Qigong is fast becoming one of the most popular forms of exercise around the world.
People are discovering that this ancient healing method leaves them feeling relaxed, renewed and restored. Even after just a few minutes of Qigong practice.
The beginners guide to Qigong is an introduction to this ancient healing system.
The day I stumbled upon Qigong was a pivotal moment in my life. It heralded the start of my journey back to health. For many years I had been struggling with chronic ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel condition. Looking back I was in survival mode. Living from day to day, never quite knowing when the next bout would appear. Exhaustion, pain and depression accompanied me wherever I went.
So when I came across a beginners Tai Chi and Qigong class for the very first time, having heard about its benefits, I eagerly decided to have a go.
Well, there are moments in one’s life which we never forget, and this was one of those moments!
I was very fortunate in having my first lesson with an original student of the legendary Gerda Geddes who helped bring Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong to the UK. I immediately felt at home with the gentle flowing movements and by the end of the class I was a different person, inside and out. From that moment I was hooked!
Qigong practice changes our inner state and I wanted to experience more of this wonderful feeling.
Over the following months my body started to heal and I had more and more energy. Eventually the symptoms of colitis that I had lived with daily for years, disappeared completely.
To wake up feeling on top of the world, brimming with energy and joy is something I will never take for granted. It is a true blessing.
So what is Qigong and how can you get started?
Qigong is an ancient system of self healing through still postures or gentle, flowing & mindful movements. Its origins go back thousands of years into the mists of Chinese history and aims to bring the body, mind & breath back to balance helping the practitioner live a long and healthy life.
Qigong or Chi Kung is an ancient Chinese system of self cultivation whereby the practitioner learns how to develop the three treasures related to human life.
These being the essence (Jing), vital energy (Chi) & Spirit (Shen).
From this foundation we then explore the fundamental forces of the universe, (Heaven) the energies of nature (Earth) and how through a deeper connection and understanding we can live a more harmonious and balanced life.
It is when these fundamental powers are balanced that we may enjoy good health and vitality, resilience, inner strength, longevity & spiritual awareness. With the tantalizing possibility of realizing our full potential.
Through a long & turbulent history China has accumulated a vast body of knowledge and experience in the field of self cultivation.
For thousands of years the Chinese people have sought ways of cultivating the health of the body & mind, adapting to the environment, improving the constitution and thereby prolonging life.
This process of looking inward and focusing their efforts on self cultivation is at the heart of Chinese culture and medical science.
The origin of what we now call Qigong can be traced back to primitive society where people found that they could improve their health through imitating the movements of animals.
The desire to survive drove them to explore and develop more ways to treat disease and prolong life through various meditative & movement practices such as Dao Yin.
Dropping in to the Present moment
Whilst performing the gentle flowing movements of Qigong it is a moment when the body, mind and breath all come together. We discover the beauty of living in the Present moment. The here and now.
In today’s society our minds are constantly bombarded by information.We put ourselves under constant strain to get more things done. We don’t just put in 100% we try to put 110% effort into our work. This inevitably leaves many people feeling completely frazzled, emotionally drained and opens us up to increasing health problems.
The flowing movements of the Qigong form transform us from the inside on every level. After 10 minutes of Qigong (follow this video) exercise you will discover a new you! Your mind will be become expanded, your focus will become sharper, your body will become renewed and your spirit will be rested.
By taking a few valuable moments in the day to go through some Qigong movements we bring ourselves back to balance, find our inner compass that will help us navigate through the complexities of modern day living with effortless ease.
Qigong could be described as moving meditation in that one of the aims of the practice is to still the mind. When our mind is encouraged to rest on some aspect of the body we are actually drawing the mind back to the present moment.
Our bodies only exist in the here and now, and so when the mind and body align we enter the peace of the present moment. When we are present we are filled with a feeling of peace that relaxes both mind and body together.
The more present we become the more consciousness we bring to the body. The more we are able to listen to the many messages it is sending us every second. When we are able to listen to those signals then we can do something about them.
When tension and stress appear, instead of it being left to its own devices we can immediately release it out of our system. This means that it doesn’t cause further problems later on.
Breathing your way to health
Breathing is one of the most effective ways to tackle stress. Having conscious control over how we breath allows us to transform it, releasing tension in the body immediately. With greater understanding of how we breath we can deal with emotional challenges as they arise. We can process that emotional energy out of our system so that it doesn’t become a problem later.
Within Taoist energy healing arts there are also quite specialised forms of breathing which have certain beneficial effects. One of these is called ‘whole body breathing’ which encourages an expansion and release of one’s body. This provides a deep yet calming internal massage. It’s extremely beneficial for the internal organs and as a result boosts your general health and well being.
