Iron Shirt Chi Kung and Health
The standing practices of Iron Shirt Chi Kung are exercises that coordinate many systems of the body. The respiratory system and fascia move together during each inhale and exhale. (If you aren’t familiar with iron shirt chi kung, you may do a quick search on it to see the postures. The most well know is called ‘Embracing the Tree.’) The subtle breaths of Iron Shirt practice stretch and expand the fascia and it retains it elasticity as it condense back with the structure. The more the fascia gains its strength, the more it holds the structure in its proper place.
The skeletal and muscular systems learn to stand upright and hold a particular geometry as we stand and breathe in the iron shirt postures. After standing for a long time, the muscles have to relax because muscular tension becomes unbearable and the whole body structure begins to shake. It is by extended standing that one learns to relax and allow the energy of the earth to enter the body through the feet and open joints.
The endocrine system is positively impacted by the breathing and standing of Iron Shirt Chi Kung. For instance, when the arms are holding a hugging position in Embrace the Tree, the thymus gland is activated as a gentle pressure squeezes it in the sternum. One also breathes into and out of the reproductive organs, causing the testicles and ovaries to expand and condense with each breath. (The testicles can be seen to visibly rise and fall. And many women have reported their breasts become more firm as they breath energy from the ovaries up to store in the breasts—rather than the energy flowing out during menstruation.)
Finally, the nervous system is positively affected as our mind relaxes. The fight or flight response turns into rest and recovery with our slower breaths. The adrenal glands relax. And you can even smile, if you want to… Learn more in The Alchemist’s Tao Te Ching: Transforming Your Lead Into Gold: