The 8 pieces of brocade is one of the most popular and widely practiced form of qigong for health. Its practice promotes relaxation, helps stretch the major muscles of the body and with regular practice can keep you healthy and happy. Another benefit of practice is an improved immune system. This is due to the effect of the exercises on the lymphatic system. Even though I’ve been practicing the 8 Pieces of Brocade for years, I didn’t realize this correlation until after taking a course in manual lymphatic drainage.

The lymphatic system, which is part of the circulatory system, is a major part of your immune system and helps clean the body of toxins and impurities. It is also a drainage system, removes waste from cells and supplies nourishment to cells. It does this by moving lymph (interstitial fluid that carries toxins and white blood cells/lymphocytes) to the lymph nodes, where it is “cleaned” and recirculated throughout the body. When it’s not working properly or is overloaded, you end up getting sick, feel sluggish, or may suffer from edema. If you’ve ever had a cold and felt swollen around your neck; it’s due to your lymphatic system being strained causing the lymph nodes to swell.

The Lymphatic system does not work on it’s own like the other systems of the body. It only works through muscular movement and deep breathing. This means that you play a vital role in how your lymphatic system works. So walking, stretching, basic exercise and deep breathing, help pump the lymphatic system and keep you healthy. Now there are many ways to do this, but the 8 Pieces of Brocade is especially effective because of the following reasons.

In proper execution of the Eight Pieces of Brocade you will perform the following:

1. Slow, even and controlled movements. – The lymphatic system lies near the surface of the skin and does not respond well to rough pressure or fast movements, but rather slow and gentle pressure. This is because it mimics the natural flow of the lymph system.

2. These movements are performed in the muscles of the neck, armpits, clavicle area and inguinal region of the groin. These areas have large clusters of lymph nodes and have a major effect the entire system.

3. Deep diaphragmatic breathing. Deep breathing helps move lymph throughout the body, resulting in better circulation.

So the next time you practice, pay attention to how you move, your breath, your rhythm and especially the area that your working. And realize you are improving your overall health and that there is a science behind all these ancient methods. They may not have known the systems as well, but they understood the effects of what they did. Our knowledge today should be used to enhance our understanding of the older methods and know why they worked. It will also help preserve them, as with better understanding comes a better practice.

Thank you for reading. Feel free to leave a comment below.

~ Edward Tomaine