How many Chi Kung forms are there?
Chi Kung practices are divided into two categories: active and stationary (passive), of which may involve either standing or sitting. (There is even a walking method.) Since ancient times, thousands of different forms have been passed down to successive generations, and presently there are about 100 popular styles. Variations gave arisen on occasion because China encompasses several different cultural traditions: however, the principles and effectiveness of all Chi Kung forms have remained the same. You do not have to learn all of the 100 different approaches or any variations to receive their benefits.
What are the differences between the stationary and active forms of Chi Kung?
Stationary forms are like passive meditations in that the body does not move, just as all thought ceases and one’s awareness is turned inward during meditation. Stationary Chi Kung can be practiced while sitting, lying down, or standing. By using the breath and the combined power of the mind and the eyes, Chi can be guided through specific pathways as you focus on the body’s energy centers. The principle is that while the body remains stationary there is movement within. In the stillness one can concentrate more effectively, and it becomes easier to feel, activate, and increase the life force. Stationary exercises can also provide a foundation for the active practices because they train the mind to remain focused as the body moves.
Active Chi Kung practices include motion of body and limbs, either from a seated position as the hands move, or from a standing position as both hands and legs move. The active or moving stage utilizes the breath in conjunction with each motion as the mind calmly focuses on the energy centers. The principle here is the opposite of the stationary exercises because while the body is moving there is stillness within. This helps to increase the flow of Chi, blood, and lymph while exercising the joints, tendons, and muscles. The movements can be slow, fast, smooth, or forceful.
How can Chi Kung help us to achieve a balance between the Yin and Yang energies within our bodies?
By learning to balance our active and stationary Chi Kung exercises we can also balance our Yin and Yang energies. As in the Microcosmic Orbit meditation, start with spinal cord breathing, which activates the spinal cord and all the energy pumps in the body. Follow this with all of the rocking exercises of the spine and the limbs. Begin abdominal breathing, spiral the energy in the abdomen, and massage the kidneys. Next practice Tai Chi, Iron Shirt, Cosmic Chi Kung, Five Fingers Kung Fu, etc.. These all constitute the active part of practice. Be still, rest, and become aware of the energy. Gather, condense, and refine this Chi at the navel and move it into the Microcosmic Orbit. (At some point during the meditation you may use some of the previous body movements to help activate the Chi flow.) This is one version of a stationary (or passive) exercise that can help to balance the Yin and Yang within us.