As you progress within your practice of Qigong, more advanced forms of breathing are introduced. You’ll discover how to access deeper levels of internal awareness and as a result increasing your vitality.
Internal awareness – body, mind, emotions
It is very easy to become swept up with the general busyness of our everyday lives. We often find ourselves preoccupied with thoughts of the past or worries of the future. Our mind can be scattered and as a result our energy can be scattered. This is not conducive to a healing state of being.
Our bodies and minds become conditioned to this heightened sense of alertness and we become numb to our internal state. It’s because of this that we forget our bodies until something goes wrong. It’s usually when we experience pain or when we get very tired that we actually pay attention to our body. Of course by that time stress has built up so much that it’s starting to interfere with our lives.
Right from a very early age we become conditioned from many different sources. This can include our parents, school teachers and those responsible for taking care of us. We respond and adapt to the experiences and circumstances in our lives at the time.
Responses we develop as youngsters may not be the most useful in adulthood. Especially if they were born out of trauma. Any unresolved emotional wounds will continue to play out in the present and interfere with every new experience. It is as though one looks through a filter based on one’s past experiences.
This is why the same experiences are repeated time and time again.
Qigong allows us to break the bonds of the past through deepening the connection we have with our body.
We develop a sensory awareness and discover an internal connection which will become the barometer of how we use the ‘Self.’ It will encourage you to become aware of stuck patterns within your body and mind and set you on the path to create new habits & as a result your life will unfold with increasing authenticity. You will discover your true self and what that means for you.
Aligning the body to health
Imagine a builder setting up the scaffolding in a rather haphazard way. Not taking care if the structure is upright, level and with a good solid foundation. Any pressure or slight wind could bring it down in a moment. Similarly with the body, if it is not correctly aligned & positioned with a solid base, strain will build throughout the system. Be that in the body, mind or the emotions. Inevitably poor health will result in some shape or form.
Usually it’s the joints that go or muscles easily pulled or strained, tiredness is commonplace, headaches are daily, millions suffer with backache, breathing becomes tricky even bowel movement affected. Our mental functioning is also hampered through poor posture as is ultimately our energy system
One very common postural mistake we can observe in many people is the forward head position. The head is actually quite heavy! If it’s not well positioned then the neck structure is put under enormous pressure to keep the head up.
This is why so many people later on in life suffer from neck pain and stiffness.
Poor posture can also interfere with the proper functioning of your internal organs.
A collapsed structure means less internal space for your organs to exist in. Less space for your lungs means breathing becomes shallow for example. One way or another everything inside of you will struggle more to cope.
When we are optimally aligned as nature intended, we become good conductors of the natural forces of the universe. Gravity being the most obvious. However there is also a less well understood natural force that rises up through the body from the ground.
This natural rising helps to lengthen the body and bring us into a upright position without unnecessary tension.
By aligning ourselves with these natural forces in our environment we harmonise with the natural laws of the universe. These laws of nature underpin all Taoist energy healing practices such as Qigong and lead to longevity and inner peace.
Centredness – finding inner stability
Encouraging your body into alignment is also an exploration into discovering your own ability to remain centred and grounded. No matter whether you are still or moving. Remember that not only do we have a physical centre but also a mental, emotional and energetic centre. One will affect the other.
When we’re physically unstable this will of course affect how we feel mentally/psychologically. Even if it’s on an unconscious level. Visa versa when we are feeling emotionally not together we can also feel physically out of sorts.
Training our body and mind to develop a sense of Centredness will have a huge impact on health and well-being.
Stillness and movement
When you watch a great musician or singer you’ll probably notice that they don’t just come on stage and immediately launch themselves into their performance. Generally they’ll pause and take a moment to prepare themselves.
They enter a moment of silence within themselves and out of this deep connection comes their music. The music is born out of that inner silence or emptiness. Of looking inwards.
Likewise in Qigong we prepare silently by looking inward and nurturing an inner connection with ourselves. We enter into silence and emptiness. The Great Void. We discover a sense of Nothingness.
Movement is born out of emptiness. It is when we start to let go, release and listen that we discover a primal force. A force that informs how we move our body.
In today’s highly pressured society we don’t give much value in taking the time to deeply connect with ourselves. So we become numb to our body. We spend so much time in our heads that we become desensitised to anything much below our neck! Consequently awareness of this subtle force that runs through us gets squashed out of site.
Our heads take over and take control. We think our minds know best. It imposes its Will over our own innate body intelligence.
When allowed through, this primal force, innate intelligence, Qi energy will naturally guide & inform your body movement. When this occurs natural balance is restored within you, you become your own healer.
In order to achieve this we must encourage the Mind to take a well earned holiday! No easy feat!
