Baduanjin Qi Gong

The Baduanjin qigong (八段錦) is one of the most common forms of Chinese qigong, thought to be used as exercise from as early as 1100AD. Variously translated as Eight Pieces of Brocade, Eight-Section Brocade, Eight Silken Movements, Eight Golden Treasures or Eight Silk Weaving, the name of the form generally refers to how the eight individual movements of the form characterize and impart a silken quality (like that of a piece of brocade) to the body and its energy. The Baduanjin is primarily designated as a form of medical qigong, meant to improve health. It is known for its simplicity and effectiveness.

The Baduanjin as a whole is broken down into eight separate exercises, each focusing on a different physical area and qi meridian. Traditionally, there is a standing and seated set of eight postures. In the modern era, the standing version is by far the most widely practiced.

How it works

The principles of the Baduanjin are based on the belief that a healthy person’s meridians are open and clear of blockages, meaning the flow of Qi is smooth and uninhibited.   Each of the eight separate exercises focus on a different physical area and Qi meridian. Movements can be repeated between 6-8 times and the complete set of 8 takes about 15 minutes.The physical stretching movements stimulate the flow of Qi through the meridians, improving strength and flexibility of the entire body. It is practiced to improve health, and to calm and heal the mind, body and spirit. Practising Baduanjin allows for the correction of physical and yin yang energy imbalances, and the releasing of emotions and reducing stress.

Improving cognition

Preserving and enhancing mental function is something many people seek. The Baduanjin may be able to help. Scientists are studying the form for it’s impact on mental function and brain and nervous system health.

One review (Baduanjin for executive function in patients with mild cognitive impairment: A systematic review and meta-analysis) explains why practice holds many benefits. As a traditional health Qi Gong and mind-body exercise, the Baduanjin emphasizes gentle movements, musculoskeletal stretching and relaxation, regular breathing, and meditation. The study affirms that this can alleviate the symptoms of Mild Cognitive Impairment. The author also mentions that Baduanjin acts in the physiology of our Nervous System. Some studies have shown that Baduanjin positively impacts patients’ brain functions and psychological well-being. Others indicate that mind-body exercises, such as Tai Chi and Baduanjin, can improve cognitive function in patients with mild cognitive impairment. One reason for this is that Baduanjin stimulates the sympathetic nerves in the abdominal cavity and balances the excitability of the brain, which in turn has a cerebroprotective effect.

At Movement In Mind, Baduanjin refers to the Health Qi Gong form, 8 Treasures refers to the Classic Baduanjin which predates it. Both have the same intention and health benefits.