretching
Lengthening
To be more*precise, however, open-close is a subdivision or aspect of
the more e'rimary overarching internal principle of shrinking-growing. Lengthening is a subdivision of open-close. Bend-stretch is

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>>

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Bagua Mastery Program

>>another neigong component that is also a subdivision of shrinking-growing. All Taoist-derived chi schools, especially qigong,
bagua and tai chi, commonly use the terms open-close, bendstretch and lengthening. However, the bagua schools also include
the terms "shrink" and "grow." If we take a ball and condense its
insides and thereby reduce its outer external surface area the ball
can be said to shrink.
Conversely, if we increase the space inside the ball so its
external surface area expands and increases, it can be said to
grow. In shrink-grow, all of the qualities of open -close are present
plus other factors.
For example, in shrink-grow, externally the ball's size or the amount
of air space your physical movements occupy rhythmically increases
and decreases. At the same time, energetically the chi of your
etheric body draws toward your physical skin (closes or shrinks) or
expands away from it into space (opens or grows).
The term open-close is most commonly used if the shrinking and
growing occurs only non-visibly inside the internal anatomical and
energetic structures of the physical body (i.e., inside the ball), but
has minimal external markers. Whereas if the process of shrinking
and growing simultaneously occurs both internally and externally,
the term shrink-grow is more technically appropriate.
If the shrink-grow aspect being considered primarily relates to the
extension and retraction of the arms and legs toward and away
from the torso, the technical term bend (retraction) and stretch
(extension) is more technically appropriate. From the perspective of
purely physical stretching, this type of movement is the ideal
mechanism in bagua and tai chi for stretching the physical tissues
o ~Jbe arms, ~~pecially a~tpe bend-s.tretch movement of the arms

and legs causes the muscles and soft tissues of the entire back to
stretch.
Lengthening is more subtle. It is directly linked:to the bod"ft'S internal
chi movements and is often done as the physi(:al actions at bendstretch occur. Lengthening is often referred to as opening- >>
~

. 'c

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Module 7: Bagua and the Sixteen Neigong

closing of the body's soft tissues. Likewise, from an internal chi


perspective, it always must occur as the body shrinks-grows.
Internal lengthening is virtually invisible to an untrained eye. It is
the way that one can, using pure intent alone, invisibly move the
body's soft tissues in the same direction and along the same body
surfaces as the body's yin and yang acupuncture meridian surfaces.
This then directly activates chi flow through those meridians.
For example, when inward lengthening occurs in the legsregardless whether the leg bends or stretches-the tangible movement of the soft tissues on the inside of the leg begins on the inside
edge of the foot. It travels upward to the knee and continues to the
top of the inside of the thigh as it tracks the body's yin meridians.
Its opposite movement of yang lengthening begins on the side of
the hip, travels down the outside of the thigh, past the knee to the
outside edge of the foot as it tracks the yang meridian chi flow.
I teach the internal techniques of lengthening as do my Level 2
Marriage of Heaven and Earth Qigong Instructors.
The more common, traditional and regular slow-motion styles of
tai chi, such as the Yang or Wu, or styles that have not lost the
internal chi work, are primarily based on externally tiny or invisible
but internally fully present opening-closing action. This is in
contrast to the more dramatic and obvious shrinking-growi ng of
bagua. Most people who observe someone practicing the more
common and regular slow-motion styles of tai chi, usually only see
a slighf"shrinking and growing as the practitioner's arms
continuously come closer together and separate.
Conversely, if you closely look at a master demonstrate a form from
the original Chen style of tai chi, animal styles of hsing-i or bagua,
, jt is quite visible to see dramatic shrinking-gr:qwing. This is
especially true when observing how the size of the master's external
physictJ:,, ~shaP;(~and the energy of th,~!! ethe(lf/ield ~~.em to
"rhythmically a'iternate between growing (opening or expanding)
. and shrinking (closing or consl,ensing}simu/~aneously-externally

<p.,,;;
f%:.
and internally. >>

,
>

~'.

