Explore the 8 Brocades of Qigong

Relax your mind and body in this eight-part movement series.


Practicing qigong in a park.

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For thousands of years, people have practiced the therapeutic exercise known as qigong. This ancient Chinese art combines breathwork with movement. The deep breathing with gentle, smooth movements makes qigong an ideal exercise for all ages. 

According to a blog on Qigong Awareness, the most famous qigong movement series, the eight brocades or Ba Duan Jin, dates back nearly 1,000 years to the Song Dynasty of China! Each of the eight movements stimulate the body’s internal energy force, called qi (pronounced chee), in specific ways. Support your health by strengthening the body and calming the mind as you cultivate balance, strength, and stillness with the brocades of qigong

Palms Raised to Heaven

Just as the name suggests, this movement involves slowly raising the hands with palms to the sky. According to the website Earth Balance Tai Chi, this posture gets qi energy moving throughout your body. It helps to stabilize your spine, relax stiff muscles, and regulate blood flow. 

The palms raised movement gets qui energy moving.

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Drawing the Bow

This movement mimics an archer’s action of pulling back on a bow. It targets the flexibility of the upper body, according to White Crane Online. Maintain an upright spine and create tension as you pull your arms to “draw the bow.” You’ll feel the sensation of qi energy flow, invigorating your liver and lungs.

Woman performing the drawing the bow brocade.

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Separating Heaven and Earth

According to White Tiger Qigong, this brocade supports the flow of qi and releases energy blockages. You simultaneously connect with the grounding force of the earth as well as the expansive energy of heaven. To begin, face forward as you lift and press one palm to the sky, the opposite to the earth. Bring your arms toward the center of your body and repeat the movement on the opposite sides.

Practicing qigong by the sea.

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The Wise Owl Gazes Backward

This simple, yet effective, movement stretches your neck. According to the website of the  Shaolin Temple Overseas, even this small stretch can help undo everyday damage from your routine, like sitting or laying down too long. Gently twisting the spinal cord to each side balances energy in the body and releases tension. 

Stand with your feet together and closed fists resting on your hips. Extend your arms away from the body at a 45-degree angle with palms facing forward and fingers spread apart. Then, turn your head to the left and look as far back as possible. Repeat on the opposite side. 

Instructor showing a brocade.

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Shake the Head and Swing Tail

Loosen up the body and get your qi flowing with this brocade. According to Earth Balance Tai Chi, the shake the head and swing the tail movement helps support a healthy heart and lungs. This movement also helps to remove excess energy from the heart. Enter a squat position as you lean toward the right knee and place your hands on your thighs. Twist to glance backward. Then repeat on the opposite side.

Child in the horse movement.

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Punching with Angry Eyes

Release anger and feel at ease with this brocade, according to the Space to Relax website, This movement helps release excess tension and supports healthy liver function. Stand with legs apart. Start with arms pulled back and fists against your hips. Then slowly punch one fist forward while drawing the other arm inward. Repeat on the opposite side. 

This punching movement helps to release tension.

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Press the Earth, Touch the Sky

According to Crossing Back to Health, this stretching movement lengthens your muscles and helps support your kidneys.To practice this brocade, stand with arms by your side. Inhale while raising your hands above your head and arching your back. Learn forward and touch your toes.  Hold for a count of three. Exhale steadily while reversing the movement back to standing

Completing the press the earth, touch the sky  brocade.

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Lifting Up the Heels

Last but not least, this subtle stretch strengthens your calves, legs, achilles tendons, and spine, according to Earth Balance Tai Chi. Stand with your feet together. Keep your core and thighs engaged as you raise your heels. Then gently lower to the ground. 

Woman standing in the last brocade,

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