This exercise of qi gong focuses on exercising the lower body, particularly the legs. The bouncing motion used will greatly strengthen the thighs and calves as the body weight is lifted up and down. The up and down motion also requires the hips, abdomen and lower back to exert effort. Over time, performing this exercise will greatly strengthen and tone the calf muscles, giving them excellent definition.
Plus, the Achilles tendon is stretched out, helping to improve flexibility and mobility in the feet and ankle, which are also put to work in performing this exercise. If you feel that you need additional resistance, you can add ankle weights to the legs. The exercise will also stretch and lengthen the spine, helping to tone and relax the back muscles. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this exercise is believed to activate the body’s natural immune system defenses so that many diseases are removed from the body.
From the starting position, called ‘wu ji,’ lift and move the right foot forward so that it rests about one foot ahead of the left foot. Do not put the right foot flat upon the floor – instead, put the toes on the floor, the heel lifted up off of the floor. However, don’t put all of your body weight on the right foot, but keep it on the left foot. Make sure that your left knee remains bent. At this point, the arms should be placed next to the hips and the hands should be flexed at the wrist so that the palms are facing down.
Gently bend both of your knees, moving your body down. Don’t bend at the waist, but simply bend the knees so that the entire body is shifted downwards. Press the palms down as if you are trying to push them to the floor. The key to the exercise is that as the body moves down, centered over the left leg, the heel of the right foot lifts up off of the ground. Then, as you slowly straighten back up, the heel of the right foot moves back to the ground. The left foot should be kept flat on the floor during this motion.
You will feel a great deal of stretching in your front calf muscle and thigh muscle, and your back leg will be working in its entirety in order to hold your balance during the exercise. Control your breathing so that you are inhaling as you move the body up and exhaling as you move the body down.
This position can be rather strenuous, so if you can’t do the up and down movement at first, start by simply keep your weight on your back leg and flex the forward heel upwards and downwards. You will still feel a significant stretch in your calf. As you grow stronger, you may then try to add the up and down movement.
The movement will deepen as you improve, but be sure that you don’t bend your back leg too far. Your left knee should not be bent so that it extends past your toes. After eight repetitions of the stretch, return to the starting position. Then start on the left side by extending your left foot forwards and repeating the series of stretches.
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