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Anatomy 101


The Eight Silk Movements

The following section will describe eight traditional Chinese stretching exercises designed to be used with tai chi exercises. These exercises, when done properly, are good for general good health and physical well-being. They generate the flow of chi throughout the body promoting good blood circulation while simultaneously strengthening and stretching the muscles bones and tendons of the body.

1. Upward Hand Stretch (Holding Up The Sky).

Slowly raise both hands, palms facing upward, over the head Stretch all the way up lifting the heels off the ground. Breathe in as the hands are raised to "hold up the sky." Hold the breath for as long as you comfortably can. (Do not strain!) Slowly lower both arms as you breathe out. Lower both heels and return to a standing position with hands relaxed at the sides. Watch your balance!

Physical Effects: Balance, stimulates circulation, releases tension, relaxes the body.

2. Shooting The Arrow.

Sit in a horse stance. Cross the arms in front of the chest. As you breathe in, push out with one hand while pulling back the other as though shooting with a bow and arrow. Repeat the procedure for both sides. Breath in when pulling back breathe out when returning to the center.

Physical Effects: Strengthens the muscles of the arms abdomen, back and legs. Promotes overall good health and vitality.


3.One-Arm Lift.

Raise the right arm over the head as you inhale while simultaneously "pressing" down with the left hand. Lower the right arm to the standing position as you exhale. Repeat this procedure, alternating between left and right sides.

Physical Effects: Increases blood circulation, strengthens waist muscles.


4. Looking Back Neck Stretch.

With both hands at your side turn the head to one side following with eyes to look behind you. Keep the trunk of the body straight. Repeat this head turning routine for both sides. Breathe in when turning, breathe out when returning.

Physical Effects: Relieves fatigue in the neck muscles, releases tension.

5. Rotate Body In A Circle.

Sit in a horse stance and rotate the upper body to the left Lean the upper body to the left. Look to the right. Keep the lower body straight. Breathe in and out deeply and slowly. Do the same to the other side.

Physical Effects: Increases blood circulation and strengthens muscles of the abdomen and back.

6. Lifting Up The Heels.

With both hands at your sides hold the head up high and lift the heels off the ground as you inhale. Remain stable using the toes for balance. Lower the heels back to the ground as you exhale. Repeat the procedure breathing in when lifting the heels and breathing out when lowering them.

Physical Effects: Increases circulation, relaxes the body and relieves mental tension.

7. Punching From Horse Stance.

While sitting in a horse stance, cross the arms in front of the chest. Tighten the fists and alternately punch slowly to each side. Begin by breathing in, holding it, and pushing out with one hand while breathing out. This should look like pulling a bow. Hold the fist steady as you breathe in again. Do the same to the other side.

Physical Effects: Increases power in punching, in the fists themselves and increases the circulation to strengthen the heart.

8. Holding The Toes.

From standing position, slowly bend forward from the waist. Try to hold your toes with each hand while keeping the knees straight. If you cannot reach your toes simply let you arms hanng down, letting them reach as close to the floor as possible. Maintain normal breathing.

Physical Effects: Strengthens muscles in the abdomen and the back. Increases circulation and relaxes the body.


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Copyright 1997 Center for Holistic Instruction, PLLC. All rights reserved.
Revised: July 31, 2015.