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Chi Exercises for Health and Rejuvenation

by Peter Chin Kean Choy(more info)

listed in chi energy martial arts, originally published in issue 18 - March 1997


As far back as 2690 B.C., according to Chinese historians, before the era of acupuncture, Buddhism and martial arts, the study of Chi was embodied in a Chinese natural science, called Tao – the Way of Nature. Chinese physicians applied their understanding of Nature to the maintenance of health and the cure of illness.

They studied the balance of Yin and Yang, the opposite forces in Nature – shadow and light, negative and positive, hard and soft, Summer and Winter, fire and water, Spring and Autumn, and Wood and Metal. The Taoists through Chi meditation and exercises discovered Chi energy links with the internal organs.

The Chi exercises were about the practice of harmonising Nature's 5 Elements, the three Chi Treasures of Nature (Earth Chi, Human Chi and Heavenly Chi) and the four seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter). The underlying purpose is to learn how to generate, conserve, and channel Chi for health and longevity. Chi Exercises fell into two main categories – Chi Kung and Tai-Chi. The study of the secrets of rejuvenation and healing was called Chi Kung. The element of water, for example, motivated early practitioners to formulate their understanding of Tai-Chi, which means The River of Energy which unites Yin and Yang into a dance and flows into the Sea of Energy.

The practice of Tai-Chi Exercises opens up the gates and meridian channels of energy in the body, helps relax the muscles, ligaments and regulates the blood circulation.

The Chi Kung exercises help to generate, channel, conserve, store and direct the energy into the body for achieving optimum health.

There are 15 principles that have been found helpful for learning Tai-Chi and Chi Kung properly. They are more than a mere prescription for practising the exercises correctly. The principles are also guidelines towards a healthier lifestyle and help to achieve a more peaceful and fulfilling state of being.

Chi Principle 1

"It's OK to let go"

To get the most out of learning Chi Exercises, first you need to learn how to LET GO. You can practise this by feeling your emotional, physical and mental blockages like ice blocks which can melt with the help of Chi.

Before starting the practice, learn how to loosen and open up the joints, muscles and ligaments around your shoulders, elbows, and wrists. Centre your awareness in your (tan-tien) belly centre. The aim is to help your mind let go and realise that to understand what Chi is, you need to become Chi Energy. Problems need solutions. Learning how to dissolve the tensed and stressed mind into the energy is the best way to get into a receptive state to perceive the "solution".

Chi Principle 2

"Embrace the Negative/Yin and Positive/Yang in you"

As water embraces fire and can transform into steam power, the YIN/NEGATIVE AND YANG/POSITIVE within can help us find a THIRD TAOIST CREATIVE POSSIBILITY of appropriate wise action. On a physical level, this creative tension has to be distributed evenly and smoothly as the body goes through the Tai-Chi and Chi Kung movements.

Chi Principle 3

"Listen to your heart-beats and breathing"

To do Chi exercises correctly, it is helpful to learn how to listen to your heart-beats and your breathing. Put all your heart and guts into every movement. You become like water evaporating. Feet a soft, warm and velvet-like energy around you. On an emotional level, it is a non-judgmental and accepting healing attitude.

Some Chinese scholars call this state, Wu-Chi. It describes an experience of an inner black hole. It is a paradoxical experience of feeling alone and fullness at the same time.

Chi Principle 4

"Coordinate movements from your Tan-Tien (Belly Centre)"

Be consistent and smooth in your movements. Your waist coordinates the limbs like an axle turning a wheel. As the winds blow and seas ebb and flow in Nature, coordinate the breath with the circular downward/upward movements of your Tai-Chi and Chi Kung Exercises.

Water which evaporates falls back down as rain into rivers and seas. These exercises introduce a cyclic experience of oneness with nature.

Chi Principle 5

"Meditate on stillness in motion."

When there is no wind, a tree may seem very still but beneath it are roots moving slowly and steadily to draw nutrients to feed its trunk, branches and leaves. Tai-Chi and Chi Kung Exercises create an awareness of Chi energy from the feet upwards through the waist and limbs. With proper guidance and regular practice, you can draw Chi energy into the body through the meridian lines. The long-term results are lasting fruits of peace and plenitude.

Chi Principle 6

"Be effortless. Flow with life and life flows with you."

