Warrior Practise: Dragon & Tiger Prt 1

People are born soft and supple. Yet they die hard and rigid. All things, the plants and trees are born soft and tender, and die withered and dry. Thus the hard and rigid are companions of death. The soft and supple are companions of life. (Laozi 76)

Suitable for any age or fitness level, Dragon and Tiger is a sophisticated Qigong set that is 1,500 years old. In China, Dragon and Tiger is used to treat cancer and other degenerative diseases and to reduce the effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Millions practice it to relieve tension, work better and improve their martial arts.

D&T is often called meridian-line Qigong, and in seven simple movements teaches you to open up and balance the so called eight extraordinary meridians, which are wellsprings for the rest of your meridian system and internal chemistry. Dragon and Tiger is a soft, simple internal exercise set that works a lot with your wei qi – also known as your “aura” – and with how you clean out energy that has become stuck in your system. This will be of particular importance for you if you have a profession that deals with people all the time, as you get more energetic junk projected into your system on a daily basis. It will of course be of even higher importance to you if you work in medicare, as your system will have to deal with sick and upset people around you every day and are recovering or dealing with illness and internal dis-ease.

The classical version of learning exercise within traditional Internal Arts (Qigong) is to teach slowly, step by step, in careful layers tailored to the individual student or group, over long periods of time. The view is that the students/clients will practice the rest of, or majority of his or her life anyway, so there´s really no rush. Very few teachers today are trained this way, but it has been used and tested over many millennia and remains the method that is most effective and safe.

Internal Exercise training puts more pressure and focus on the student to use their own intelligence and knowledge in how to layer and digest the training. This means that you have two choices: practice the cool stuff you thought was fun at the workshop – or practice so that your training slowly grows and flowers and lasts the rest of your life. Nobody can make the choice for you; choose which intention you want to have. Keep in mind that only choice number two will give you the deepest, most effective and safe way to increase your health. Choice number one is “cool” for at least a short time, and after that most people quit.

Our body systems know, without us being able to verbalize it, when it´s being tricked into eating only candy; our body and mind knows that this is not real food that truly satisfies our hunger.

What is Qigong & What is Neigong

‘Qi’ (or ‘Chi’) is the Chinese word for ‘energy’ or ‘life force. The Yoga tradition uses the word ‘Prana’. It is what differentiates a living body from a dead one. The modern term ‘Qi-Gong’, meaning ‘energy work,’ is used to cover all forms of Eastern energy exercise, however, there are actually two distinct forms of such exercise:

Qigong which starts outside the body and works inwards.

Neigong which starts inside the body and works outwards.

Although Qigong (pronounced ‘chee-gong’) is an old term, it has only come into general use over the last fifty years or so. In that time it has come to be used as the general designation for all energy practices. However, when used as a technical term it refers to those exercises which affect the energy meridians on the surface of the body and through these affect the energy deep inside the body. Qigong uses the breath and internal body control to move the Qi, and activates the energy lines of the body.

Neigong (pronounced ‘nay-gong’), meaning ‘internal work’, is an ancient term (over three thousand years old) for those practices that are the original source of all exercises that are today covered by the general term Qigong. It focuses on the deepest energy channels, which then open and strengthen all the meridians of the body. In Neigong there is emphasis on the mental quality of practice, settling the heart and mind and very deep levels of body control. This results in many energy channels being activated simultaneously.

Strictly speaking, everything I teach is Neigong as it can be incorporated into most if not all Qigong systems once certain aspects of the practice have been mastered.

How Qigong and Neigong differ from Western forms of exercise

The Internal Arts of Qigong (Neigong in Ancient times) develop the ability to use extraordinary levels of internal body control to master and enhance the flow of your life force. Unlike western exercises, Qigong and Neigong do not focus primarily on muscles. They are much more concerned with the nerves (nervous system) and blood flow (circulatory system) and in particular, the health of the internal organs, connective tissue and bone. Qigong and Neigong practices are concerned with longevity and a life free from disease. The only attainment that is talked about in Qigong is to practice so that we live a life and die not from ill health or disease but naturally. This is indeed a high attainment in our current culture.

