Qigong refers to any special skill or training of the breath and energy of the body that requires time, effort and patience. Qigong is the simplest, but by no means the most superficial of the soft, or internal arts. Qigong is mastered above all by constant practice. Diligent practice everyday will keep you in good physical and mental shape and promote vitality.
The soft arts of Qigong and Tai Chi provide a systematic program of exercise which will invigorate your entire body, with minimal risk of strain or injury.
These forms of mostly gentle exercise will massage and invigorate internal organs, as well as muscles, tendons, and joints.
The joints of the body are prone to dysfunction and disease. Joints are areas where your Qi and blood can become congested, and external pathogens can enter the body often become lodged here. It is essential to exercise the joints of your body daily to keep them mobile, and allow your blood and energy to circulate freely around your entire body.
Our Qigong classes can help you to improve your;
- Joint mobilisation
- General health
Why is it important to exercise our body and mind?
Ancient Taoists understood the importance of nourishing life, called Yang Sheng. Yang Sheng techniques reduce the loss of essence (Jing), energy (Qi), and spirit (Shen). They include movement techniques (such as Kung Fu, Tai Chi, and Yoga), diet, breathing exercises, and meditation (stillness is vital in nourishing life but unfortunately this is definitely not a feature in Western society).
The Chinese have the following proverb that refers to how our body responds to ageing, "Man is born soft and weak, and dies stiff and hard." It is clear to see that the Chinese understand the importance of regular body work to keep healthy, and to maintain adequate function of the joints, limbs, organs, emotions, and mind.
In the chapter titled The Universal Truth, of the oldest medical text in China, the Neijing (or Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine), it says this about health maintenance through exercise and body work, Ni (1995, p.1) :
"In the past, people practised the Tao, the Way of Life. They understood the principle of balance, of Yin and Yang. Thus, they formulated practises such as Dao-in, an exercise combining stretching, massaging, and breathing to promote energy flow, and meditation to help maintain and harmonise themselves with the universe. They ate a balanced diet at regular times, arose and retired at regular hours, avoided over-stressing their bodies and minds, and refrained from overindulgence of all kinds. They maintained well being of body and mind; thus, it is not surprising that they lived over one hundred years."
This was written nearly 2,500 years ago. Here is what the same chapter goes on to say about the then, modern times. "These days, people have changed their way of life. They drink wine as though it were water, indulge excessively in destructive activities, drain their essence, and deplete their Qi (energy). They do not know the secret of conserving their energy and vitality. Seeking emotional excitement and momentary pleasures, people disregard the natural rhythm and order of the universe. They fail to regulate their lifestyle and diet, and sleep improperly. So it is not surprising that they look old at fifty and die soon after."
If this was happening so long ago, imagine how much further we have degenerated in our attempts to maintain our health in 2013!
The Taoist monks have a saying : "One hundred and twenty means dying young." With Yang Sheng practices we too may be able to live at least 100 years while maintaining a useful mind and body.
The joints of the body are prone to dysfunction and disease. The Chinese believe this is due to their proximity to the surface of the body and their mobility. Joints are areas where your Qi and blood can become congested, and external pathogens can enter the body often become lodged here. Good examples of this are arthritis and rheumatism. It is essential to exercise the joints of your body daily to keep them mobile, and allow your blood and energy to circulate freely around your entire body. In the Chen villages, the birthplace of Chen Style Tai Chi, they will do 40 repetitions of each exercise. It is recommended to work through your body in the following order.
Fingers - Wrists - Elbows - Shoulders - Neck - Spine - Hips - Knees - Ankles - Toes.
Downloadable joint health exercises coming to our Online Shop soon.
So what are the benefits of these internal arts? The following is from The Book of Soft Martial Arts by Howard Reid.
"The soft arts of Qigong, Tai Chi, Hsing I (Xing Yi Quan), and Pa Kua (Bagua Zhang), provide a systematic program of exercise which will invigorate your entire body, with minimal risk of strain or injury. These forms of exercise will massage and invigorate internal organs, as well as your muscles, tendons, and joints. More importantly, the soft arts lead you to a new level of self knowledge and awareness, and teach you how your body relates to your mind, and to your inner being, or soul. Training in these arts teaches the student to react naturally and calmly in stressful situations, and not to be confused by technique, fear, or uncertainty. A skilled student understands that the will commands, strength obeys, and the energy follows. Always remember, the more you give the soft arts, the more they repay you."
Qigong translates to energy work or breath work. Many forms of Qigong exist - religious, medical, scholarly, and martial. Traditionally, Qigong was taught before any Tai Chi forms were learned.
How does Qigong benefit us?
- Used to increase the students internal energy.
- Increases the strength of the waist and legs.
- Helps the student quiet the mind, focus the spirit, and raise their vitality.
- Enhances respiratory control and function, benefits the gastrointestinal system.
- Enables the student to begin to feel their Qi and to move it around their body
Qigong training has been used by the Chinese for over 5,000 years. It can be divided into five main categories.
I. Qigong for maintaining health.
II. Qigong for curing illness.
III. Qigong for prolonging life.
IV. Qigong for martial arts.
V. Qigong for enlightenment.
Within these categories there is lying, sitting, and standing methods of qigong, and within each of these there is stationary and moving forms of qigong. All can be used for Yang Sheng (nourishing life) purposes.
Gold Coast Bulletin Interview with Sifu Marc Webster on the benefits of Qigong practise. 01.12.10