05. Palms Supporting Heaven
Practice Method and Details
The following is from our book on Wudang Qigong, originally published in 1999. Photos of Professor Liu here are from 2006.
Set 5 Supporting Heaven Exercise
Supporting Heaven raise the cauldron from both ends of the spine,
from within what seems a trance, the thoughts focus.
Profound ancestors sat steadily at the Golden Top Palace,
emptiness, nothing inside strengthens the golden pill.
The movement method is exactly the same as for Extreme Emptiness Exercise, Preparation Postures. (see Illustrations 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 1-4)
2) Yin Presses Down, Yang Pushes Up
The previous movement pauses slightly, after regulating the breath by breathing out and in two times, both legs extend and straighten, naturally standing erect. At the same time, both arms revolve to the outside, both hands follow this, turning inward and raising upward, the heels of the palms stop just below both breasts. The fingertips of both hands face front, the palms face up. At the same time as this, the dan tian sinks inward, breathe in. The tongue presses against the upper palate, the teeth are slightly closed, the eyes look toward the front. (Illustrations 5-1 and 5-2)
The previous movement does not stop. The body’s center of gravity lowers, both legs bend at the knees squatting down and changing into a horse stance. At the same time, both arms revolve inward, both elbows close as if carrying something, the hands turn toward the front of the body in an arc shape and press down, stopping in front of the abdomen. The palms face down, the fingertips face forward. At the same time, the dan tian sticks outward, breathe out. The tongue is close to the lower palate, the teeth are lightly closed. The eyes look slightly downward, the intention is on the dan tian, the breath circulates through both the Du Mai and the Ren Mai. (Illustration 5-3)
3) Support Heaven, Strengthen the Dan
The previous movement pauses slightly, both legs extend straight; the body naturally stands erect. Both arms revolve outward and turn upward, both hands follow this turning upward and describing an arc, the heels of the palms rest against the front of the chest above the Shen Feng acupuncture point. The palms face upward, the fingertips point forward and upward at an angle. (Illustration 5-4)
Just after the previous movement, both legs bend slightly squatting down and changing into a high horse stance. Both elbows connect and close as if holding something, the fingertips wave to the outside and rise, both palms draw close, the palms face each other. In the first part and the second part, the breathing in for both movements is achieved with one breath in. The dan tian sinks inward, gradually breathe in. The tongue presses against the upper palate, the teeth are slightly closed. The eyes look at the Lao Gong acupuncture point, the intention is on the Xuan Guan opening. (Illustration 5-5)
The previous movement does not stop, both legs extend and straighten, the body rises straight. Both arms revolve inward and turn upward; both hands push up and change into yang palms, the palms face up, the fingertips face each other supporting heaven, stopping above the top of the head. At the same time as this, the dan tian sticks outward, breathe out. The tongue is close to the lower palate, the teeth are lightly closed. The body slightly inclines back, the eyes from the centers of both eyes look upward into the distance, the intention is on the forehead’s Shen Ting acupuncture point. (Illustration 5-6)
4) Heavenly Dragon Waves its Tail
The previous movement pauses slightly, both arms revolve outward; both hands lower with a smooth motion. The fingertips face up, the palms Lao Gong acupuncture points face each other. Both hands 30 centimeters apart, stopping above the left front side of the forehead. At the same time, the waist serves as an axle driving the swaying movement of the whole body to the left, the body’s center of gravity slightly lowers into a left six right four stance. (Illustration 5-7)
The previous movement does not stop, use the waist as an axle to driving the swaying movement of the whole body to the right, the body’s center of gravity continues to lower into a right six right four stance.
Just after the previous movement, the body turns toward the left, the body’s center of gravity lowers over the space between both legs, squatting down and changing into a horse stance. At the same time, both hands from the upper right turn downward, moving smoothly toward the left, stopping at both sides of the chest Hua Gai acupuncture points, the fingertips face forward and up, the little fingers rest against the sides. At the same time as this, the dan tian sinks inward, slowly breathe in, using one breath in to accomplish the above three movements. The tongue presses against the upper palate, the teeth are slightly closed, the eyes follow the turning of the body, the intention is on the little finger Shao Ze acupuncture point, the breath travels through the hand’s Da Yang Xiaochang channel. (Illustration 5-8)
5) Push Down, Return to the Beginning
The movement methods are entirely the same as for Extreme Emptiness Exercise, Blend the Elements with one breath (see Illustration 1-8).
Main Points and Functions
In practicing Supporting Heaven Exercise, first work to connect the spirit and the breath components flowing together, the shape of the posture winding and following, the movement is naturally relaxed, the whole body together with the intention sways. When pressing upward to support heaven, the body should remain very straight, using the waist as an axle, both arms are bent, both palms extend toward the front and up to the fullest extent. Both feet cannot separate from the ground, the toes grip the ground. The centers of the feet Yong Quan acupuncture points raise upward, the palms Lao Gong acupuncture points push up, the center at the crown of the head Bai Hui acupuncture point lifts upward, these three centers together use strength to raise up, causing inner breath to rise and come out in the movement, the body leans slightly back, the abdomen expands and the elbows push from below. The movements of Supporting Heaven must be coordinated with the breathing out, when one limb moves one hundred limbs wave together, when one is still, there is none that is not still. The requirement is to achieve: calm yet not drifting, neither too much nor too little.
Heavenly Dragon waves its tail left, shakes right, and squats down these three movements must be accomplished with one breath in. Breathe in then the body moves, do not breathe in then the body is still. The waist and the back are the body’s masters, with regard to the health of the body and the strength of the physique both have visible and important effects. The spine, because the Du Mai travels along this path, so then the back must be aligned and relaxed, thus helping the inner breath circulate. Along with this and at this time it is important to pay attention to the waist and abdomen as they cannot stick out to the front, in this way the movement can be more integrated, clearing away the defect of heavy head and light feet.
Regular practice of the Supporting Heaven Exercise, also helps with the breath flowing through the three gates in the back. The back three gates refer to three places rising along the Du Mai route that the breath and blood cannot easily go through the gate opening location. The back three gates are generally referred to as: the vertebra at the lower end of the spine Weilu gate, the paravertebrals Lulu gate (Hua Tuo’s Jia Ji ), and the back of the brain the Yu Zhen gate. Energy and breath rise through the back three gates along the Du Mai to the crown of the head Bai Hui acupuncture point; then, moving down through the Xuan Guan opening along the Ren Mai, as a result of the tongue pressing up, lowering, travel through the Shan Zhong, to directly enter the dan tian. This skill method brings into play the human body’s life potential, using spirit and energy to govern the flesh, using ideas to command the nervous system, if there is a defect remove the defect, if there are no defects, then cultivate the body, to progressively extend the years and increase longevity is the objective.
Each time, practice 6 times or 9 times to make one set. Practicing again and again in succession is fine. The size of the movements, large or small, high or low is not restricted, but depends on the age or youth, the extent of physical strength, and the strength or weakness in the physique of the one who is practicing.
 鼎 ding – ancient cooking vessel; tripod
 丹 dan (dan tian) Cinnabar Field
09/16/2022 Terri Morgan