The Tai-Chi and Chi Kung exercises are graceful and effortless. It is like a swimmer swimming effortlessly and becoming one with the fluidity of the water.

There is a sense of freedom as you trust in Nature's effortless way of transforming tensions into harmonious situations. If you try too hard to do the exercises, it is like trying to force a solution upon a problem. If we freeze water in order to get boiling water, we end up with ice-cubes instead of hot water to make a cup of tea! Relax and allow the body to learn through cognitive perception.

Chi Principle 7

"Enjoy the Art of Being and feel grateful for every little step of progress you make."

Sometimes, we look too hard for signs of progress and miss out the little successful steps already made. For example, if you slow down to look for it, you might notice that your palms feel more Chi energy when the day before you felt it only in your fingers.

This is because you have relaxed more and become more receptive to your hands. Every successful step is made up of many little steps. A grateful attitude also encourages chi flow in the body's immune and nervous systems.

Often whenever a problem arises, asking, "What are we going to DO about it?" may be untimely when everyone involved has not been properly heard and given a say in the matter. When you are ill, the wisest way to heal yourself may come about after learning how to be with the situation as it is. Then, you consult the experts and understand clearly for what it is, before doing anything about it.

This is the Tai-Chi and Chi Kung way, balancing the Being/Yin with the Doing/Yang principles first before looking for the creative solution. Tai-Chi and Chi Kung exercises can reinforce the creative human potential.

Chi Principle 8

"Become a Fountain of Smiling Chi."

There are different depths in the study and experience of Chi energy. Smiling to your internal organs is a very essential part of all successful chi healing experiences. Like a deep sea diver finding treasures, the Chi dancer dives into the sea of Chi and discovers an endless fountain of youthful vital force and joy.

Rather than simply moving from the muscles and ligaments, the practitioners can also experience this life giving energy in the bone marrow and let even the bones smile! It aids the growth of new white cells and strengthens the immune system and nervous system.

Chi Principle 9

"Transform stress and conserve Chi energy in your internal organs"

Do the exercises with the intention of conserving Chi energy in your body. Learn how to draw up the earth chi and blend with the human chi and heavenly chi in your Chi Kung movements.

An oyster forms a pearl from a foreign particle that gets under its shell and sets up a source of irritation. The oyster's defensive mechanism surrounds the particle with nacre (mother-of-pearl) to remove the irritation and isolate the particle from the system. Similarly, Tai-Chi and Chi Kung practitioners transform tensed and unwell situations into a pear-like force of goodness and health.

The Chi energy together with a balanced diet can rejuvenate the liver, gall bladder, heart, small intestines, spleen, stomach, lungs, large intestines, kidneys and bladder.

Chi Principle 10

"Use the Chi energy to uplift and use the spiral movements to ground yourself."

Just as the Chi energy can ascend, it can descend. Like sunlight combining with rain to bring life to the earth, Tai-Chi and Chi Kung exercises teach us how to be receptive to the highest aspirations and feel rooted at the same time.

When the palms for example are floating down to the ground, it is unnatural that they are stiff and fall down in a straight line. The Tai-Chi Chuan Classics encourages us to find the curve in the straight line. This is in accordance with Nature's law of gravity. There is a natural way that the palm can fall in a slightly zig-zag and spiral way. This encourages the body to be more receptive to the fluidic state which is so essential for Chi energy to be present.

Chi Principle 11

"Use the Chi to purify and transport vitality to any part of the body that needs it."

The fact that the body is made up of more than 70% of fluids, enables the practitioner to connect to the chi energy easily. Just as water is a perfect conductor for electricity, the consciousness of being fluidic in the blood circulatory system is a perfect conductor for Chi energy.

In certain Chi Kung exercises, you also learn how to transport Chi energy through the Kidney Meridian system and the blood circulatory system to help the body to detoxify and purify itself.

Chi Principles 12 – 15

"Four Seasons Rhythms"

The heart, according to ancient Chi experts, is the ruler of the body and governor of the blood circulation. The blood goes through four phases which parallel the four seasons in Nature. The heart and blood vessels go through phases of birth of new cells (Spring), expansion (Summer), distribution of nutrients (Autumn) and contraction (Winter).

