In our last three blog articles, we discovered the Dragon Qigong and how it is good for relieving lower back pain and also fear from the kidneys, the Tiger Qigong, which helps to open tight shoulders, chest, strengthen the legs and muscles around the knees and relieve grief from the lungs, and the Leopard Qigong, which is a powerful Qigong form to improve stability, balance front and back, left and right, and release anger and frustration, which is often held in the liver. In this blog, we continue on with the 5 Element Qigong Set for the Snake Qigong form that works on the spleen releasing worry and anxiety from the spleen, regulating good digestion of the food Qi and digestion of the blood flow.
The Snake Qigong works on the spleen – an organ that in Chinese Medicine is related to the digestion of food Qi – getting nutrition from food and good digestion. The spleen has a tendency to get too damp, and when the spleen is damp mucus can form, digestion goes off, and we can experience anxiety or worry. To reduce dampness, TCM herbal prescriptions often times act as a diuretic. Through compression and “squeezing” out of the spleen we can increase the diuretic function. The Spleen: “The spleen governs blood. It makes blood and regulates the circulation and direction of blood flow. If there is malfunction, the symptom is deficient-type bleeding. The Spleen governs muscle. This governance goes all the way to the mouth and flourishes in the lips. If the Spleen is in good condition, the person is muscular and lips are red. If the Spleen is in poor condition, there is decreased muscle tone, and lips are withered and colorless.”
Rumination, or worrying something over and over, is associated with the spleen. Stagnant Qi is also related to the spleen. Symptoms like phlegm arise from issues with the spleen. The spleen creates stagnation easily.
The Snake Qigong form opens with the snake slithering up the body, looking back, creeping through the grass, and returning to the center of the body. The ‘creeping through the grass’ movement compresses the organs, squeezing them out like a sponge. The organs are further expanded as the torso returns to the center of the body, and thus absorb fresh energy.
From the standing meditation posture, open again in the same way as for the other forms. After the opening, draw the left hand back and the right hand forward as if outlining two circles.
While stepping the right foot out into a “bow stance”, bring the left hand over to the right side as the right hand slides laterally- palm up – up the left arm, moving over and beyond the left palm.
From here, turn the right hand over so that it is now palm down and move the left hand down as the body sinks into a “snake creeps through grass” posture.
While remaining low, shift the weight to the left side and lead with the left hand as the entire body leans over to the left side. From here, move the right hand behind the head, and over to the left side over the left hand, holding a qi ball. This is the full extent of the posture.
From this posture, simply drop the right hand so that the body is now in position to repeat the same movement on the other side.
Completing the motion once on both sides makes one round; three rounds complete a full set. After a full set, the closing movements are made by standing back up and moving the right leg back to a shoulder width position while the arms gather and close in the same manner as the Dragon and Leopard movements. End with the hands over the Dan Tian and enjoy the Zhan Zhuang for at least three minutes.
Anatomical and Physiological Benefits
During the contraction phase as you go into the “creeping through the grass” phase of the movement, you will pay attention to squeezing out the spleen on the left side. This also squeezes out the small intestines. As you go into the phase of “Snake catches its prey” you are expanding the spleen area. As you go to the right side, you are squeezing out the large intestines. In addition, the added spiraling motion at the end of the movement will really open the spine.
Effects on the Fascia
The fascia that the Snake Qigong works on also activates the Lateral Lines.
By pushing the foot really firmly into the ground as you extend the body, you will tap into the Deep Front Line. Pushing the feet into the ground in Qigong is often called “rooting” or “grounding”. This Qigong feels like it goes deep into the body because it does go deep into the tissues when done correctly.
There is an interplay between the Deep Front Line and the Lateral Line here as they create stability between the outside and the inside of the leg. You can really feel this again with the extension of the back leg and pushing the foot firmly into the ground. Feel the extension all the way into the hands. The twist at the end of the movement also activates the Spiral Line.
Additionally, as you pull the back arm back, it opens the Superficial Front Arm Line.
Effects on the Meridians
For more detailed Snake Qigong form instructions see the book Five Element Qigong Bundle
You can also see Snake Qigong in action in the 5 Element Qigong Online Course.