“Symbolizing power, strength, vigor, vitality, wisdom, resilience and growth, the dragon thus reflects positive values, and the values of independence, perseverance and dedication.”
The mythical Chinese Dragon is a symbol of the power of the emperor, of divinity, mysticism, blessedness and benevolence. It is the kind of power only gained outside of the realm of the physical world – like the sun kings of Europe and the deified royalty of the Maya. The emperor was more than human, but possessed of something that transcended this earthly plane.
The Dragon Qigong form targets our original Jing essence – centered in our kidneys. This is one of the keys to longevity. As we twist to our maximum range of motion through our spine, we wring out the kidneys and stimulate flow in the spine. This builds our capacity to retain this basic life force, given to us by our parents, of which most of us have a finite amount that we use up during our lifetime. The emotion associated with the kidney is fear; this is the place that is most impacted when we are afraid, and in this world of deep fears, as well as constant media bombardment that triggers those base survival instincts, our kidney Jing is in danger of being depleted.
I have taught this animal with great success to people with lower back pain and soreness. I worked with martial arts teachers who train in Muay Thai and Krav Maga, who told me this helped open up their lower back and eliminate back pain. One of the common ailments that athletes who train intensively complain about is lower back pain. This is a great solution.
If good kidney function makes an individual feel strong, agile, and energetic, the description of kidney qi deficiency, with lower backache, soft bones, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, and forgetfulness, means it is all just part of the aging process. When we age, or have a decrease in kidney essence, the hair thins and hearing is impaired. The term essence is sometimes used to mean semen. Since aging is the result of a progressive decline in reproductive hormones, it is evident that the Chinese Medicine view of the kidneys must include the reproductive system.
From the standing meditation posture, open by raising both arms forward to the chest level and then dropping them back down to the waist. From here, turn both hands as if “holding a ball”, with the right hand above the left at the level of the navel. Step out with the left foot into a horse stance and then sink the turn into the “bow stance” while the right palm pushes up towards the sky and the left hand moves out laterally to the left as if throwing a frisbee.
Try to turn completely around while keeping both feet planted firmly in a “bow stance.” This is the full extent of the motion.
From this position, slowly turn back to the front into horse stance, bringing the left foot back so that the feet are again at shoulder width and the arms are parallel to the ground with fingertips facing upwards.
In addition to the step, simultaneously circle the arms back to “hold the ball” except this time the right hand is on the bottom. Repeat this motion on the right side to complete one whole round.
For more detailed Dragon Qigong form instructions see the book Five Element Qigong Bundle
Anatomical and Physiological Benefits
Not only is the twist of the spine good for our kidneys, but the stance Gong Bu (Bow Stance) brings energy to the kidneys as the back leg pushes the force right up into the kidneys. This, combined with the deep twist, gives a good squeeze of the kidneys from the bottom up and a twist squeezing them at several angles. As you sink deep into the stance, you can feel it stimulating your lower back and kidneys. Do not slack, and make sure to sink deep into this stance to reap maximum benefit.
Effects on the Fascia
To engage the kidney meridian you need to firmly plant your back foot into the ground. If the foot is turned out too far you won’t get the proper tension needed on the kidney meridian. The twist in the Dragon wrings out the meridian as it travels up your centerline of the body. The arm positions aid in a further opening of the kidney meridian as well as the psoas. It is important to look at your hand or beyond that to engage the Spiral Line all the way up into your neck.
The lifting of the arm on the side of the body being stretched adds more stretch to the Spiral Line while the lower arm is going in the direction of the contracted part of the Spiral Line, thus acting to increase the contraction. By engaging the Dragon deep into the deep fascia, you will engage the Deep Front Line through the psoas.
Effects on the Meridians
The kidney and bladder meridians are engaged by having the foot at a 45-degree angle, turned inwards with the leg straightened. As you twist you can feel “lines” from your feet going up the legs and into the torso twisting. To distinguish this try turning the foot out to a 90-degree angle and twist. You will not feel the twist of the “lines” in the legs. I have my students do this often to show them how to more precisely feel the meridians.
Explore the rest of our Qigong blog to learn more about the ancient practice.