The rising, expansive, contracting and sinking rhythms of Tai-Chi and Chi Kung movements help us to experience inner harmony and apply the wisdom of Nature to improve the quality of our daily life.

The Benefits

Depending on the type of illness or health difficulty, different exercises may apply more to certain situations than others. Combinations of different exercises are appropriately given to meet the requirements. Generally, Tai-Chi and Chi Kung exercises have been found helpful for people with breathing difficulties, arthritic conditions, depression, mild nervous disorders, high blood pressure, impotence, headaches, and lower back problems. It balances the hormonal system, releases toxins and strengthens the immune system. It aids healing processes in the stomach, intestines, kidneys, liver and heart.

It is beneficial for people who want to improve their sense of equilibrium, achieve a better appetite, and find a more centred and confident approach to life.

Valuable research in China since 1958 has confirmed the benefits of Tai-Chi and Chi Kung practices. The Medical Academies of Shanghai and Tangshan documented remarkable successes in the use of Tai-Chi and Chi Kung to help patients with disorders of the stomach, intestines, respiratory and nervous system.

A recent report in March 1996 in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society indicates the positive findings of a three year research project showing that Tai-Chi Exercises have helped to reduce risks of falls for senior citizens.

Recently, in Great Britain, a two years research project at The Royal Hallamshire Hospital, concluded, "Tai Chi may be a useful alternative to formal aerobic exercise."

Regardless of weather conditions, Tai-Chi and Chi Kung exercises can be practised by people of all ages from 17 years old upwards. Many of the breathing and meditative postures can be done seated, lying down or standing still. The best time to practise can vary for each person. Generally, the early morning and late in the evening when it is fairly quiet is the most suitable period for beginners.

Even after more than 6,000 years, the study and practice of Chi energy exercises continues to help people with health problems. Truly, the ancient Chinese teachers were right, there is a timeless value to the teachings of Tai-Chi and Chi Kung.


1. Peter K. C. Chin, 15 Ways to find a Happier You, (Rainbow Tai-Chi Productions, 1996)
2. Prof C.M. Cheung, Cheung Tzu's Thirteen Treatises on Tai-Chi Chuan (North Atlantic Books, 1985)
3. Jou Tsung Hwa, The Tao of Tai-Chi Chuan (Tai-Chi Foundation, 1980)
4. Dr J. M. Yang, The Root of Chinese Chi Kung (Yang's Martial Arts Association, 1989)
5. Dr K. S. Channer MD FRCP, Royal Hallamshire Hospital Report on the effect of Tai-Chi on heart patients.
6. Qi magazine, Vol. 6 No. 1, Using Tai-Chi to prevent falls in Senior Citizens.
7. Stephen Palos, The Chinese Art of Healing (Bantam Books, 1972)


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About Peter Chin Kean Choy

Master Choy (full name Peter Chin Kean Choy) has been practising these ancient arts for more than 40 years and has taught more than 20,000 students. His books have reached more than 200,000 readers and practitioners. He studied Tai-Chi Chi Kung with Grandmaster Huang Sheng Shyang of Malaysia and Grandmaster Chen of China (who gave him the title of Master Choy). Master Choy also learned the application of Tai-Chi Chi Kung with his father, Chin Ket Leong, who was a Chinese Herbal Doctor and Martial Arts Master. He combined his Tai-Chi with other Taoist Exercises into the Rainbow Tai-Chi Chi Kung Practice and Philosophy. He is also indebted to his contemporaries: Jiddu Krishnarmurti, U.G Krishnarmurti, Eileen and Peter Caddy of Findhorn Foundation, Barry and Samahria Lyte Kaufman of The Option Institute (U.S.A),  Mantak Chia (Thailand). He studied Chi Healing and Swimming Dragon Chi Kung  at  The Chi Healing Arts Centre (U.S.A) directed by Dr. T K Shih and  Zhineng Chi Kung at the Zhineng Chi Kung Centre in China by Dr Pang Li. He is also a qualified instructor of Aichi. He is the  Founder/Director of The Rainbow Tai Chi Chi Healing Centre/School and is founder of the Thanking Healing Process, The Trilogue Therapy and Tao of Colour Science. He is  also a qualified Raw and Living Food Chef, Consultant and Instructor. Peter Chin Kean Choy may be contacted via


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