' '~' '%IF

*Jili::mF~

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Bagua Mastery Program

>> I generally uses the term open-close to emphasize what a


student should do internally. In general, to prevent distortions I use
shrink-grow much less. Although it is intellectually invaluable to
comprehend tf'l~. difference between the open-c/o~g and shrin~
grow methods of practice, to accurately implement the practice
methods requires continutous monitoirng bya competentteacher.
Watching a supporting text or video alone won't cutit.
By only reading or hearing the words, there is a tendency for
students t~ exaggerate either the shrink ~~gro~~.,~ ~~~ do them in an
unbalanced way. For example, mayb;, thgy'll1grow,quitg a lot while
:'"> ::-:~~'':j
'?}# :)
,~, \, shrinkin
rJJdlttl
'
.)1, '"

Jj;.l\ '

Twisting and Spiraling


(Neigong Component #9)
Twisting
For an introduction to turning (rotating) and twisting, see the accompanying
document, Bagua Skills: Twisting.
One way to look at the difference between twisting and rotation is by whether the feeling of movement is primarily on the outside surface of the body or
within the deeper inside tissues. For example, in your arm if you feel the elbow
or shoulder joint move, but not the inside tissues nearby, that's rotation . Twisting
penetrates progressively more deeply into all of the soft tissues between the skin
and bone, so they feel like they are being wrung as you might a rubber band or
towel. The deeper the twist goes toward (but definitely not into) the bone, the
stronger the sensation.

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35

SAFETY NOTE:

Twisting into the bone is never practiced in bagua, tai chi, or


hsing-i. Remember to only twist soft tissues and not inside the bones or joints themselves, either when twisting or spiraling. Never twist deeper into your waist or legs
than you can do easily with your arms. In fact, going deeper than superficial twisting
is best done only under the guidance of a master or well-trained instructor.

Spiraling
Chi travels through the human body in spirals not straight lines. Spiraling is
how circularity universally manifests as spirals seamlessly join and continue the
motion between two independent circles.
The spirals of chi that exist within you power and connect to each other through
bodily structures, such as the center of the joints, spinal vertebrae, internal
organs and glands.
The technique of spiraling exponentially escalates twisting. All Taoist energy
arts use spiraling as their central advanced technique for how the arms, legs and
waist twist and rotate. This is equally true for qigong and all internal martial arts,
although they may use different names to describe the same phenomena. For
example, in Chen style tai chi it's called "coiling" or "twisting silk" (chan sz jin in
Chinese); in the Yang and Wu styles of tai chi it's called "turning power" (juan jin);
and in bagua and hsing-i it's called "drilling power" (luo shuen jin).
Some basic assumptions that govern all Taoist chi practices will help you to
better understand spiraling.
Spiraling of chi begins from multiple centers deep within the body. From there,
it connects moving through the layers of the body to other energies that bring it
to the body's periphery. It returns from the periphery to its centers of origination
in unending cycles.

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Bagua Mastery Program

Three examples:
From either your heart or lower tantien.
From around your bones and left and right channels of
energy (neigong component #12).
From around your central channel of energy (neigong
component #13) and bone marrow.
As the spiral moves, so do the physical structures. They both come into being
at the level of matter and the quantum field. Spiraling generates the body's
ability to physically move, either in terms of micro-anatomical movements
(e.g., internal organs, glands and blood vessels) or gross physical, motor
movement, such as Walking the Circle.
When you practice spiraling techniques, you are essentially trying to tie into and
awaken the naturally occurring energy spirals already moving in your body.
There are other examples in nature of spiraling. At the subatomic level, two
protons always circle each other effectively creating spiraling energy. Internal
organs have a tiny (which can be perceived by trained human touch), selfgenerated natural spiraling motion called "motility" by visceral osteopaths.
The DNA helix is essentially a spiral.
When babies first learn how to move, they do so with spiraling motions. While
lying down, they spiral as they shift side to side. When they begin to crawl, they
do not move their hands in a linear fashion, one hand in front of the other, but by
rotating, spiraling and twisting their arms and legs to propel them forward.
Chi constantly spirals up from the Earth and down from the heavens. The
question is not if it's happening, but whether an individual can use (or borrow)
the natural spiraling energies of the universe to enhance the functioning of their
own body, mind and spiritual essence.

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Module 1: Bagua and the Sixteen Neigong

Physical Tissue Motions of Spiraling 1n


Conjunction with Twisting
Here, you will learn how to alternately twist the soft tissues around each joint
in opposite directions to each other in sequential order. Twisting in opposite
directions creates the spiral.
For example, if your shoulder tissues twist outward (including those around your
shoulder blade and your deltoid and latissima dorsal muscles), those around your
elbow simultaneously twist inward. Your upper arm muscles also twist as the
tissues around your wrist and palm yet again twist outward with the muscles of
your forearm. Vice-versa, if your shoulder tissues twist inward, those around your
elbow twist outward and those near your wrist and palm inwards.
Remember to only twist soft tissues and not inside the bones or joints themselves.

