It is not essential to focus on esoteric philosophy or to have any particular belief system for Jiangan to bestow its health benefits. Neither is there any evidence that the methods arose from these esoteric aspects. All indications show that the art evolved form practical considerations rather than philosophy and ideas. However, all type of exercise can be understood in the context of the culture from which they arose, and it is clear that Jiangan can be shown to work within the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Yet it can also be understood in terms of more ancient, fascinating and totally unique elements. These may turn out to be correspondences rather than direct influence on the art, but for those who are interested in Chinese philosophy and other ancient principles this page presents some of these aspects which I discuss in my book Jiangan – the Chinese Health Wand.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Yin and Yang
Jiangan cam be understood as a dynamic expression of the Yin Yang principle in many ways. In every exercise, one part of the body is still (Yin) while other parts of the body move (Yang). This is not as fanciful as it may at first appear. The result of this Yin-Yang interaction is a gentle resistance explained here. Individual exercises also correspond to triagrams of the I China. The exercise featured in the image below is shown by the triagram; yang is sandwiched between two yin lines, which represents the posture perfectly (two Yins holding a Yang in the centre). As the hands grasp the ends of the Wand, one hand can be Yin and the other Yang. This is similar to the principle of the ancient Egyptian healing rods, double-prongued divining sticks and some Qigong practices.
Microcosmic Orbit meditation
The movements of Jiangan basically simplify the process of `microcosmic orbit meditation’. First we generate Qi in the Dan Tian to open energy centers along the `microcosmic orbit’ route where Qi passes. The movements coordinated with the breathing can be focused on the `Eight Extraordinary Channels’. Qi sinks down the Ren Mai (Conception) Channel to the Hui Yin point in the Perineum beneath the spine (Muladhara or root chakra in Yoga) then rises up the Du Mai (Governing) Channel in the spine to the Bai Hui point at the crown of the head (Crown chakra in yoga), then down again to the chest and belly to the genitals and Hui Yin. When this cycle is repeated with correct breathing and gentle stretching movements, it bestows multiple health benefits.
Each Graduated Stage of the exercises relates to one of the five Chinese elements in order of creation; earth creates metal creates water creates wood creates fire. Before earth there is Yin and after fire comes Yang.
Ancient Egyptian & Yoga Links
Pyramid Energy and Chakra/Meridian Points
Jiangan is the only health and exercise system focusing on `Pyramid Energy’. There are pyramids in China but it is not clear whether these were the influence or whether the art had its origins in ancient Egypt. We create symbolic pyramid structure is formed by the way the Wand is held in a wide grip in relation to the body (see photo below). Energy or `Qi’ is said to be circulated and re-circulated through this pyramid – along the arms, hands and Wand – instead of being dissipated through the hands. As part of Jiangan’s microcosmic orbit meditation, we may focus on the vertex (tip) of the symbolic pyramid as it makes its way t the Baihui/Huiyin points (root & crown chakras in Yoga).
A hexagram star (two triangles, one pointed up and the other down, locked in harmonious embrace) is created in many postures of Jiangan. The `pyramid’ can also be interpreted as a triangle and most postures embody two triangles; one in `Yin and one in `Yang position, making a hexagram star.
In Chinese symbolism, the two triangles are represented in the famous Yin Yang symbol as the two fish intertwine with one another. But these triangles can also be understood in terms of Indian tradition. The two triangles are called `Om’ and the `Hrim’ in Sanskrit, and symbolize man’s position between earth and sky. The downward triangle symbolizes Shakti, the sacred embodiment of femininity, and the upward triangle symbolizes Shiva, or Agni Tattva, representing the focused aspects of masculinity.
The mystical union of the two triangles represents Creation, occurring through the divine union of male and female. In the diagram below of `Sunrise and Sunset’ (the most comprehensive posture in the whole routine) the Yin position focuses the point of the symbolic triangle at the base of the spine (the root chakra in Yoga and the Huiyin point in Chinese philosophy); while the Yang position focuses the point of the symbolic triangle at the crown of the head (the crown chakra in Yoga and the Bauhui point in Chinese philosophy).
In advanced practice, awareness and meditation of this hexagram as we breath deeply and move gracefully between the two positions, Yin and Yang, will be of great esoteric significance to many people as well as increasing the aesthetic and mindful nature of the exercise. Creating such a universally profound symbol (circulating and re-circulating `Qi’ or `Prana’ around the body continually) undoubtedly has great influence on the incredible health benefits Jiangan bestows.
Egyptian Healing Rods
The way the Wand is held may also be traced back to the Egyptian Healing Rods where one hand represented the moon or Yin and the other hand represented the sun or Yang energy. As Jiangan also constructs a symbolic pyramid during the exercises it can be interpreted as a profound esoteric practice.
Parallels with Sacred Geometry
The vertex of the symbolic pyramid shape is focused on the body’s two polarities and this whole process conforms to ancient geometry; namely the Piscean Vessel, with the person’s Yang point leading to heaven and Yin point drawing up from earth. The exercises are performed by awareness of the pyramid and thus we have the triadic unity between heaven, human and earth.
Golden Ratio Principle
It was discovered that the most beneficial breathing – the `best practice’ of breathing was in accordance with the `Golden Ratio’ principle. Fibonacci numbers we find that deep diaphragmatic breathing is naturally in the timing of the Golden Ratio Principle. If we inhale for three seconds we exhale longer – about about five seconds or even up to eight seconds if we are especially meditative. This is the body finding its natural rhythm which is aligned to the Golden Ratio.
It was also discovered that the most effective length of Wand should corresponded to the Golden Ratio of the individual’ s arms length.