How to transform stress into vitality using a powerful secret of the Shaolin monks

In ancient China, the Shaolin monks were not the powerful martial artists we know and admire today. They led a quiet lifestyle, slouched over religious texts and prayed for many hours and suffered from poor posture, backaches, tight shoulders, and neck pain. They were very kind and gentle, and this left them vulnerable to attack from marauding gangs and invading armies.

The legend says that Buddhist monk Bodhidharma travelled to China from India around 5th century. He brought his teachings to the monks of the Shaolin Temple, transforming them into powerful martial artists through techniques such as Yi Jin Jing and Iron Shirt Qigong. No longer were they vulnerable to attack, they could defend the temple with grace and power and so began the legend of the Shaolin monks.

What is Yi Jin Jing?

Bodhidharma is credited with developing the practise of Yi Jin Jing. Alongside Iron Shirt Qigong, it's a style of Qigong that helped transform the Shaolin Monks into mighty humans capable of incredible feats of strength and kindness. Through these techniques they built up their protective energy (Wei Chi), which increased their resiliency both physically and emotionally to enable them to defeat armies of thousands.

Yi Jin Jing is a set of moves combined with specific breathing patterns that works on infusing soft tissue, including ligaments, tendons, fascia, and bone marrow with a specific kind of energy, or Qi. Yi Jin Jing works both on building strength, flexibility and resiliency at a physical level, and at an emotional level building confidence and compassion. 

Yi Jin Jing

Yi Jin Jing Qigong set

Unlike Western fitness exercises which tend to be very yang in nature - such as endurance sports like running and cycling, weight lifting and even cross fit, Yi Jin Jing brings great transformation through a combination of gentle stretches and breathing techniques - a much more yin style of practise. This makes it suitable for people of all walks of life and fitness levels. 

I recently had the great pleasure to learn the Yi Jin Jing style of Qigong from legendary master Robert Peng. Robert studied directly with master Xiao Yao (his name translates as "free flowing"). Xiao Yao was a very advanced monk who spent his life training at the Jiuyi Temple in China. During the cultural revolution Jiuyi temple was shut down so it could be used as an administration center by local authorities. Xiao Yao and the other monks had to leave the temple.

Xiao Yao secured a job as a humble boiler room attendant at a resort within the city of Xiangtan. It was there, as he quietly stoked the boiler, that 8 year old Robert Peng found his master. Robert was supposed to be recovering at home from illness, but one day when he was tired of being stuck at home, he snuck out of the house. Robert found his way to the resort (which was near his house), and the boiler room - where he met Xiao Yao. After about a month of Robert sneaking out of the house to visit Xiao Yao, he asked if Robert would like learn martial arts. And so they began.

Legendary Qigong master Xiao Yao

How can Yi Jin Jing help in modern times?

Luckily for us, it is possible to benefit from these ancient Qigong practises, in the context of our western lives. It is not necessary to devote a lifetime to full time martial arts training to benefit from the powerful preventative medicine of Yi Jin Jing. By regularly practising as often as you can, even for as little as 20 minutes a day, you can prevent stiffness and tightness and increase strength and resilience - both physically and mentally.
There are 14 moves in the set, which work on 12 specific areas of the body, and the corresponding emotion associated with those organs according to Traditional Chinese Medicine.
  • Lungs - transform grief into kindness
  • Large intestine - transform stagnation into relief
  • Stomach - transform irritability into satisfaction
  • Spleen - transform worry into confidence
  • Heart - transform frenzy into joy
  • Small intestine - transform uncertainty into clarity
  • Urinary bladder - transform jealousy into progress
  • Kidney - transform fear into caution
  • Pericardium - transform defensiveness into protection
  • San Jiao or Triple Warmer - transform fragmentation into cohesion
  • Gall bladder - transform timidity into courage
  • Liver - transform anger into enthusiasm

So while we may not face attacks from invading armies nowadays we can take the ancient practice and make it relevant for our modern lives. We can use these techniques to ward off stress, empower ourselves and tune into the world around us. 

In my Qigong for Stress Relief - Live Online class, we weave in these ancient techniques to bring about a sense of calm and peacefulness. Actively letting go of stress and tension, inviting a sense of being grounded, centred and full of joy. 

You can register for Qigong for Stress Relief - Live Online here, or check out Bliss Calm Qigong on Youtube - don't forget to subscribe to get notified when the latest content is available.

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