Health, Prevention & Longevity – Building inner strength and resilience
Since ancient times cultures have searched for ways to keep the body healthy and increase longevity. In China this quest, over thousands of years, led them to delve into what became known as Internal alchemy. They refined their understanding of how the body and mind work and developed methods that would improve health and wellness, increase immunity & inner strength and restore emotional balance.
Some systems took this even further and found ways to develop immense internal strength whilst keeping relaxed.
Essentially all the different “internal systems” had the goal of improving one’s health before anything else.
Many of these systems were based on the same principles as found in Chinese medicine. A unique understanding of Qi or subtle energy and how it moves within the body underpins this ancient Taoist healing wisdom. Many internal and external factors can disrupt the body’s energy flow causing imbalance and illness.
“Internal methods” such as Neigong, Daoyin and Qigong aim to address these imbalances and through a variety of techniques restore balance so that good health returns.
The Mind and Qi
There is a Qigong saying – “The mind leads the Qi, Qi leads the blood.”
When we first start training in qigong most people have very little connection with their body. So the first step is to get to know ones body, our default postural & movement habits and start to make the body more conscious. We begin to feel the tension that has always been there. Hidden out of sight, because we don’t pay attention to it.
This ‘not noticing’ becomes our normal way of being.
It’s no surprise that we become numb to many sensations in the body. Sensations that we should be listening to, to prevent things getting out of hand.
Through proper training we become more sensitive and aware of more subtle changes within the body. As you become more relaxed and centred you’ll allow an innate force to move you.
This force has always been there but just hidden by tension and lack of awareness and sensitivity. Gradually this force, Primal energy, or Qi energy will inform all your movements. Instead of your thinking mind being in charge this inner force will educate you and show you how to move.
At a high level of refined sensitivity one can potentially lead this subtle energy with one’s intent alone.
Benefits of qigong
When I first started Qigong I was in very poor health. I was struggling with an inflammatory bowel condition called ulcerative colitis. It affected me everyday for at least 20 years. By the time I started Qigong my only options left were surgery or a lifetime on medication.
Although it took some time, gradually the symptoms got less and less until eventually my health completely returned. It was a real miracle.
Millions of people around the world are now also discovering the amazing benefits of practising Qigong. This low impact form of exercise is very effective at relieving stress and encouraging emotional balance. It gently stimulates the circulatory system and improves blood pressure, increases the lung capacity through specific breathing exercises, gently stretches the whole body relieving muscle tension & keeps joints healthy and strong. It provides an internal massage to all the organs, tonifying the connective tissue that keeps these organs securely in place.
These are just a few of the ways Qigong can help transform your health and bring you back to balance.
Different types of qigong
There is a quite a choice when it comes to choosing a style of Qigong to learn. They range from methods which are seated to those which involve standing in certain postures and ones which are movement based. Something else to consider is what you want to get out of your training. There are qigong systems which focus on achieving better health, internal strength and those which have a more spiritual leaning.
Generally they all have a similar base but emphasise a different aspect depending on their individual aim within the system.
It’s important to understand that Qigong is designed to keep the Qi or internal energy circulating smoothly in our body.
The common thread connecting all Taoist qigong systems is that whilst moving the body, we’re reducing any unnecessary muscular effort. This powerful form of relaxation is called Fang Song Gong.
How do we integrate Qigong into everyday life?
To achieve this we need to have a regular Qigong practice. Just as one wouldn’t take blood pressure tablets once every now and again. The same applies to Qigong. To really gain the full benefits we need a regular daily practice. And that is where having an experienced coach or mentor is a real advantage.
Once you understand the principles of qigong , your coach can show how to bring them into your everyday life. Eventually when you start to embody the principles it’ll become a natural part of how you live. You’ll live a Qigong life, full of connection, vitality and joy in every moment.
Are you ready to shift from poor health to wellness?
From lethargy to a zest for life?
From a slump to having a bounce in your step everyday?
Then now is the time to invest in yourself. Since starting my Qigong journey many years ago I haven’t looked back. Qigong has completely transformed my life. My health has gone from strength to strength and for that I am eternally thankful
I certainly notice a difference on the odd occasion that I don’t manage to fit a session in the day. I wouldn’t be without it now. The more I train the more I discover about this truly amazing method of inner health cultivation.
So have a look around my site and catch up on the blogs. I love writing and sharing my experience but I also love hearing from you! Please do stay in touch.
Let me know about your journey and feel free to comment on the blog posts.
Would you like to take the first step towards better health and well being? Are you looking for a coach to support you on your Qigong healing journey. Then I’d love to hear from you.
If you would like to have a chat then click on this link to book a free call with me to find out how Qigong can help transform your health & well-being.
Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions and I will get back to you very soon.
I look forward to hearing from you
All the best