When starting out with anything, it is always best to master the very basics before moving on to the more complicated movements.
As Bruce Lee famously said —-
So where do we start?
Qigong styles can be as simple as swaying one’s arms about or counting one’s breaths and as complicated as holding a difficult position (such as sitting with legs crossed in the so called ‘full lotus position’) for hours or imitating the movements of a wild animal. And there are lots of them. According to some statistics there are over 100,000 styles of chi kung (or the ‘ways to practice life energy’) in China today. Sounds like a lot when you hear it, but the truth is, there could be as many as 6 billion of them if everyone on this planet would be committed enough to develop their own unique style.
One of the main reasons why there is such a variety of techniques is undoubtedly due to its very long history. But there are many other reasons too, such as: different styles have been created for different purposes (Qigong can be used in almost every aspect of life, making it lot easier and more enjoyable); many and varied origins of the techniques (eg. styles coming from Buddhism, Taoism, Confucian, Kung Fu, Chinese medicine) and many others.
The following Qigong styles introduced here are among the most powerful and most widely practiced ones in recent years in China. Many of them were being kept secret for a very long time only to come out publicly available in theMy last couple of decades while the others were created in recent times
So where do we start?
Eight Strands of Brocade Qigong
Eight Strands of Brocade Qigong (Ba Duan Jin) is one of the oldest Qigong styles, dating back over 3,000 years. It is a dynamic set of eight special exercises, gentle but firm, done with natural breathing and concentration, that promotes the flow of chi and blood, stretches the muscles, strengthens the joints and bones, improves coordination, flexibility, circulation, and is beneficial to all the systems and organs – central nervous system, digestive system, respiratory system, urinary tract…
To the onlooker it may appear that the practitioner is just stretching his/her limbs, bending and twisting their body but in reality every observed physical action is an attempt to favour the flow of chi in particular meridian(s). Thus the whole set is designed to rebalance all meridians and benefit all organs. This style is unique due to its stress on simplicity, repetition, relaxation, rhythm and harmony.
My favourite Video – just beautifully simple –
Spontaneous Five Animals Play Qigong
Imagine Reiki, Shiatsu, Kahuna, Rolfing, Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and Spiritual Healing all rolled into one technique, tailor made to suit your individual needs. That is exactly what Spontaneous Five Animals Play Qigong (Wuqinxi) is. It can treat a wide range of diseases, promote longevity and induce psychic abilities.
All one needs to do is focus their mind on certain acupuncture points on the body for a few minutes and the rest comes without having to consciously remember any steps or movements – making it a pure energy (chi) exercise.
The energy moves the body spontaneously according to each individual’s health needs. That means you will move your sore back or neck in the most appropriate way for its recovery. You will find the right acupuncture points and apply Chinese massage on them without any prior knowledge of Chinese medicine, do spontaneous Reiki-like energy healing and imitate some of the (or all) 5 different animals (tiger, bear, deer, crane and monkey) to get rid of your ailments. The Chinese found, thousands of years ago, that imitating certain animals’ movements is very beneficial to certain ailments, all stemming from pure observation and realisation that some animals are stronger than others, some are more agile, some faster, some see better, some hear better, live longer,…
Other spontaneous reactions that may occur during practice are: hitting or slapping certain body areas, shaking, jumping, whistling, humming, laughing, crying, reciting mantras, doing Tai Chi or Kung Fu like movements and grounding (ie lying still on the ground for a period of time allowing the Earth to pull the negative chi energy out the practitioner’s body thus assisting the healing process). For more information regarding Spontaneous Five Anim als Play Qigong, please refer to Qigong Chinese Health magazine – issue 1, page 10-15 or click on the link: Five Animals Play.
Tai Chi Qigong (Shibashi)
Tai Chi is a martial art, Qigong is a practice of Qi (life force). Tai Chi Qigong (also known as Shibashi*) is a style of Qigong that has ‘borrowed’ the movements from Tai Chi thus it is beneficial to both Tai Chi as well as to Qigong practitioners. This dynamic form of Qigong is a set of 18 gentle, slow paced movements that is not only easy to practice but is even pleasing to the eyes. Invented in the late 1970’s by Lin Hou-Sheng, a well known Qigong master from Shanghai, this style is as popular in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia as it is in China. In recent years, slowly but surely, it has spread to other Asian countries as well as to the west.
Tai Chi Qigong is very effective in strengthening muscles and joints, releasing tension, reducing stress, energizing, uplifting, regulating blood pressure… It gives a great workout without the need to do anything fast and strenuous, can improve coordination of movements and is generally beneficial to mind, body and spirit. If done regularly over a period of time, it can bring many positive health results, even control body weight.
Try out these videos and get into practicing this daily, it incorporates your meditation, movement and exercise and you will start to feel your energy flowing through your body. This will also helps in every aspect of your life.