TQJ 3/2093, issue 93
August – October 2023

Body Awareness, or what René Descartes has to do with Taijiquan and Qigong
By Ralf Rousseau
Our relationship to our body is essentially determined by our socialisation and our cultural imprint. Ralf Rousseau describes the separation of body and mind/soul that has existed in European culture since classical antiquity, and which leads to the body being regarded as an object. In the Chinese worldview, the inner and outer worlds are seen in a highly complex mutual relationship instead of being separated. Sensing deep into the body and perceiving it from within is an ability that most people in our society need to relearn. One suitable exercise for doing this is the body scan of the Vipassana tradition.
In the second part of his article, Ralf Rousseau will address the psychological and neurophy- siological aspects of body awareness and embodiment and will relate these to the practice of Qigong and Taijiquan.

Inner Stabilisation of the Spine
By Andreas Holthusen
In Taijiquan and most of the Qigong traditions, one practice goal is a stable and upright posture that is also relaxed, flexible, centred and well-structured. The spine and its surrounding tissues are a crucial factor here. Firstly Andreas Holthusen explains the difference between the dynamic and autochthonous muscles; the latter are essential for stabilising the spine and play a key role in preventing back pain. Drawing on his experience as a physio- therapist he shows how these deeper muscle layers, which we cannot consciously control, can be activated by exercises for coordination and balance – and that the quality of movement in Taijiquan is also highly suited for this purpose.

Practicing the Microcosmic Orbit – connecting heaven and earth
By Franziska Ritter
The »Microcosmic Orbit«, also known as the »Lesser Heavenly Circulation«, is one of the best-known Qigong exercises, even though it is seen as an advanced practice of »inner alchemy«. In order to ensure that the flow of qi in the dumai and renmai is not simply imagined, it can be useful to stimulate this flow with specific movements and to make the spine more permeable. As a way of achieving this, Franziska Ritter uses a pelvic-floor exercise by Benita Cantieni as well as the Crane Beak exercise which brings movement into the spine vertebra by vertebra. She describes both exercises and also explains the »energy gates« on the Microcosmic Orbit which, through this practice, can gradually be opened.
Watch YouTube video: Crane Beak exercise by Franziska Ritter

»It calms me, it soothes me«
Taijiquan for people with post-traumatic stress disorder
By Almut Schmitz
For people with a post-traumatic stress disorder, life can be challenging in many respects. While some affected persons are able to overcome the experienced traumatisation relatively quickly, others develop a complex, chronic disorder condition that puts a heavy and longterm burden on the person themself and on their family members. In such situations, Taijiquan can help to bring the organism into better balance and facilitates self-regulation of typical symptoms such as overexcitation, flashbacks and sleep disturbances. The specific nature of the physical movements induces a sense of control and self-empowerment; the movement art can become a helpful resource.

Working on Body and Soul
The aspect of cultivation in classical Qigong
By Joachim Stuhlmacher
Although Qigong is often considered a system of practice for cultivating life energy, traditionally it serves equally as a method for cultivation of character. Joachim Stuhlmacher describes the essential criteria that provide orientation in this respect. In the Buddhist traditions the aim is to reduce the »five poisons of the heart«, while in the Daoist traditions the aim is to moderate the emotions and strengthen the virtues.