New start:
year of the White Metal Rat

25 January 2020 marks the start of the spring festival or Chinese New Year of the White Metal Rat. It’s the beginning of the 12 animals zodiac and so time to start something new. Have you tried moxa, taiji or qigong?
In this newsletter:
  • Power of Moxa 
  • Year of the Rat
  • Taiji: Chansigong Silk Reeling 
  • Hunyuan exercises 

The power of moxa

I use Moxa as an essential part of my Toyohari Japanese acupuncture treatments. Patients find it extremely relaxing and it can help to reduce pain, stress, hot flushes, improve blood count and immune function and balance the meridians. 

The term for ‘Acupuncture’ in Chinese is Zhenjiu. Zhen is ‘needle’ and Jiu is ‘moxibustion’. Moxibustion or moxa is the often forgotten, ‘poor relation’ to acupuncture. However, its history predates the use of needles and it has powerful therapeutic effects.

Moxa uses the refined product of the selectively picked leaves of the mugwort plant which are smouldered over key points on the skin in specific ways. This plant found in temperate zones of the northern hemisphere is generally classified as a weed, although it still has a reputation for its more esoteric properties in many traditional cultures. It is only in East Asia, however, that it has been used therapeutically by being burnt over the skin.

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Year of the Yang Metal Rat

The origins of the Chinese Zodiac go back a few thousand years. According to the myths, Buddha decided to call all the animals on earth. But only twelve came. 

In recompense, he assigned each of these animals a year on the cycle affirming that children born in that year would acquire the personality traits of the animal assigned to that year.

In order to decide their order in the Chinese Zodiac cycle, the animals held a very exciting race. The first one to cross the river would be granted the first year, the second to come in would be the second animal in the cycle, and so on. 

The strong, hardworking Ox was in the lead. Suddenly, the clever Rat, jumped on the Ox’s back, who did not even feel the little thing getting a free ride. At the last second before reaching shore, the Rat jumped on land, winning the race! The Ox came in second, the Tiger third, and so it went… the happy-go-lucky Pig took his time and came in last. Thus the Chinese Zodiac and its twelve signs were born.

25 January 2020 - 11 Feb 2021: Yang Metal Rat
The metal element is linked with the colour white and symbolises autumn. When associated with the Chinese zodiac sign of the Rat it signifies a period during which individuals who have invested in important projects in preceding years can expect to reap the benefits.

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Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang: Silk reeling Part 1


Silk reeling is the abc of Chen style taiji. I first learnt this with Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang in 2001. Together with Zhanzhuang or standing qigong (see newsletter March 2016, these movements are the fundamentals, helping to develop the internal subtle energy and ultimately the power of taiji. The changes of energy from yin to yang can be felt as energy spirals to these four ‘stations’ in the body: hand, waist, dantian (energy centre) and back. In this video Grandmaster Chen teaches the Part 1 of Chansigong.

Hunyuan Warm-up exercises
If you missed the 3 warm-up exercises in the last newsletter, then here's the video for a different kind of reeling exercise to circulate Qi. Regular practice can help to remove pain or stagnation in the arms or shoulders. 

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