The Real Skill – Using Mindfulness & Attaining Whole-Body Awareness

Another characteristic of the internal arts such as Qigong, Taichi, Xingyi (Shing-Yee) and Bagua§ (Baa-gwa) is that they fully involve the mind. They are about ‘making the body conscious’ and waking up to your Internal Landscape. This could not be further from the mindlessness of western exercise when consider the joggers you see wired into i-pods, or people on a treadmill watching television. One of the main benefits of being mindful of what you are doing is that it is much more interesting. The more you do Qigong and Neigong the more you find, and the more subtle your awareness of your body and mind becomes. People rarely stop qigong and neigong because they find them boring. The ability to go into your body makes it much less likely that you will hurt yourself, as you will be able to listen more carefully to your body. This ability also gives you an early warning system if something does begin to go wrong inside. The earlier you catch something the less of a problem it is. How many people do you know could feel dis-ease in the body before it was too late? The question to ask is, why not? How is it that we cannot feel inside our body and become surprised by ill health?

Qigong and Neigong also develop the ability to focus your attention inside and outside of yourself for long periods of time without becoming tired or distracted. An important aspect of longevity practices, from the Daoist point of view, is that they keep your mind clear and present right up to your last day. Living well is much more important than simply living a long time.

The Benefits of Dragon & Tiger Qigong

As far as we know, these Internal exercises are rooted in Daoism and Buddhism, and are an easy and complete Qigong to learn, and teaches the practitioner to recognize and cultivate Qi, or Prana or life energy. Each of its seven movements targets a specific TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) organ system or Qigong/Internal energy pathway. On a physical level, the movements stretch muscles and tendons and mobilize joints to release tension, and relieve pain.

For health:

In China, Dragon & Tiger is known for its powerful preventative and healing effects for cancer, and for mitigating the effects of radiation and chemotherapy. More generally it protects against and speeds up the recovery time from many illnesses.

For Healers:

Techniques from this highly effective qigong system have been applied in Qigong Tui Na bodywork for centuries in China to heal others energetically by clearing blockages in the energy aura.

For those in the medical and healing professions Dragon & Tiger is an excellent way to understand how medical qigong works, and it is especially beneficial to their own health because of its protective and clearing effects.

The beauty of this practice lies in its simplicity, the flexibility and flow it develops inside you, and the speed with which it opens and releases your neck, shoulders, arms, hips, legs and spine whilst smoothing and strengthening your energy.

The Nervous System

The nerves are one of the main links between the body and the mind and they are one of the main conduits of energy in the body. The soft continuous movements of qigong and neigong gently release the nervous system. This is even quite different from yoga, which uses strong stretches to lengthen body tissue. Such strong stretching does not release the nervous system. You can have a strong, flexible body and still be tense – as the story of the man in the suitcase.

By releasing the nervous system the body can let go of its habitual tension. The more the body is free of tension the easier it is for blood, lymph and energy to move around the body, and the more the joints and cavities of the body can open up. Most joint pain comes from a lack of space in the joints. Releasing the nervous system also improves your coordination and reflexes, and helps to calm the mind.

The Circulatory System

Along with the nerves, the fluids of the body are the other primary conduits of energy in the body. The stronger your fluid flow is (including blood, lymph, synovial, interstitial and cerebral spinal flow), the stronger your energy and vitality.

The western view of the circulatory system tends to focus on the heart. This involves raising the heart rate during exercise in order to keep the heart strong. In the internal arts the focus is on the entire circulatory system. Their gentle twisting and pulsing movements are designed to keep all of the blood vessels soft, springy and open, which allow the blood to flow more easily. Twisting the tissues and opening and closing actions (of the joints, cavities, blood vessels etc.) move the body fluids through the vessels. This means that the heart does not have to do all of the work and does not have to strain. The heart along with all the other internal organs and the spine are also kept healthy by the gentle massage they get from Breathing techniques.

In PART 2 we will look at the most effective way of training Dragon and Tiger Qigong.