Turn from the Central Channel


(Neigong Component # 13)
The best way to originate all waist turning methods in qigong, bagua and tai
chi is to originate the motions from the central channel and not purely from
the muscles of your waist, hips and legs. The relationship between your central
channel and torso is like a cylinder.
There are two basic ways of turning a cylinder, i.e. your torso and waist. You can
turn the outside of the cylinder's circumference, i.e. the beginning method of
turning from your waist, hips and legs. Or, you can turn the cylinder from its
central axis, which runs the length of the cylinder in its exact center, i.e. your
central channel.
Any cylinder (human torso and head) has a top and a bottom and a central core
that runs through the exact middle of the cylinder (your central channel).

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Bagua Mastery Program

Imagine if a thread or tiny rod goes through the middle of the cylinder and is
fused into its center. Imagine that this rod also extends out the top and bottom
of the cylinder (to your arms and legs). If this thread, line or rod (central channel)
is turned, so too must the whole cylinder (torso) follow and turn.
The location of your body's central channel of energy goes from your perineum
through the crown of your head exactly in the middle of your head, neck and
torso in the dead center between the front, back and sides of your body.
At first, the turning of the central channel feels more like a rod inside the center of
your torso. However, with time and progress, its sensation becomes progressively
thinner and lighter. As it becomes thinner the coordination between the turning
of your central channel and torso, your limbs also becomes progressively tighter.
Eventually, it centers in the bone marrow of your legs and arms.
At each stage, you refine the central channel as the source of turning your torso
and limbs. This activates the neigong flows in your body in ever-stronger ways
with seamless effort.

Ideal Goals for Turning


The motto of turning from the central channel is that it must be worked into your
practice slowly and gradually following the seventy percent rule to avoid strain.
When turning from the central channel, the four points must be aligned. Go back
to turning from the waist and hip method if you're not able to maintain the four
points. This will ensure that you do not excessively twist or torque the vertebrae
of your spine, nor cause excessive pressures and pulls to occur at the base of your
neck. You can restrict blood flow to and from your brain if you lose your fourpoints alignments.
Part of this central channel cylinder turning is making sure your feet remain
stable, still and grounded. They should not wiggle or wobble. If they do, turning from the central channel can cause untoward and potentially destabilizing

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Module 1: Bagua and the Sixteen Neigong

39

effects to happen inside your internal organs or joints of your lower body. This
is so because anatomical connections between your legs, pelvis and internal
organs can bind inside your internal organs. If this is the case for you, then turning from the central channel inside your internal organs can negatively pull on all
the physical attachments that go into your pelvis and legs.
Another aspect of central channel turning is that the smaller the bagua circle
walked or the tighter the central channel movement in tai chi, the greater the
pressure will be on and in your internal organs. This is good and bad news.
On the upside: If your body can accommodate it, it's ideal as
this will cause the fluids and natural motions inside of the
internal organs to move about as strongly as possible. The
Earth's spiraling energy, moving within the body, will center
into and nourish your internal organs quite nicely.
On the downside: If the coordination between your waist turning and central channel are poorly integrated, these two forces
can work against each other and thereby pull on the inside of
your pelvis, causing pressure to your lower spine. Not good!
If you're a healthy genetic specimen, then regardless you may be strong enough
to withstand problems. However, if you're not as genetically fit as you think you
are, you can go overboard and hurt yourself. This is the problem all athletes have
in training. The questions are: How much can I train? Am I overtraining?
My heart-felt recommendation is not to throw the dice too often.
In more advanced practices that use the Bagua Dragon Body, it becomes
possible to turn from the central channel and segment the lower, middle and
upper parts of the torso in a way that paradoxically and simultaneously keeps
them connected and unified. However, it requires twisting deep within the inside
of your abdomen and internal organs, which can be rather fierce.
This method is specifically not shown in this text for fear of misunderstanding and someone going off half-cocked and hurting themselves. A competent
instructor, ideally a master, should teach you the Bagua Dragon Body in person.
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Bagua Mastery Program

