Below is a link to the “8 Brocades” Qigong practice demonstrated by Mimi Kuo-Deemer. When beginning to learn Tai Chi, this is a wonderful exercise sequence to do on the days between lessons. It will help you to learn to focus your Qi and develop strength in your legs and arms.
Sequence of the 8 Brocades:
1 – Two Hands Support the Heavens: Push the hands, with fingers loosely entwined, over the head and stretch toward the sky.
2 – Separating Heaven and Earth: Press one hand with palm upwards to the sky and the other hand with palm downwards towards the earth. In a smooth motion, switch the position of the hands so that the one that was pressing upwards is now low and pushing downwards while the downward facing hand is now over the head pressing upwards.
3 – Drawing the Bow to Shoot the Golden Eagle: While in a horse stance (feet wide apart, knees bent, tailbone tucked under, back vertical and straight) imitate the action of drawing a bow to either side. Turn the head to look in the direction the bow is pointing.
4 – Wise Owl Gazes and Looks Backwards: Stand in resting position, arms relaxed and slightly in front with palms facing the body. In a smooth motion, sink the tailbone, open the palms outwards, and turn the head (from the neck only) to one side. Return to resting position with eyes facing front and palms turned back towards the body. Repeat to the other side.
5 – Swing the Head and Tail: Squat in a low horse stance, place the hands on thighs with the elbows facing out and twist from the waist to look backwards on each side.
6 – Two Hands Climb the Legs: Stretch arms upwards to the sky and then bend forwards and hold the calves/ankles/toes. Tuck the tailbone under and roll the spine upwards until body is once again vertical and at rest.
7 – Punching with an Fierce Gaze: Stand in horse stance (feet wide apart, back straight and vertical, tailbone tucked under) and punch with loosely clenched fist to the front. Alternate arms.
8 – Shake the Back 7 Times: Roll feet forward and push upward from the toes to stand briefly on the toes. Relax feet/legs and drop onto heels, creating an impact vibration that spreads up the legs and spine.