What is Qi?
Qi is often translated as "energy, life-force, vitality, breath of life". The Chinese character of Qi 氣 is composed of two parts: 气 which in this context means the air we breathe and 米 which literally means rice or grain, however in this context means food. The air we breathe and food we eat are the two most direct sources of energy we need to live.
There are many types of Qi and the word can be used in multiple contexts. For example, Traditional Chinese Medicine identifies over 200 different types of Qi that are present... within human body! The word for weather is 天气, which translates as "heaven or sky Qi". Qi has a central place in energy cultivation practices such as QiGong and NeiGong.
Traditionally those who sought after Qi or practiced any of the related arts were after one of the following:
a) increased power in martial arts and combat, b) ability to heal oneself and others c) using Qi for spiritual elevation.
Often those three came sequentially as a person evolved from martial arts to healing to spiritual cultivation.
What is QiGong?
QiGong is an umbrella name for a myriad of Chinese origin inner cultivation practices that use Qi as the pivot to influence the body, emotions, mind and spirit. The origins of these practices date back thousands of years to the Chinese shamans. Over the millennia's, the Daoists, Buddhists, Chinese Medicine & Martial Arts folk have all greatly added to and influenced the practices that are now known as "QiGong".
QiGong is becoming increasingly well known worldwide, mostly for the healing, relaxing and wellbeing aspects.
Many people practice QiGong for health purposes, some study QiGong for martial purposes, whilst others practice to lay the foundation for their spiritual growth. There are a myriad of different methods, styles and depth of practice out there.
From a traditional point of view, QiGong can bring ones health to optimal level as per ones constitutional makeup. This is done by optimising body-mind-breath, regulating Qi, harmonising ones nature and lifestyle adjustments. After one has achieved optimal health, further practices such as NeiGong or NeiDan can assist with building more Qi beyond what is normal. QiGong in itself is not a destination, rather it is an effective tool to help with various issues and goals.
What is Gong?
Gong 功 can be translated as work, effort, practice. This makes QiGong into "the practice of cultivating and working with the Qi". However, the word Gong has a deeper meaning. Gong is a quality, that comes with mastery. In this context one practices Qi based exercises until they have mastered the internal qualities. It is then that "Gong" arises in ones nature.
It is very valuable to contemplate and deeper understand what these words mean! One can practice QiGong for decades without achieving Gong. One can have a very beautiful looking QiGong practice with smoothly flowing moves without the Gong being there. Gong is achieved when the effect of a given practice has been integrated with body-Qi-mind.
This helps to understand that it is not exercises or routines we should seek for, but internal qualities that arise from consistent practice. These internal qualities are reflect in numerous ways such as a healthy and relaxed body, clear and compassionate mind and abundant energy. These qualities are the roots of ones spiritual journey.
Qi Foundation curriculum
The following components are covered in our Qi Foundations classes and workshops.
Not all exercises and principles can be covered in one time, the work is ongoing.
The curriculum is suitable for beginners & those wanting to further their existing practice base.
Body mobilisation, stretching & preparation
Learning how to release tension bound in deep tissues, nervous system and muscles via simple stretching exercises that are to be carried out over a period of time. These stretches are designed to open the body and create more space within, so we could be comfortable within our bodies. Stretching & conditioning are key foundations for the journey.
Breath & ability to unwind tension
Breath is intimately linked with our Qi. We will learn the very foundational breathing exercises that lead to deep and comfortable abdominal-diaphragmatic breathing patterns, which serve as the foundation for the future practices.
Breath is also used for unwinding conscious and subconscious tensions, to assist with becoming comfortable within.
As part of the Qi Foundations curriculum, we teach a simple introductory QiGong routine, known as the "8 Pieces of Brocade" or BaDuanJin. We have learnt a very traditional form of BaDuanJin, emphasising on co-ordination of movement, breath and mind. The purpose of this routine is to integrate the foundational principles of QiGong.
Life nourishing "YangSheng" practices
YangSheng 养身 can be translated as "life nourishing". These practices include
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