Heart-Mind
(Neigong Components# 15-# 16)
All motions of chi in bagua and tai chi should originate in and be directed by the
intent of the mind. As discussed in Section 2, in Taoism the level of the mind
deeper than ordinary intent is known by many names, including the"Heart-Mind:'
The Heart-Mind's intent comes from a much more expanded area of human
potential. Although its source is yet unknown to scientists, it is commonly
referred to in Eastern traditions by such names as "mind;' "spirit" and
"consciousness:' Whether its source is the brain or something else is an ageold debate that has raged for thousands of years. In the East and West, the
relationship of matter and spirit has been in question as well as what
distinguishes the conscious from the unconscious mind and if the mind
continues after death.
What can be said is that ordinary intent is partial; the Heart-Mind-if not
complete-is definitely a quantum leap beyond ordinary intent. The HeartMind is a powerful door for becoming conscious of what is going on in the
unconscious mind. It is the place from which "real time" (as it is called in China's
Taoist tradition) or "Fourth time" (as it is called in the Buddhist and Hindu Indian
traditions) arises.
Real or Fourth time can be thought of from two perspectives:
A sense of time beyond human construction that is not past,
present or future, and yet enables a human to function well,
taking into account the functionality of time constraints in
normal life.
A continuous awareness of timelessness where the pressures
of being controlled by time collapse and genuine presence can
arise.

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41

Reverse Breathing
(Neigong Component # 1)
During reverse breathing, your abdomen closes or shrinks on the inhale and
opens or grows on the exhale. This is the opposite of what is practiced in regular
breathing, where your abdomen expands (grows or opens) on the inhale and
condenses (shrinks or closes) on the exhale.
The methods of even basic reverse breathing, however, are far more complex
than just directing which way your belly moves with your inhales and exhales. To
practice reverse breathing, you must become aware of and be able to control the
movement of the soft tissues, joints and cavities of your arms, legs, head, neck
and spine as well as your internal organs.
As discussed in Section 2, classically bagua was intended to be done with reverse
breathing, which included simple to progressively more complete methods. In
bagua, regular Taoist breathing was considered the preliminary rather than main
event.
Reverse breathing has two basic yet complete methods: vertical breathing and
center-to-periphery breathing. These are best not introduced or practiced in
bagua training until you are well into training energy postures or the Single Palm
Change. The two methods of complete reverse breathing will be explained in
later modules as appropriate.

Important Practice Points


Initially, in bagua, opening-closing of the belly should be practiced until you
are capable of reverse breathing effortlessly. It must become hardwired, so that
with each inhale your abdomen shrinks and on each exhale it grows. You don't
concentrate on the inhale-exhale, but rather the shrinking-growing of the
abdomen.

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As noted in Section 2, initially your physical movements should not be


consciously synchronized to your inhales and exhales. It is okay if this naturally
happens, but not if you consciously engineer it by using effort or conscious will.
It can have potentially negative emotional consequences. For the sufficiently
inexperienced, conscious linkage of physical movements with the breath can
potentially and dangerously over stimulate or suppress your emotional energy.
It's fine and in fact recommended to consciously coordinate the mechanical
opening-closing of your abdomen with the opening-closing of your joints and
bodily cavities.

Moving In and Out from Your Core


(Neigong Component# 14)
The concept of moving into and out from your core is initially described in the
warm-up exercises. However, from the larger perspective of Walking the Circle
there are many variations.
From an external perspective, moving from your core is about using your
stomach, lower back muscles and possibly thigh muscles to move. In bagua and
tai chi, moving from your core has a slightly expanded meaning.
Although internally it also involves using your abdominal muscles, it includes
using your lower tantien to physically and energetically cause internally felt,
connected pressures within your body to move you in one of four possible
directions:
Center to periphery. The connected pressures originate from
your lower tantien and move out to your abdomen, then in
sequence to your diaphragm, mid-back, chest, upper back, and
from there simultaneously to your neck and crown of the head
and out to your arms and fingertips. The pressures also move
simultaneously and in coordination with the upper body
pressures from your lower tantien downward through your
pelvis, thighs and calves and through your feet to your toes.
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43

Periphery to center. The connected pressures originate from


your hands, feet and the crown of your head and move to the
lower tantien in stages-the reverse of those of center to
periphery.
Foot to extremities. The connected pressures move from the
floor up to the crown of your head and out to your fingertips.
Extremities to feet. The connected pressures move in reverse
direction from the crown of your head and fingertips down to
the bottom of your feet.
This sense of connected pressure, which derives from the sense of fluids
moving within your body, is different from how most people normally feel
muscles moving. Few people can do it except super athletes who train to feel all
their muscles moving at once.
The process is similar to how water pressure can move within a balloon.

Connected Pressure
Take a balloon and fill it close to the top with water, tie it off and hold its top and
bottom steady. Next, squeeze the water in it as your hand gradually inches up the
balloon. In this way, you can feel the pressure of the water changing inside the
balloon. This pressure change will mimic the feeling of moving from your core in
the four previous ways just mentioned and is usually experienced in two basic
ways.
As if the inside of your body is a big boa constrictor digesting
a meal (the pressure itself) that relentlessly moves through it
(from the bottom to the top of the water balloon).
As if giving even the slightest squeeze to the bottom of the
balloon you can feel the pressure simultaneously increase
within the entire remainder of the balloon.
Remember that although this discussion is about squeezing a balloon in order
to successfully replicate the feeling inside your body, you can't get this feeling
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Bagua Mastery Program

in your body by squeezing and contracting your muscles in a series of separated


undulations. Instead, the inside of your body must feel as though it is one connected piece through which the internal water flows in the previous four ways:
center to the periphery; periphery to the center; feet to your head and hands; or
head and hands to your feet.
Initially, your goal with any bagua practice should be to coordinate the
continuous moving into and out of your core with any bend-stretch (retractionextension) movements of your arms and legs.
Then, something else occurs: After a sufficiently long developmental period, this
internal pressure and moving into and out of your core fuses into a continuous,
unbroken presence in your conscious mind. Within that continuous, very present
and still awareness, the internal movement from your core continues to move
in-out.
This basic principle incorporates using all functions of your energy channels. It is
important to recognize that the flow of chi within every energy channel within
you goes in both directions-regardless of the path and direction the chi travels.
Signals travel seamlessly in both directions, similar to speaking on a telephone or
using wireless devices. Over time, the connecting awareness inside you will easily
and seamlessly allow multiple energetic actions simultaneously without strain.

For tai chi practitioners, this ingredient is another of the subtle meanings from an
important statement in the Tai Chi Classics about internal power: From posture to
posture [movement to movement] the internal energy is unbroken.

Create an Elastic Body and Mind


At the most simple level, intermediate bagua and tai chi neigong techniques are
ultimately about creating two qualities within a human being's life. Physically, an
elastic body enables you to feel completely physically comfortable within your
own skin. Likewise, creating an open, clear and awake mind capable of great
elasticity at the third through sixth energy bodies (see the Bagua and Tai Chi book
for details on the eight energy bodies) is fundamental to how the principles of
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Module 1: Bagua and the Sixteen Neigong

45

the I Ching are realistically downloaded into a human being's psyche or inner life.
Looking at elasticity from an anatomical perspective, fascia, tendons and
ligaments are central to creating a physically elastic body. The human body is not
held up by bones, but rather by a series of ligaments, many of which are actually
stronger than bones. What basically connects your foot and legs to your pelvis,
belly, head, neck and fingertips is either a series of interconnecting ligaments or
fascia that connect to other ligaments and fascia.
Part of creating an elastic body is getting all the body's fascia to not only move
freely and easily, but incredibly elastic like a great rubber band moving (lengthening in and out). This is a quality all babies have and it's incredible to observe.
People love to playfully pull their hands, arms and legs and watch them shrink
back like a rubber band. All Taoist chi practices seek to recreate this quality inside
a human being.
Elasticity enables significantly refined movement of the joints, spine and
internal organs. The constant pulling and releasing of ligaments inside the body
is what causes the natural and healthy movement of internal organs. When
combined with physical and energetic twisting and spiraling movements in
bagua, this elasticity causes the joints to constantly and smoothly, grow and
shrink (open-close) the space and synovial fluid inside the joints.
Elasticity positively affects and moves all the associated tissue related to making
the joints strong and keeping them flexible. Greater body elasticity also keeps
the synovial fluid inside joints moving. When the joints lose elasticity, you can get
negative problems, such as:
Arthritis.
Becoming prone to injuries because the joints have lost
flexibility or strength.
Ligaments harden, overstretch or get pulled out of alignment.
Simply put, all of the problems of aging can be accelerated-even for people as
young as their teens-as the body loses its elastic quality.
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